Cindy Bliss believes that two very important things have been lost in our fast-paced, increasingly urban, overly digital modern lives.
The first is the simple pleasure of sitting down to dinner each night with family or friends, and savoring the experience. No televisions, no phones. Just loved ones dining together, enjoying the food and the fellowship.
The second is the connection to that food and the respect for all that it took to bring that food to the table for the nourishment of those sitting around it.
Cindy is decades removed from the daily family dinners of her childhood, but since 2019, she’s found herself back home on the Charles County farm where she was raised. As she has set out to breathe new life into her family farm, she’s found unique ways to share those small moments that made her childhood special.
Zekiah Ridge Farm’s second annual Farm to Table Dinner will be served to roughly 100 guests on Thursday, September 29, and those lucky enough to purchase a ticket to this extraordinary outdoor dining experience will find themselves reveling in the simple pleasures of good company, local food and the experience of spending an evening on a picturesque Southern Maryland Farm.
“We used to eat dinner at the farm table every night,” Cindy said. “Dinner was at 6pm, and it didn’t matter what’s happening. I think that simple task of coming together is being lost. At the Farm to Table Dinner, you get to see what’s available here locally and sample some of what they provide.”
A limited number of tickets and sponsorship opportunities remain available and can be purchased online through the Zekiah Ridge Farm website.
Returning to Her Farming Roots
Cindy and her three sisters grew up on 100 acres set off of Route 6 east of La Plata with a house and barns, flanked by fields, at the end of a gravel driveway.
“We had what I would call a sustainable farm,” she said. “Just about everything on our table was raised on the farm. My mom didn’t like to make bread, so we bought that. Everything else was raised right here. Now I see it as a very wholesome way to grow up.”
Cindy’s family raised tobacco, corn and garden vegetables. They raised pigs and showed horses, sheep and cattle in 4H. The girls learned sewing and canning and never shied away from the heavy lifting that farm life required.
Still, as an adult, Cindy left the farm and started her own life, including a career as a welder. She settled in Calvert County, where she remained life and loss intervened in 2019.
That year, during a span of just a week, she lost her father and her husband. When her new reality set in, she found herself at a crossroads. She decided to follow that road home to Zekiah Ridge Farm.
Back in 2014, her family had taken the first steps toward making the farm and the large barn suitable for events when they made initial repairs to it and hosted the wedding of Cindy’s niece.
Now Cindy would take it steps further, transforming the farm into a stunning event space — “Bliss in the Barn,” as she has named it. She hosts dozens of events each year. Dinners, weddings, cocktail hours. Along with her nephew Jarret Martin, she grows flowers that they sells at local markets, and each month the farm hosts “Bottles and Blooms” in partnership with Bridget Vines, a small, family-owned Southern Maryland vineyard.
The transition has not been an easy one, but it has been rewarding. And it’s only beginning.
A Farm to Table Signature Event
The dinner to be held this month at Zekiah Ridge Farm will begin with a cocktail hour from 5pm to 6pm while a quartet plays welcoming music and guests meet and mingle.
Cindy will greet the guests and kick off the meal with the same simple prayer that her father said before every one of those 6pm family dinners.
“Come, Lord Jesus. Be our guest. Bless this food that thou has given us. Amen.”
A catered outdoor dinner will follow with local meats, vegetables, breads and desserts provided by popular Southern Maryland businesses, including Dream Weaver Cafe, Hancock Family Farms, Morris Produce, Fox Run Farm, Three Sisters Industry, Jillians Fare and Wee Bean Coffee Roasters, Jillian’s Fare.
After dinner and dessert, guests will be invited to stroll the farm in the moonlight, soaking up the serene country evening and touring the barn that so many local couples have chosen as the perfect wedding destination.
She hopes that as they reflect on the meal and the surroundings that her guests will regain just a little bit of what has been missing from our modern lives.
“I wanted to raise the awareness of small business and farming in Charles County. I know how hard it is to start up, sustain and market yourself,” she said. “There’s a lot to farming. “As a child, I didn’t realize it as much, but I do know. This is a gift, this little 100-acre farm.”