Brunch on the Farm

One thing I love about Zürich is the omnipresence of both the Swiss and Zürich canton flags.  Hanging from buildings and homes in the old town and all across the city, along the lake and river, perched proudly on cars and trams, patches sewn into locals’ clothing, bags and other accessories.  So you can just imagine my delight during the Swiss holidays when these flags show up in even more guises.   They blow in the wind on top of churches, and food products are cooked or baked into the shape of the Swiss cross or in the colors of red and white.  Yesterday, August 1st, was the national holiday here, commemorating the Helvetic Confederation’s 718th birthday.

430 farms across the country opened to the public for the holiday with a “Brunch on the Farm.” You reserve a spot, pay around CHF 20 and can enjoy the setting, food, music and any other festivities. We chose a farm with traditional production methods (and animals for my 4 year old nephew to pet!) in the canton of St. Gallen, towards the Austrian border.  It was a beautiful drive from Zürich (about an hour), with a truly representative landscape of Switzerland – rolling green hills, so smooth and clean, cows grazing upon them, their bells swaying as they moved about, fields of sunflowers and the entire landscape dotted with the red and white of the Swiss flag.  My favorites were the signs off the sides of the road, letting us know we could stop at any time to pick up fresh berries, plums, sunflowers or eggs.  Using a system that perhaps might not work as well in the United States – you take what you want and leave money for it.  Stands unattended, prices marked, functioning on the honor code.  What do you think of that?!

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We arrived at the home of Beatrix and Stefan Stark in Schuepis, Waldkirch.  On the grounds of beautiful apple orchards and cherry trees, a tent was put up for the occasion.  Long tables were piled high with platters of cheese (Appenzeller), dried meats, colorful hard boiled eggs, fresh breads, butter, homemade jams and local honey.  Another buffet was set up with Rösti, scrambled eggs and Birchermüsli as well.

August 1 Brunch, SwitzerlandAugust 1 Brunch, SwitzerlandAugust 1 Brunch, SwitzerlandAugust 1 Brunch, Switzerland

The farm brunch would not have been complete without paying a visit to the animals – rabbits, calves, geese, pigs, sheep and (smiling) goats.  We said a big thank you to the cows in particular for their delicious milk, which we drank warm, unadorned, and appreciated in the unctuous butter on which we (very) generously spread our bread.

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On our way out, we admired the vegetable garden as well, with zucchini flowers, beets, tomatoes, lettuce and carrots.  And then we hit the road, direction: Appenzell.  A town known for its eponymous cheese, and also for being truly as Swiss as it gets.  You’ll see that here, next on the blog…

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And don’t forget to mark your calendars for next year; it will be the 18th annual Brunch on the Farm !

August 1 Brunch, Switzerland



14 Responses to “Brunch on the Farm”

  1. Amy @ The Q Family says:

    That’s so cool. Wish there is something like that here in the States. My kids would love that. Good question about the honor system. I don’t know how well that will work here.

  2. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    This sounds so wonderful. I love the idea of exploring a side of Switzerland that you wouldn’t probably see everyday. It’s so great that everyone seems to demonstrate strong Swiss national pride not only during the year, but especially on your national day. The honour system set up is actually something I remember having here in Brisbane (outskirts) when I was a young girl. I grew up in an area that was mostly farming – beautiful fertile soil but alas is now littered with houses! On the side of the road would be little fruit and vegetable stands. No one was there. You took what you liked, left the amount, and went on your merry way. I don’t think they could do that here anymore….sad to say….. In the meantime, looking forward to your cheesy post! 😉

  3. Scribetrotter says:

    Somehow this national spirit doesn’t seep much into Geneva, although I’m certain there are plenty of brunches in the Suisse Romande. So… next year, bookmarked. I’ll be off to brunch. And now I have to admit something with a dollop of embarrassment: I’ve been living either in Switzerland or in the region (or at least calling this my home base) for a quarter of a century – and I’ve managed to miss the Fete Nationale. Now it’s time to make up for it…

  4. Kerrin says:

    Amy, perhaps this IS something like that in the States. Just not where I’m from – New York!! If anyone reading knows, please share… thanks !

