Stephanie March loves a good road trip, especially when there’s a farm and some flat pie at the end of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good summer road trip, especially when there’s a farm and some flat pie at the end of it. The trend for farms to host pizza nights is the main reason an evening out to A to Z Produce and Bakery in Stockholm or Stone Barn in Nelson is so very worth the drive. But it’s not always easy to load up the family truckster for a Tuesday or Wednesday night haul (which is often when farms are able to host), and I’ve found myself wishing there was something less than half-a-gas-tank’s drive away. Hardly would I dream that I’d find one in my own backyard, but there it is.
Two Pony Gardens is a dahlia and heirloom tomato farm in Long Lake, a mere 30 minutes west from downtown Minneapolis and six minutes from my house. Tucked back in 40 acres of rolling green, the farm uses organic growing methods and is an interesting mix of rustic and modern, which comes as no surprise when you learn that there’s a familial connection to The Foundry Home Goods, a popular North Loop shop.
Two Pony’s pizza nights happen on scheduled Saturdays when the farm fires up the outdoor brick oven and welcomes guests to pack it in/pack it out picnic-style: bring your plates and eating ware, beverages and cups of choice, and something to sit on, though there are a few tables if you can score them. Just two kinds of pizza are on the menu: One will always be a margherita-style pie, while the other is a seasonal creation made with ingredients from the local land such as ramps or foraged mushrooms. This summer I had one with a bright melon salsa and pancetta; the crust was simply fantastic, light and chewy with just the right amount of heft. Both the marg and the specialty pie were gobbled up in a flash by my kids. You do have to RSVP for this pizza farm, but glory be, you can pre-pay for the $18 pizzas on the website if you want to use plastic; otherwise, bring cash.
Our Saturday was packed with young families, all stylishly turned out for their night in the country, with many bottles of wine flowing freely from group to group. Maybe because it’s a smaller production, and we were all sharing the same space, but it had an intimate and convivial feeling that I think we farm dinner enthusiasts often find lacking in the big to-dos. There are two dates in August (the 24th features an heirloom tomato tasting as well) and a few dates into the fall, which make for a spectacular drive, even if for just six-minutes.
1700 Deer Hill Rd., Long Lake, 763-473-0783, twoponygardens.com