A Sunny Start To The Day

Student farmers at the Oasis Farm in Middletown prepare inspired breakfasts.

I am spreading clotted cream on my raisin-packed scones and looking longingly at the berry jam that our spot-on server has brought to our table. It is not to be resisted. I take my spoon, dip it into the jam and place a fat dollop atop the cream that now blankets the scone. My smile only widens after I take a big bite.

Scone with clotted cream and jam

Happiness is a morning meal at Oasis Farm’s Summer Breakfast Cafe.

Served seasonally on Saturdays—by reservation from 9 to 11 am—at the farm on Sleepy Hollow Road in Middletown, the Oasis breakfast is my favorite meal in New Jersey. The from-scratch menu is prepared by students using produce and products straight from Oasis Farm. It is also served by students, who study agriculture, art, food preparation and service, nutrition, humane treatment of animals, conservation and sustainability of the land.

Oasis TLC, its proper name, stands for Ongoing Autistic Success in Society. Its student farmer-artisans live, study and work on campus during the school year, exactly as many college students do. During the summer, however, they commute to Oasis to tend to farm chores and do work associated with programs, such as Oasis Farm’s Summer Breakfast Cafe.

Spearheaded by Mai and John Cleary, area residents who have worked tirelessly for years with Middletown public officials, the Monmouth Conservation Foundation, New Jersey’s Green Acres program and New York/New Jersey Baykeepers to create the farm and its programs for autistic individuals, Oasis does more than its name implies: It is a beacon of inspiration.

That the breakfasts served here are downright delicious is mere icing on the cake—or, in my case, heaping helpings of clotted cream and jam on the scone.

There are freshly squeezed juices to start and a platter of homemade bread that is both hearty to the palate and light to the bite. As I smear a slice with butter, Mai Cleary tells me Oasis is hoping to purchase a cow so the students can have farm milk to use to make their own butter.

Freshly baked bread

Students are already making their own goat’s milk yogurt, which is served in a parfait at breakfast layered with jam and granola. (I purchase a glass jar of the Oasis yogurt to take home, so I can follow the students’ culinary lead.)

Fritatta

Meanwhile, sitting on the porch of the Oasis farmhouse, I slice into a frittata that’s a good five inches tall. It’s made with eggs from Oasis chickens and a veritable bushel of its vegetables—asparagus, kale, garlic scapes and spring onions most prominently. There are super-thin slices of tomato that bring a pop of color to the top of the elegant eggy offering. Buttermilk waffles, anyone? Yes, please, especially served with maple syrup.

And, some day, butter made from the Oasis cow’s milk.

The service team reads me very well: I do not want to leave this place, where I have been well fed and well cared for by a skilled and hard-working crew. They point out the yogurt and bread sold at the cafe’s shop for take home, as well as the other items (tote bags and yoga mat carriers made from recycled plastic shopping bags, scented bar soaps, woven and knitted scarves) made at Oasis.

These will do me nicely indeed until I can eat breakfast at Oasis Farm again.

Oasis Farm Summer Breakfast Cafe is reservation only and will be open 9 to 11 am on the following Saturdays this summer: July 8, 15, 22 and 29 and August 5, 12 and 19. To inquire about reservations, e-mail [email protected].

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