BRYAN, Texas — Picture this: you’re traveling down a quiet backroad, less than 10 miles south of Lake Bryan that fits just about one, four-door vehicle.
To your left, you see fields, to your right… more fields.
Until, just over a small hill, you see a white wood sign, barely visible to the naked eye.
You get closer and read the word ‘Ronin.’
It’s a small family farm– just 15 acres, but it’s full of sounds and growth.
“It all just made sense to me,” explained Brian Light, the homeowner and farmer for Ronin, when asked about the layout of his farm.
“For whatever reason,” he ended with a smile.
Lilly Bomberg, a Texas A&M student and manager at the farm, tends to the land with just a handful of others before the sun rises each weekday.
They do this because not only have we had the hottest summer on record, but because Brazos County officials have pointed fingers at irrigation for being a major problem during water conservation efforts.
“We've been able to weather the heat pretty well,” she said.
“But we couldn't do this every year.”
Bomberg explained that because they are able to water when most people are asleep, they avoid any problems with overuse, however, it’s still just plain hot.
“All of my previous work experience and education would suggest significantly more quantity decreases,” she said.
No question, the dog days of summer are here, and while the few workers can avoid the heat, the crops cannot.
“You can only grow so much when it's this hot,” she said, while picking eggplant off of a barren vine.
Larry Stein, a professor and horticulturist at Texas A&M explained that water is the answer.
With dry land, and vegetables becoming a bit more than kissed by the sun, nothing will flourish.
“If you don't have water, yeah, they're in a world of hurt right now,” he said.
So, how do you keep the ground wet, when the next chance of rain isn’t in our forecast?
The Ronin team seems to have found a possible answer.
Light, a traveler, began researching how to farm sustainably during his early years in the industry, and found an Irish way of going about it.
You see, potato farms in Ireland use a trench method where the farmer digs trenches to plant the crops. It keeps the seeds moist enough to successfully grow while avoiding overwatering.
“It's able to actually kind of be more effective and not just evaporate off super quickly in one or two days,” Bomberg explained.
Just a few miles back toward town, Ronin the restaurant sits in a 1912 county ice house; a space Brian and his wife Amanda kept a lot of the original renderings.
“It's been pretty slow,” Light said, when talking about the amount of customers.
The couple started the restaurant four years ago, using all of the ingredients, from veggies to herbs, they grow at the farm.
“You get produce and product that's closer to the dirt and directly impacting the local community,” Light said.
The record-high temperatures has led to quieter dining rooms and a less chaotic kitchen.
“You just kind of move around with what's available and what's what's not,” Light said.
However, the Ronin team, both at the farm and at the restaurant, refused to let this weather impact the service and quality they give to folks in the Brazos Valley.
“As frustrating as it gets and watching a crop fail or whatever the case may be, you try again tomorrow and that's part of farming,” Brian Light ended.
The menu at Ronin does change depending on the farm-fresh ingredients.
So, two pieces of advice: Don’t get attached to a favorite dish; it won’t be here forever, and two, check the weekly dishes before you go, just to be sure you can find something you’ll absolutely love.