With the strains of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" blaring on my car's stereo, I slowly wind my way up the long driveway to the Gibbet Hill Grill restaurant located in Groton, MA. It is a gorgeous spring afternoon here in rural New England, one in an unbroken string of six mild and cloudless days. After all the rain that fell in the past month or so, this is a nice respite and it's great to be rewarded with such extraordinarily good weather for a change. Parking my car at the usual employee parking area, I stepped out and was immediately greeted by a strong but cool breeze blowing against my face and a nice warm embrace by the sun's rays--an ecstatic combination that has to be experienced to enjoy (words simply can't describe the feeling). Breathing in the clean country air, I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to be working at such a beautiful setting that's just 6 minutes away from where I live. Talk about a dream commute.
The shots above are taken just outside the restaurant and you can see (in a distance) a small herd of Black Angus cattle roaming in the pastures. Gibbet Hill was founded in the 1600's. A farmhouse that was built in 1690 still stands on the property. The word gibbet (pronounced jib-bet) actually means a gallows-type structure where dead bodies of executed criminals are hung for public display. Whether this hill was so named because of what it was used for is unclear. In the early 1900's, a prominent physician bought the property and turned it into a private sanitarium. Since then, it had been used as a private hospital for tuberculosis patients and a hunting lodge for the Groton Hunt Club. In 1947, Gibbet Hill was turned into a farm to breed Black Angus cattle. 40 years later, the herd of cattle had grown to more than 600 and was producing "superior" Black Angus meat for public consumption. A decade later, the farm was in decline and was put up for sale and plans were afoot to build residential housing on the property. In 2000, a local entrepreneur bought the farm to stop the imminent development and in 2004, Gibbet Hill Grill, a steakhouse, opened its doors and has since built up a reputation for great food and service. Besides dining on some of the best steaks in town, customers are able to walk around the property and enjoy the beautiful countryside.
Last year (2009), the restaurant embraced the gaining popularity of the farm-to-table philosophy by developing a 2-acre lot on the property to supply the restaurant with fresh, locally-grown produce. If you think about it, this move is quite a no-brainer since the property is surrounded by farmland and what better way to build a niche market for itself than to embrace that concept wholeheartedly. This latest farming development brings the Gibbet Hill Farm full circle as corn was first planted on the property back in the 1980's. After going through some lean times, the farm is finally back. With a talented farm manager on staff, the farm is ready for a great 2010 planting season and has set up a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture to provide local residents with the opportunity to directly purchase fresh, seasonal produce grown on the farm.
Seriously, I can't think of a better way for the restaurant to promote buying from your local farmer and also having the freshest ingredients on hand for the chef to work with. Expect some amazing dishes from the restaurant come June when the farm is in full swing.