Chestnut Pines offers ancient grains for modern-day health
May 02, 2019 01:39PM
● By Linnea Lundgren
Natural, fragrance-free beeswax candles on sale at Chestnut Pine’s Botanical Shop. (Linnea Lundgren/City Journals)
By Linnea Lundgren | [email protected]
If he were here today, Joseph Neilson, Draper’s first school teacher, would be proud of what’s happened to his 1902 home and farmstead on Fort Street.
“I believe he would have wanted this house to be used for education,” said Jessica Smith, who along with her mother, Amy, have lovingly and painstakingly transformed Neilson’s home into Chestnut Pines, a cafe, bakery, botanical shop and educational center focused on showing how sprouted ancient grains, naturally fermented sourdough and garden herbs can sustain good health — and taste delicious, too.
For both mother and daughter, incorporating ancient grains and sourdough into their diet is a labor of love and a way of life. Health problems nearly devastated both of their lives — Jessica was forced to quit school after her kidneys shut down due to Lyme disease and Amy had suffered from painful skin rashes since childhood. In an effort to change their health, they spent years educating themselves in nutritional therapy and different healing practices. What helped their bodies heal, the Smiths said, was a diet rich in natural foods as well as the power of prayer.
Now they want to use their knowledge and their baking skills to help others.
“God created the earth and brought forth food that we need to nourish and strengthen our bodies,” said Amy. But, she understands that nourishing foods like spelt, millet and other ancient grains are not only foreign to most Americans, but can be difficult or too time consuming to properly prepare and incorporate into one’s diet.
That’s where Chestnut Pines comes in.
“We like to say that we’ll either teach it to you or make it for you,” Jessica said.
At the heart of Chestnut Pines is the cafe featuring breakfast items like sourdough waffles and sprouted grain pancakes — familiar items made with ancient grains that illustrate how they can appeal to modern-day tastes. And, if people want to learn about fermentation or cooking with ancient grains, they offer classes.
“We can change our diet with healthy foods, full of nutrients that taste good,” Jessica said.
Overall, they focus on seasonal, locally sourced, organic foods — nutritiously dense soups for keeping the body warm in winter and cleansing, light and reenergizing foods, such as berries, for the spring. “It is back to the basics,” said Amy. “It is how people have eaten for thousands of years — seasonally and organically.”
Currently, only breakfast is served, but come summer, they’ll offer smoothies and homemade ice cream. Lunch will be offered later in the year. The bakery features ancient spelt bread and cocao chocolate chip cookies, made from sprouted organic Khorasan wheat. On Saturdays, Redmond Farms’ Raw Milk Truck arrives to sell raw milk, free-range eggs, grass-fed beef and kombucha.
Balancing good physical health with good mental health is also important to the Smiths. In warmer months, they offer sunrise and candlelight yoga on the lawn. “It’s a great chance to be barefoot in the grass, have the sun shine on you and look up at the mountains,” Amy said.
Amy and Jessica, along with help from Draper resident Bob Bradshaw, spent several years restoring Neilson’s two-story brick home at 12825 South Fort Street, taking care to preserve the home’s welcoming sunlit interior. They’ve accented the cafe with antiques including a blue barn door from a Draper farm and a working vintage radio. Outside, they’ve kept Neilson’s dairy barn and the farm yard, which includes an herb garden designed for educating cooks. “If we can touch, feel and smell herbs, than we can better learn how to use them,” Amy said.
The Smiths, both Draper residents, did extensive nutritional and menu research before opening Chestnut Pines and learned that they’re the only cafe in the United States serving dishes exclusively made from sprouted ancient grains and naturally fermented sourdough.
“You truly can’t go anywhere else to eat (that offers such a selection),” Jessica said. “It is a one-of-a-kind experience right here in Draper.”
For hours and class information, visit www.chestnutpines.com