2014 Taste of Santa Clara Valley

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When: Sunday, September 14th, 5-9pm

Where: Guglielmo Winery

1480 E. Main Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA

What: The “farm to fork” dinner will highlight the bounty of the farmers of the Santa Clara Valley that represent the history and future of the Valley of the Heart’s Delight. Prepared by Chef Nicolai Tuban of Bon Appétit Management Company, the menu will be fully sourced from local farmers. Attendees will be able to experience fresh, local, and delicious food at the peak of the season. Proceeds from the event will support CAFF’s program work-which directly benefit California family farmers.

For Tickets Go To:

http://tastescv2014.bpt.me/

 

 

 

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Yolo County Fair Gala Celebration

The Yolo County Fair is proud to present its 8th annual Opening Night Gala, showcasing our county’s wonderful agricultural projects and produce. Visitors from near and far converge on the Fairgrounds to enjoy first peeks at the 2014 educational booths and exhibits, as well as the Fair itself.

This Gala will be held Wednesday, August 13th, from 6:00-8:00 pm in the Agriculture Building of the Yolo County Fair Grounds. No matter what the weather is like, the Ag Building will be both the hottest and coolest place to be.

Mix and mingle with local community leaders, growers, and all your old friends from Fairs past. The Gala will feature local wines, olive oils, honey, nuts, jams, meats, produce and restaurant fare, as well as performances by some of the best local musicians. Attendees will sample the very best of our local harvests and products, see displays of some of the great work and craftsmanship our friends, neighbors, and students produced this year, and generally enjoy the evening amidst the backdrop of the fair.
This event sells out quickly, so get your tickets at the Yolo County Fair office for $15. The price goes up to $20 at the gate. For more information, please contact the Fair Office at (530) 402-2222 or Monique Garcia at (530) 867-0932

The Yolo County Fair is the largest and oldest free gate fair in California. We owe this continued success to the hundreds of dedicated volunteers, the staunch support of the County and community, and our generous sponsors and partners.

See you at the Gala!

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Gaucho Certified Farmers Market

The Gaucho Certified Farmers Market at UC Santa Barbara is an avenue for staff, students, faculty, and the local community to access fresh, locally grown produce & artisan goods. The market is held every Wednesday, from 11-3pm in the Cheadle/Campbell Hall Plaza (formerly Lot 23).UCSB FM 1
The market’s mission is to bring together all facets of sustainability, helping to educate UCSB and the local community on healthy eating and living. By defining “local” as anything grown or produced in the Tri-County area (Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo), the market acts as a platform to promote the rich bounty of the Central Coast. 
 
Since its inception last October 2013, the market has become a resource for education and insight into sustainable food production. As a former Gaucho myself and avid supporter of local food, I came on board to help with social media/marketing. With my connections to local farmers through my “Meet Your Farmer” online column (http://www.independent.com/news/Farmers), I was able to help connect local farmers to the market. 
 
This experience has been incredibly rewarding on a personal and professional level and I am eager to see the market grow for future Gauchos. I look forward to working with the Santa Barbara Fair & Expo to help showcase the amazing work of our local farmers, our staff, and the Santa Barbara community.
 
Rachel Hommel – Social Media Coordinator & Local Food Advocate
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Growing a Community – Santa Cruz County Fair’s Community Garden

IMG_1883Growing a Community – Santa Cruz County Fair’s Community Garden

Mesa Verde Gardens now has 5 community gardens in Watsonville. One is located on the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. The first year found all plots being used by local families to raise a variety of vegetables and flowers by the end of the season in October.

Agricultural History Project helped used one plot for growing corn for demonstrations at Yesterday’s Farm during the Santa Cruz County Fair.  The seeds were planted by families during the May Day on the Farm event. The garden also has a community corn patch which Agricultural History Project helped maintain and harvest.

Cost is $6.00/month and includes 12’ x 15’ plot, water, irrigation, plants, seeds, and some tools in a community tool shed.

For more information: http://www.mesaverdegardens.org.IMG_1879

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Celebrating 50 years of Family Fun!

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Apple Hill® Growers Association- Celebrating 50 years of Family Fun!

Where do you go for a small farm experience, steeped in the traditions of generations and paced to the rhythm of Mother Nature? Where can you pick your own luscious berries and crisp apples, savor a hot slice of pie, sip fresh-pressed apple juice, watch your child select the perfect pumpkin or Christmas tree, or bury your nose in the fragrance of lavender or basil? Head to El Dorado County’s Apple Hill® Growers Association ranches for an old-fashioned day of make-your-own family fun.

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The Apple Hill® Growers Association was created in 1964 out of a need to keep agricultural alive after a pear blight destroyed El Dorado County’s robust pear industry. The pear blight took production from 52,000 tons in 1958 to 8,435 tons in 1965. Dick Bethell, the county’s pomology specialist and farm advisor, Gene Bolster a local grower, Edio Delfino, the county’s agricultural commissioner, and Bob Tuck, a retired army officer, wanted a way to to keep their land in agriculture and to preserve their rural lifestyle. In 1962 Bolster and Delfino visited Oak Glen in Southern California to observe their successful ranch marketing program and returned to Camino armed with information which they used to gather the local farmers together to form the Association which became known as “Apple Hill”.

