There is something special about being at the farm. I knew it the second we pulled up the drive. I met up with Engine 2 Coach Char Nolan in Philadelphia and we made the scenic drive up to Claverack, New York together a couple of years ago. The Adirondacks were beautiful. The Hudson River sparkled under the sun as we drive across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge from Catskill, New York. It was going to be a gorgeous weekend, perfect weather for an outdoor event. We drove past the red barn, the one that’s in Forks Over Knives, and parked in front of the Esselstyn family homestead. The farm has been in the family for over 300 years. As soon as we step out of the car, a chorus of laughter streams from the backyard. The Esselstyn grandkids are here for the weekend as well. Welcomed by Ann Esselstyn, on the back porch, we share details from our journey and meet some of the children. She is assembling simple flower arrangements in canning jars for the dining tables (and in the porta-potties!).
The big white tent is up in the backyard. Rip is testing the sound system. Several team members are sorting through the Plant-Stock tees and other merchandise to get things ready for the crowd tomorrow. Nearly 500 people will fill the tent over the course of the weekend. Listening to Dr. Esselstyn, learning about The Pleasure Trap with Doug Lisle, laughing along with Ann and Jane Esselstyn as they demonstrate simple salads and amazing dressings. The folks who come to Plant-Stock come for different reasons. Some come for inspiration, some to share their transformation, others bring a friend or loved one, hoping that they too, will become plant-strong. Many come each year, as a reminder of how far they have come with their own health. People from as far away as Australia make the trek to the Esselstyn farm each summer to reinforce their plant-strong journey.
Dinner is being served tonight for the family, esteemed guests and the Engine 2 team. We are joined by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his wife, Karen, The College Greens, Howard Jacobson and several other special guests. We were treated to a sampling of new plant-strong recipes as we caught up over dinner, met new friends and talked about the weekend ahead.
After dinner, as dusk arrived, we retreated to our room to grab a jacket. Then, the sound system in the tent was fired up. Kids, and kids at heart, bounced out of the Esselstyn house and made their way to the big white tent. Soon, they were joined by the rest of the family, Dr. Esselstyn included, for what has become a tradition. DANCE PARTY!! The Engine 2 staff, guests and Esselstyn family danced under the tent in celebration of another life changing weekend about to begin!
Before dawn, the house is alive with activity! The first guests will be arriving shortly. It’s a cool, dewy morning on the farm. Most of us in rain boots and hoodies, hands wrapped around a cup of herbal tea made in Ann’s kitchen. We make our way to the registration table with flashlights as headlights start streaming down the drive to the parking area. Dr. Esselstyn is in a ATV, shuttling some of the guests to registration. Smiling faces lineup for a weekend of information and fun that will last a lifetime.
We hope to see you at Plant-Stock this year!