More than 50 New Orleans–area restaurants create dishes from the baby greens, radishes, herbs, fingerling potatoes, and up to 150 varieties of other vegetables grown on Covey Rise Farms’ 35 acres in Husser, Louisiana. But if you had asked the farm’s owner, Sandy Sharp, about becoming a farmer before 2009, he would have thought you were joking. Sharp was a lawyer and a land developer, and a good bit of his 400-acre property was devoted not to growing vegetables but to a sportsmen’s paradise, a preserve for fly fishing; hunting quail, duck, and pheasant; and as a corporate retreat at the Covey Rise Lodge.
But when the economy slumped, Sharp and Jimbo Geisler, who owned the hunting operation on Sharp’s land, came up with the idea of adding a farm to the land and dipping into the agritourism business. In May 2010, the first vegetables were picked from 10 planted acres, which now number 50. Working closely with chefs like Michael Gulotta and John Besh has helped to make Covey Rise a success; Sharp grows what the chefs want and sells directly to them. He also launched a community-supported agriculture program and sells at the New Orleans Hollygrove Market. Ducks, eggs, and, Sharp says, “the prettiest hogs around,” are raised at sister company Chappapeela Farms.
Now, hay rides and field-to-table dinners with visiting chefs are regular events at Covey Rise, and at the Lodge, chef Marc Lyons doesn’t have to look beyond the farm’s borders to come up with fresh meat, game, and vegetables to cook up his globally inspired dishes.