Girl Farm Kitchen: Sara Barbour Returns

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Laguna alum Sara Barbour with AP English teacher Dr. Donelan

Laguna alum Sara Barbour with AP English teacher Dr. Donelan

On a chilly winter morning, ice cream is not the typical food of choice. However, most students didn’t pass up on the opportunity to try homemade lime sorbet from returning Laguna alumna Sara Barbour, class of ’07.

With runny noses and frozen hands, they huddled in front of a large buffet table and loaded bowls with the sorbet, fresh quinoa, and nuts that Barbour had brought with her on her visit.

Barbour’s visit to Dr. Charles Donelan’s AP English Language class was not just a momentary break from the hectic school schedule. It was an opportunity to connect the students’ curriculum to their lives.

Earlier in September, Donelan’s class wrote personal essays reflecting on their favorite recipes, which were then posted on an AP English Language food blog originally based on Barbour’s, which has received attention from both the Los Angeles and New york Times.

“I’d written about books and kindles just as a creative writing thing for one of my classes at Columbia, and I sent it to my parents’ friend who I’d had that same conversation with. He’s actually a writer for the Los Angeles Times and without telling me he sent it to the opinion desk. They emailed me saying ‘we want to publish [your article].’ That’s how it started,” Barbour said.

By a seemingly random series of events, Barbour found her blog propelled into success overnight.

“I had just launched my blog when [the article] came out and so it was crazy. I had them put [the web address] in [the article] and then 900 people looked at it that day. It really was amazing. All these things just fell into place pretty magically,” Barbour said.

“One thing that I really like that is very farm- ingredient-centric was a goat cheese vegetable lasagna. We had thin slices of zucchini, thin slices of egg plant, goat cheese that I made with our goat milk on the farm, and tomatoes… It’s really amazing to be able to do something like that.”

After graduating from Columbia Universityand interning at O Magazine, she launched her food web blog “girl farm kitchen.” At this time, Barbour had also begun an apprenticeship at Love Apple Farms in Santa Cruz, California.

“I’ve been reading food blogs religiously for a long time, and I began to think about starting my own when I started cooking and writing a lot. It all came together at the farm,”said Barbour.

From there, she continued posting, and posting, and posting about her new, rural life, cooking with seasonal ingredients.

“you have to be really creative when you’re working with set ingredients because you have to prepare something different and interesting every time,” Barbour said.

Students in Donelan’s AP English Language modeled their essays after Barbour’s posts, and were met with a feast of local, fresh ingredients Thursday Jan. 13.

Their essays covered various food categories, ranging from beignets to lentil rice.

“I’m always looking for ways to connect current students with distinguished alums and to discover the ways that people who go off to top schools end up using their educations.

I thought Sara’s story of leaving publishing for farming was compelling, and I loved the tone and style of her blog. The clarity, the reverence, and the generosity of her character really shine through in everything she writes,” Dr. Donelan said.

Now, Barbour has ended her apprenticeship and is looking to move to San Francisco, where she will continue to post on her blog site. Though the girl is off the farm, she will carry everything she learned in her back pocket to a new kitchen.