GOURDS (2)_cropOur ranches emphasize heritage farming and sustainability, and have diversified to enable sales outside of when apples are ripe. Products you can find at the ranches range from award-winning wines, to a myriad of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, to pumpkins, squash and guards, to Christmas Trees, to olive oil to cherries, and there are still pears!  The ranches discovered that when people visited to purchase apples they also wanted baked treats, and so the “Matriarchs of Apple Hill” started a Smorgy- a buffet line of pies, crisps and turnovers which grew into the individual bake shops of today.

In 2014 Apple Hill® Growers celebrate their 50th Anniversary. Join the ranches in June for blueberries through December for Christmas Trees. Bring your family and your camera!The focus of the Association is agriculture and agri-tourism, offering guests an opportunity to meet the folks who grow the fruit they purchase, to enjoy a “day in the country”, and to show people who are disassociated from the source of their food the cycles of agriculture. These guests to Apple Hill® Growers see that the farmers are eating the same food they are selling, validating the interest in returning to locally sourced food. The Apple Hill® farms connect farmers to eaters.

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Grazing for Solutions

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Grazing for Solutions

Holistic Integration of Animals into Orchards and Vineyards

 The immediate and long-term benefits of integrating animals in orchard and vineyard operation – such as the use of raptors for rodent control or sheep for weed suppression – will be a topic of discussion at the upcoming Sustainable Ag Expo, November 18 and 19 at the Madonna Inn Expo Center in San Luis Obispo, California.

Held Tuesday, November 19, the Holistic Management session will provide attendees an overview of integrating animals into orchard and vineyard systems via the experience of top industry experts and farm managers.

“Farmers are always interested in learning about ‘new’ ways to diversify and expand their management toolbox. We’re excited to bring both the science and practical information of this strategy to our growers,” said Kris Beal of the Vineyard Team, which has hosted the Sustainable Ag Expo for almost a decade.

Presenting an introduction of holistic farm management will be Robert Rutherford, Sheep Specialist at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, followed by Kelly Mulville, a national leader in holistic management and vineyard grazing, who will share his practical expertise on “The Economical & Ecological Benefits of Extended-Season Vineyard Grazing.”

According to Mullville, “One of the most dramatic results of extending the grazing period in vineyards is the potential to decrease water use while increasing yield and quality. Weeds and cover crops become a resource to be harvested, adding value to both the animal and the soil.”

Finally, Chris Kerston, Managing Partner of Chaffin Family Orchards, will discuss “Integrating Animals into a Diverse Orchard System,” followed by a Q & A session.

Staged in an accessible format under one roof at the Madonna Inn Expo Center, the 9th Annual Sustainable Ag Expo offers inventive presentations and an innovative trade show targeted at farmers, agricultural professionals, and pest control advisors. The two-day educational meeting will also provide ample continuing education credits and an exhibitor showcase.  

Since its inception, the Sustainable Ag Expo has focused on the latest trends in sustainability and hot topics in California agriculture. Visit SustainableAgExpo.org for more information, including attendee registration and the full schedule of events. The Vineyard Team can be reached at 805.466.2288.

The Vineyard Team is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable viticulture practices on the Central Coast since 1994. Visit VineyardTeam.orgto learn more about the Vineyard Team and its SIP™ (Sustainability in Practice) Program.

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Fresno County Harvest Wine Journey

TRV FB Photo Fall 2013 with text 

Twin Rivers Vintners Association invites you to come experience fall in the country with our annual event “Fresno County Harvest Wine Journey”. As the grape leaves delight you with their gorgeous fall colors, the winemakers invite you to come see how we make wine and celebrate harvest with us. This year’s event is FREE! How does this work? Just visit our website and print out our map. Then, simply choose a winery to begin your wine tasting journey and go at your own pace. Each winery has something unique to offer and on this special weekend, we not only have our delicious signature wines and craft beers but vendors, music, and food. On this special Veteran’s Day weekend each winery is offering special discounts for our veterans. Fresno County Wine Journey has something to offer everyone from our 6 wineries within 5 miles West of the 99, Fresno State, two beer tasting locations, two wine tasting rooms, a winery in Sanger, and our newly added Ramos Torres in Kingsburg.

When: November 9th, 10th, and 11th 2013 from 12-5PM

Where: The Wineries of Fresno County Twin Rivers Vintners Association

Cost: FREE- Your own glass is your ticket into each winery

Website: www.fresnocountywinejourney.com

Need a ride? Visit our website and reserve a ticket on the wine bus and leave the driving to us.

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Come to the Fair in Riverside County!

Come to the Fair in Riverside County!

