Noel Patterson works as a sommelier for Quench Fine Wines. A true foodie and urban homesteader, he raises bees, is involved in many forms of fermentation, animal husbandry, and gardening. He is famous for his pig roast dinners.
You have a lot of projects going on here. What is your motivation for maintaining all these projects?
The unifying theme with all my projects is to take as much responsibility for my food and drink as I can. I have the garden providing my vegetables. The chickens give me meat and eggs. The bees provide sweetener—which is, if you think about it, something that is difficult otherwise to get from your own backyard since sugarcane takes up a lot of room.
How do you decide what to grow in the garden?
Most of the time I have tried to grow varieties I cannot find in the market or that I can grow significantly better than what is found in the grocery store (like heirloom tomatoes). But lately my aim is to grow more varieties that have cultural and historical significance to our region. Especially Tohono O’odham crops: the black-eyed peas, white teparies, most interesting lately is the June corn I got from Native Seeds/SEARCH. It is a dent corn the Tohono O’odham would plant with the monsoon. A few blue kernels showed up in some of the ears and I thought it would be fun to plant the blue ones and see what came up. There were only about 15 at the time. After a few years of selection I finally have solid blue ears—Chris Schmidt from Native Seeds/SEARCH tells me that blue corn is rare for the low desert.
What do you have growing for the cool season?
For the winter garden most of what I am growing is fermentable. I have daikon radish for salt pickles and kimchi, various varieties of cabbage for sauerkraut. Also kohlrabi makes an amazing sauerkraut—I think kohlrabi is a very underappreciated vegetable. Also I have beets, carrots, chinese cabbage, tatsoi, nasturtium, peas, parsley, chervil, chamomile, kale, collards, chard, broccoli, turnips, and rutabagas.
What is on the horizon for you?
An aquaponic guanabana operation, with caviar producing paddlefish.