    Julia, that’s what we do all the time – with a free weekend, and/or with friends or family in town – visit a new town or region. It’s so easy to just hop on a train or rent a car and go. There’s so much of this country I want to see. And it’s just so beautiful in every which direction, with delicious food finds to be had as well! Thanks for sharing about growing up with those “honorable” stands – that’s too bad they aren’t around anymore. Ah, the good ole days !

    Scribetrotter, what ?! You missed la fete nationale ?! Oh la la! 😉 Ok, next year it is then – 719th birthday brunch! And yes, I am sure there are lots of farms in Suisse Romande, you can do a search on their site by canton or key word and find one. But tell us, how will you make up for missing it this year ?! 😉

  5. katy says:

    What a great holiday! I will mark my calendar! I love the honor system for produce and other homegrown goods. I bet it would work just fine in many areas of the U.S. One of our neighbors in Seattle sells her tulips on the honor system right on our street. Never asked her how it works out, but she does it every year so I’m guessing it works just fine.

  6. Lani says:

    The photos of the Swiss countryside are just breathtaking. What an adventure every year. I think Switzerland does the right thing and give the country the day off to celebrate and enjoy the land! I just love the zucchini flowers, the little pig is so cute. It really must have been such fun to be a part of the day. I would have loved to be your camera. You see things in a such a beautiful way!!! Congrads to your photo eye… wrote your blog in such a descriptive way that I could actually smell the fresh air, see the green grass and experience the rolling hills of Switzerland…..thank you.

  7. Romy says:

    Um… these are great farm and countryside pics Kerrin, but… what about the food?! Was it so bad it didn’t even warrant photos or so good that you forgot all about taking pics?

  8. jkiel says:

    Sounds like a great time! Now I can’t wait to hear about the …. cheeeez…

  9. Kerrin says:

    Katy, glad to hear the honor system is still intact. Just depends on the place and the people I suppose.

    Lani, thanks so much for the comment, glad you shared in the experience. And yes, great to have the day off for the national holiday her – only, it fell on a Saturday this year ! 😉

    Romy, I guess we were having a bit too much fun feeding the animals ! haha! In truth, we got there a tad late. “Brunch” being more on the noon end of things for us – not at 9am when the buffet tables were full and at their most photogenic, and when most of the Swiss were there ! Sorry… Next year, I’m going to the farm you went to this year; I loved that Swiss flag bread too, and did I see meringues and berries . .. mmm! Our farm had no dessert ! Or at least none left when we got there!! 🙁

  10. Emma says:

    I’m from Minnesota; once you get out into the country, or at least a ways out from a city, it seems pretty common to leave unattended stands that function on the honor system. Most frequently I see signs for eggs, sometimes milk and sometimes vegetables. In the fall quite a few family farms sell pumpkins and gourds this way as well. And where there are edibles for sale alongside the road, there are usually good quality bags of manure/compost as well – for a good price!

  11. Sean says:

    Now this I have done and it is fantastic… I was even honest, which in my first year here I have to confess I had to think about the temptation to cheat the system…. although I didnt the devil on my shoulder was more present than it is now….

  12. Kerrin says:

    Emma, thanks for the great comment and sharing with us a taste of Minnesota. I am so glad to hear that the honor system is nothing out of the ordinary. Wish it were like that everywhere. But alas…! And ooh, totally got excited about pumpkins and gourds, love those! I’m picturing stands just overflowing with all those different shapes and colors, so fun!

    Sean, “even” honest !? haha! Temptations are everywhere ! Don’t listen to that little devil on your shoulder ! But I know… he’s there ! 😉

  13. Olympus Tours says:

    Actually, it’s wonderful what shows in your blog. While in Cancun, we made another kind of paradise. Their desserts are delicious. Your pictures are very beautiful.

  14. Andrea says:

    That is one of my favorite drives as well…as I have spent some time in that area. I love Bodensee and the beautiful Kanton St. Gallen. Glad you did too Kerrin!

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