Red Barn Ranch in Harrisonville, Missouri, is a wellspring of agricultural education and recreation, known for its specialty pumpkin patch, silo slide and recent TV fame. The ranch is the brainchild of owner Matt Moreland, a fourth-generation Missouri farmer and agriculture advocate. Moreland is also the Fab Five’s latest metamorphosis – he appeared in the season four finale of Queer Eye, where the quintet spent a week helping him begin a new chapter for himself and his farm after his divorce and the decision to sell his family’s dairy herd.
After hosting his first farm-to-table dinner on Queer Eye (including a course he prepared with the show’s food and wine expert, Antoni Porowski), Moreland has big plans for the future of Red Barn Ranch, including year-round events, regular farm-to-table dinners, an on-site farmers’ market, a winery, a bed and breakfast and an extended farm-visit season.
How do you envision future farm-to-table dinners at Red Barn Ranch? I try really hard not to copycat anything; every idea I have, I try to make unique. [For example], I want to serve chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes with mismatched tableware in a 100-year-old barn, where the conversation is more important than the food and décor. The food will still be good; my mom and my aunt worked for the dairy and coincidentally, they’re really good cooks. We’ll serve food from a real farmer’s wife on a real farm and talk about what’s going on at Red Barn Ranch, what season we’re in and stuff like that.
What was it like cooking the butternut squash soup with Antoni Porowski? It was a little intimidating: He’s as comfortable in the kitchen as I am on a tractor. I don’t feel completely out of place in the kitchen, but I’m not anywhere close to his level … I didn’t want to get something wrong and look silly. But once we got into it, it was really fun. I don’t think I’d ever made soup before that, but if I did, I guarantee that it had meat in it. So when he told me what we were making, I was like, “Where’s the meat? This isn’t going to be good at all!” But honestly, that was the best soup I’ve ever had. Now I have family members that say, “How about you don’t buy me anything, you just make me that soup?”
Tell us about the pumpkin patch. I grow more than 30 varieties of pumpkins – 34 this year to be exact. I didn't know that much about pumpkins when I started growing them, but I’ve learned a lot over the years. My favorite variety is the “One Too Many,” a white pumpkin with red veins that looks like a bloodshot eyeball. Originally, I ordered it by accident. The lady [from the seed catalog] said, “Do you have everything you need?”and I said, “I probably have one too many.” She said, “No, you don’t have that one yet.” I had no idea what she was talking about until it came in the mail.
You said you didn’t know what Instagram was four days before the show. How has Queer Eye and social media impacted the reach of your agricultural knowledge? I’m not a wizard at it by any means, but I have [approximately] 16,000 followers because of the TV show. One day, I posted a video of me bailing hay; it got more than 4,000 views and a light bulb went off: If I take a few seconds to film myself doing what I normally do and post it, I can engage with people I never would have been able to educate in any other way.