Fable: From Farm to Table
By Jeff Simms (June/July 2018, Edition 26)
Photos: Courtesy of Tom Deacon; (Garlic) Courtesy of John Deacon
Thirty-five-year-old Tom Deacon may very well be the definition of the 21st-century farmer. You can’t trace back a long line of agriculture in his genes, nor did he grow up with a penchant for tilling soil that came second nature. Instead, the Westchester County resident balances a highly demanding film-editing gig in Manhattan with Fable: From Farm to Table, where he’s a self-taught—by Google, in fact—farmer who in four short years has created a successful community-supported agriculture (CSA) program and provides healthy, fresh produce for nearly a dozen of the county’s most popular restaurants.
Fable’s own tale began in 2014, when Tom and his wife decided they needed to eat better. That was it. No dramatic, life-changing event; just a sense that Mother Nature could produce food significantly more nourishing than the processed, lifeless stuff he was eating.
“The news is what turned me on,” he recalls. “I was reading article after article about toxic chemicals, and that really scared me.”
So he began growing organic produce at home with the Internet as his advisor and common sense directing the way.
Deacon says, “I thought, What’s the produce that we eat all the time? Our tomatoes haven’t been good? OK, let’s look at varieties of tomatoes that taste really good.”
As he quickly got comfortable with the new hobby, he began to reach out to local restaurants, thinking they might be interested in serving the same high-quality food on their menus. By the time Deacon hit “Send” on his fifth email pitching the idea, the first restaurant owner had already responded.
That was in early 2015. Among the establishments now serving Fable’s farm-fresh vegetables are RiverMarket Bar and Kitchen, TRUCK, Brothers Fish and Chips and Tavern at GrayBarns.
Later in 2015, Deacon began renting the former Sundial Farm, an 18-acre parcel on Route 134 with more than 200 years of farming history rooted in its soils. A CSA was launched last year and now boasts nearly 100 members, as well.
Easily accessible from New York City and via the Taconic Parkway for locales farther upstate, the popular Fable farm stand opened on June 1, and on June 10, the annual Farm Fest officially kicked off Fable’s summer season.
For Deacon, when he’s asked to pause and reflect on what’s grown from a hobby to an authentic second career, he notes the physical and mental changes have been extraordinary. While editing may keep him confined to a desk all day, time spent in the field is therapeutic. And the stress of making (or not making) deadlines, a workplace hazard in nearly every office, becomes much easier to tolerate when you cede control to Mother Nature and recognize that you’re a small cog in a much bigger machine.
However, he says, one more goal remains, and that’s to spread the word about how much fun farming really is.
“I want to make organic farming hip,” Deacon explains. “It should be the norm. Not only can we grow food that’s delicious to eat; it’s medicine that will make you healthier. These are cool and interesting things to do.”
For more information, visit www.fablefoods.com. █