Cedar Rock Garden’s Best Kale Recipe


cedar and rock


The rocks emerge around and within the stands of cedar trees, their piney breath fragrant on a hot day in May. The pale spring grasses of Walker Creek’s low tide stretch like a bleached wood beyond the forest-green limbs of the cedars. Among all this Elise Jillson and Tucker Smith are growing flowers, a list of eighty-two varieties from alliums to zinnias, annuals and perennials, and a healthy crop of vegetables.  Nettles are flying off the farm right now, destined for ravioli centers at Short & Main, and other local restaurants.  This is Cedar Rock Gardens in W. Gloucester.


CRF greenhouse


Elise, Tucker, Barn

Jillson’s flower-growing inspiration was born from her work with a local landscaper.

“Can we just farm flowers?” she began to ask, and planted a small flower garden of her owm.  With a local florist, Jillson studied making arrangements.  An earlier trip to Guatemala had made Jillson cognizant of local agricultural economies, and suddenly she saw one right here on Cape Ann in locally grown delphinium and sunflowers.


Tucker Smith


Tucker Smith’s family owns this rocky, cedar-generous acreage. Smith had graduated from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at U Mass. After work in construction and masonry, after apprenticing on farms around the world, Smith landed back in Essex in 2010. For two years he partnered with Noah Kellerman of Alprilla Farm, but Cedar Rock Farm called.

Working at Alprilla, Smith knew his family’s property could be transformed to agriculture from the exotic animal farm it had been when Tucker’s father was alive, but Smith knew he needed to start soon.

“I knew if I didn’t start over here (meaning home) when I was young I never would.”

Clearing a New England field of boulders, barn-building with Kickstarter funds, wrangling family over an enormous oak in the middle of a potentially verdant field (for years planted with strawberries), these are missions for twenty-somethings.  Jillson is 26 and Smith 27.


Family Tree


Jillson’s and Smith’s first flower and young vegetable crops will be available in the Ipswich and Cape Ann farmers’ markets, Wednesday 3:30 – 6:30 and Thursday 3:00 – 6:30 respectively. Their just-cut-yesterday flowers and vegetables, raised using organic practices (although not certified organic) will also be featured in local restaurants.  Mostly, the Cedar Rock people are hoping that weddings and events all over the North Shore this year will feature glorious bouquets of flowers raised on Walker Creek breezes.  Plan your nosegays now.


garlic patch

(Tucker Smith and Noah Kellerman are still good friends, and collaborate on certain projects, but mostly they enjoy meeting in canoes in the middle of Essex Bay, far from each of their fields.)

To get in touch with Cedar Rock Gardens, or to place a flower order:

Elise Jillson:  978-471-9979

Ford Tucker Smith:  978-879-9592


299 Concord St., Gloucester, MA  01930

Jillson promises there will be many bags of curly and lacinato kale for sale at the Cape Ann Farmers’ Market this Thursday. Here’s her current, favorite kale recipe;  I will have a bag of this in my refrigerator at all times, starting tomorrow.

Here is a link on “Well-Being Secrets” on the nutritive benefits of kale:  http://www.well-beingsecrets.com/health-benefits-of-kale/.

I start with two bunches of kale (either type but I love the curly kale), chopped up with the stems removed in a 1 gallon ziplock bag. Squeeze a whole lemon into the bag with the kale, mince a few pieces of garlic and throw it in the bag. Then add about 1/8 cup of olive oil – add salt to your liking. Option 1: zip the bag up tight and shake it till everything is coated. Option 2: Stick your hand in there and stir everything around until it is coated. Put it in the fridge and enjoy all week! Each day it is in the fridge it will get more tender if you give it a shake or stir.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply