A few weeks ago Beth Kirby of Local Milk and I hosted Gathering from Scratch, a 2-day sourcing, photography, and styling workshop + retreat in the Shenandoah Valley of West Virginia. We spent our days at Oldeststone Farm, the oldest stone house in the area, built in 1734. We learned how to embrace the farmhouse's beauty and charm along with its pre-colonial faults. We worked together, created together, learned & cooked together, ate together, discovered together. It was a simply joyous time.
Most of my favorite moments from Gathering from Scratch involve the table we gathered around for our meals, our workshops, our late night chats. The dining room table at Oldeststone Farm was a perfectly imperfect weathered antique farm table, complete with drips of wax, nicks and scratches, and water stains. All marks of a well loved table, from years and years of meals and conversations and candles burning late into the evening.
It comfortably invited 12 of us for each of our meals, allowing plenty of room for elbows, coffee cups, freshly picked flowers, drippy candles, and food. Lots of food. It's fun to imagine the type of people and gatherings this table has welcomed over the years. People who come as strangers and leave as friends. Like us.
Tables like this are my favorite; they don't need much fussing to receive their guests. Nothing overdone, nothing contrived, finding a balance between what to do and what to leave undone. Making the most of the simple things, layered textures, the mealtime necessities, and a little touch of nature. For me, laying the table for our meals was a highlight of the retreat. It's about telling a story, spending time crafting something beautiful, sharing & giving something of myself, and enriching the lives of those I'm sharing it with. I wanted our guests to remember their time spent around the table, because of the meals shared, the relationships formed and the lessons learned, and also because of their experience and what they were surrounded with. What a joy it was to create these tables with Beth; I cannot wait to work with her again - we're already scheming plans for next year!
Stay tuned for more about Gathering from Scratch; this is just part two (part one is all about the kick-off farm-to-table dinner with 30+ guests) of many more (I'll be sharing about our workshops, all our wonderful partners, and the friendships formed)! Photos in this post are all by my wonderful friends Lauren & Rachel at Sweet Root Village.