“Farmhouse Rules” Brings Local HV To National TV
By Jamie Larson
Nancy Fuller has been a part of the Hudson Valley food community for, essentially, her entire life. From growing up on her family’s farm in Columbia County to running the multi-million-dollar Ginsberg’s Foods alongside her husband David Ginsberg, Fuller has also become one of the most effective advocates for the region’s hard-working farmers and the fresh food movement.
Now, with the launch of her new show on the Food Network, Farmhouse Rules, her message and the Valley’s farms will be showcased in a way they never have before. Although Food Network seems to be carving out her niche as the “warm, loving mother of six and grandmother to 13” who offers delicious, simple meals from the heart, Fuller views the show as an exciting opportunity for the Food Network’s vast audience to see what Hudson Valley farmers have to offer. While those of us who live here and in surrounding areas are already familiar with the concept, the show, says Nancy, will help people appreciate the connection between the food we make and the land it comes from.
During the program, airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m., Fuller collects ingredients straight from the source and then cooks classic comfort dishes that highlight the quality of their parts.
“I have a responsibility to the Hudson Valley, the people we live with, and the local farmers,” Fuller tells RI. “I’m absolutely blessed to have this opportunity.”
An opportunity that Fuller fell into almost by accident. A producer filming a segment at a local market loved the casual way she was explaining local produce to a friend. And so Fuller went from candidly explaining how to tell the freshness of a head of lettuce by weighing it in her hand, to having her own show.
“It’s a little bit surreal,” she admits. “I just think I have a story to tell.”
That story, Fuller says, is encapsulated in the three meanings of Farmhouse Rules. The first meaning, she says, is that rules used to be the term used by her grandmother for recipes. The second is, of course, that farms and farmhouses “rule.” And the third “rule,” perhaps most important to the family-oriented Fuller, is passing along the rules and traditions of proper country family living to future generations.
“It’s important that you and your children eat healthy,” Fuller says, “and that you sit down at the table with a napkin on your lap and turn off the electronics. If you sit down at the table with each other, you’re relating and conversing and showing love.”
She believes this attitude fosters respect for one another and translates into respect for the food being served. Fuller’s family is featured prominently in the show. She takes her grandchildren to the field to gather potatoes, then brings them right into the kitchen to see how the fruits of their labor become the meal.
“To be a farmer is a passion. They need the exposure,” Fuller says. “I want to give credit where credit is due. I want to include anyone who’s out there working so hard in farming.”
Having grown up on a dairy farm, she’s passionate about farming that’s both sustainable for the land, as well as for farmers and their families.
“I want to promote that, and show that farmers are so important,” she said. “In our [second] episode we went to a sheep farm and then went back to the kitchen to make lamb stew. I’m not just telling people where the food comes from, I’m showing them the farms.”
It’s her fervor for this idea that has driven her to work with farming support organizations in the region. She praised the work of the Hudson-based Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation and is a major supporter of its Hudson Valley Bounty organization. Fuller has been involved as either an organizer or advocate for countless local events including the yearly Taste of Chatham and the Hudson Valley Chili Cook-Off.
Though she takes all these local food issues very seriously, Fuller is also known for her recognizable laugh and the lighthearted attitude she brings to her work. She hopes that also will be transmitted to the viewers of Farmhouse Rules on Sunday mornings.
“It’s about making everyone smile,” Fuller says. “That’s one thing I hope people take away from the show.”
(All photos courtesy of Food Network.)