Baltimore Sun

Be careful what you ask for

Ever since I wrote that Gertrude's chef-owner John Shields was pining for a farmette where he could grow more produce for the restaurant, something funny has been happening.

People have been offering him free farmland.

First, a friend who hadn't realized the chef was an aspiring farmer called to say she had 10 acres up in Monkton she wasn't using.


Then a complete stranger just rode up to the restaurant on his Harley and asked to speak with Shields. The chef thought he was going to get hit up for a charity donation. Turns out, the man was doing the donating.

"I've got a half acre. It's 10 minutes from here," Shields recalled the man saying.  "He said, 'Maybe you could give me a couple vegetables. I'll give you the water and everything.'"


Shields is already hoping to put in a fall vegetable garden on the half-acre plot. The 10 acres would require more planning and hands. "I'd have to get interns from all over the place," he said.

But he already has a name for the place: Gertie's One Goat Farm and Produce Center.

And he'll eventually have the expertise. He was already planning to send two employees who've been tending a small garden at Gertrude's -- assistant manager Jon Carroll and pastry chef Doug Wetzel -- to California for a three-day workshop on biodynamic farming.

John Shields, left, deals directly with farmers; soon he could be one, like David Smith of Springfield Farms, right. Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam