March 28, 2012 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
It’s no surprise that Williams-Sonoma, one of the country’s foremost retailers of cooking equipment, would now venture outside the kitchen into the garden. With the launch on April 5 of their new seed-to-table concept, Agrarian, the brand will become purveyors of a variety of products intended to “support a lifestyle of healthy living–connecting the virtues of the homegrown and homemade to everyday lives.”
And it’s good timing on their part. Consumer interest in all things local and/or artisanal has never been greater as people have begun to question the industrialization of their food, looking for a connection to their suppliers and perhaps a sense of community. Consumers want to know the source of their food and other purchases, often looking for quality hand-made products that demonstrate a respect for traditional craftsmanship. The Agrarian collection sources its goods from artisan food producers and crafts people from all over the country and as far away as England and Austria.
As many people have begun to complain of technology overload, there seems to be an increased interest in “slow” lifestyle items like homemade and handmade products as well as DIY projects that bring us nostalgically back to the times when people made many things themselves.
Launching April 5 online, in six stores in the U.S. beginning April 9, and in the Williams-Sonoma catalogue on April 10, the Agrarian line will include:
DIY In the Kitchen and Pantry
• Shiitake Mushroom Logs
• DIY Cheese Kit created by Portland, Oregon cheese makers, Urban Cheese Craft:
• Kombucha Home Brew Kit from Brooklyn:
In and Out of the Garden
• ”Non-disposable” garden-to-kitchen utility apron, above, crafted from denim made on original vintage shuttle looms by Mill Valley designer, Molly de Vries of Ambatalia
• Slate seedling markers from Brooklyn Slate, above, hand picked from the family quarry in upstate New York then transported to their Red Hook, Brooklyn studio for final cutting, cleaning, and packaging in small batches.
• Cedar raised bed planters, herb boxes, and organic fertilizer from Atlanta’s Farmer D
• Austrian copper long handle and hand tools from PKS Tools, below:
• Heirloom Garden Seeds in scrumptiously designed packages, and After the Garden Tart Cherry Soap, below, from Beekman 1802 in Sharon Springs, New York.
I got to chat for a while with the effervescent Fabulous Beekman Boys, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, below, at the Agrarian press preview event in Manhattan last week. Fame has not spoiled them: they were even more interesting and creative than I would have expected, full of great stories, and so nice! Urban Gardens plans to showcase more about them, so keep an eye out here for more from these guys.
On the Farm
For aspiring farmers, Agrarian will offer a Backyard beehive and starter kit as well as Chicken coops of various styles and sizes built by local woodworkers in Northern Michigan:
The new Agrarian collection will be available online April 5, in the Williams-Sonoma catalogue on April 10, and in the following six U.S. stores beginning April 9:
Palo Alto, California
Birkdale Village, North Carolina
Short Hills, New Jersey