If you’re anywhere close to the Lake Perris Fairgrounds in Riverside County from October 5 through October 13, please stop by and visit the “Discover California Farms” exhibit at the Southern California Fair. The University of California Small Farm Program is teaming up with the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Division of Fairs and Expositions, Riverside County farmers, farmers’ market managers, Master Gardeners, beekeepers and others to bring you a taste of the best from Riverside County Farms. There will be lots to see, learn, do and taste. We’ll be giving away some big prizes …. come by to learn more!

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Here is some of what’s going on:

Visit “Discover California Farms” in the Southern California

Fair commercial building

  • On Saturday, October 5 (11 a.m. to 10 p.m.):
    • See a demonstration and meet the organizers of the nationally-recognized Farmers Market Salad Bars operating in 29 Riverside Unified School District elementary schools
    • See an observation beehive, learn about bees and how they make honey
    • Plant your own cilantro seed to take home and grow
    • Taste and buy local fresh fruits from local farmers
    • Pick up maps of Riverside County farmers’ markets, farm stands & holiday farms
    • Learn how you can get a box of fresh produce every week from a local farm
    • Games and activities for children
    • Free recipe books and classroom materials in English and Spanish
    • Talk with Master Gardeners about your gardening question

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  • On Sunday, October 6, Monday October 7 and Tuesday October 8 (11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Sunday, 4:00  – 10:00 p.m. Monday & Tuesday):
    • Help pedal a bike that makes smoothies in a bike-powered blender, and have a taste
    • See an observation beehive, learn about bees and how they make honey
    • Plant your own cilantro seed to take home and grow
    • Taste and buy local fresh fruits from local farmers
    • Pick up maps of Riverside County farmers’ markets, farm stands & holiday farms
    • Learn how you can get a box of fresh produce every week from a local farm
    • Games and activities for children
    • Free recipe books and classroom materials in English and Spanish
    • Master Gardeners will answer gardening questions
    • Free recipe books and classroom materials in English and Spanish
    • Talk with Master Gardeners about your gardening questions
  • On Monday October 7 and Tuesday October 8
    • Learn about new health insurance coverage options coming soon with “Covered California” – Health information provided by Molina Healthcare
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Bounty of the County at The Contra Costa County Fairgrounds

The Contra Costa County Fairgrounds is proud to announce its newest annual event the Bounty of the County. Showcasing all the wonderful businesses and commodities that Contra Costa has to offer, we will be featuring local wine, restaurants, arts & crafts, as well as other area businesses.

This outdoor event will take place in the Front Park of the Fairgrounds. It is the perfect event to bring your family down for a walk through our front park to enjoy wine tasting from Viano Vineyards, Cline Cellars, & Bloomfield Vineyards, music, and other items unique to our County. Partnering with the Contra Costa County Farm Bureau and Paradise Skate, we hope to bring the County together for a fun way to support the local businesses that reside in our County. The Bounty of the County is September 29, 2013 from 2:00pm to 6:00pm. Admission is $5 to enter the event and parking is FREE. There is also a tasting package available for $15 that gets you admission, 5 drink tokens, and a souvenir wine glass to take home with you. The Contra Costa County Fairgrounds is located at 1201 West 10th Street in Antioch. For more information on tickets or becoming a vendor or sponsor please contact the Fairgrounds Office at (925)757-4400 ex 9 or by visit the Fairgrounds website as www.ContraCostaCountyFair.com

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Sacramento chef helps pioneer local farm-to-fork movement

Selland is a farmers market regular. Shopping at a market in downtown Sacramento, he poses with Magda Morgan of Twin Peaks Orchards in Newcastle, from whom he’s bought fruit for many years.

 

Sacramento chef Randall Selland is in his element. He’s waving to familiar faces and chatting with complete strangers. A policeman on a bike rides up and they share a quick laugh. Clearly, the officer knows Selland, who jokes, “Did you just give my van a ticket?”

The place? Not one of Selland’s popular restaurants, as you’d expect. But rather, he’s at the farmers market in downtown Sacramento.

In fact, if the farmers market had a mayor, Selland could hold the honor. Donning signature tomato-print pants or ones with flying pigs, he comes here at least once or twice a week. “I love looking at and buying fresh food, whether it’s fish, strawberries or squash,” he said.

On this sunny morning, he’s excited about black raspberries from Placerville, peaches from Newcastle and basil from Exeter. The chef is also thrilled to see the farmers who supply him with the fruits—and vegetables—of his labor.

The Sacramento area is home to about 50 regional farmers markets.

 

 

 

“For me, it’s about personal relationships and that’s what I love,” Selland said. “I like working with people.”

The feeling seems to be mutual. “He’s the real deal,” insisted Heidi Watanabe of Watanabe Farms in West Sacramento. Watanabe, along with husband Clark, a fourth-generation farmer, grows tomatoes, garlic, squash, peppers, greens and peaches on their 7-acre farm. She met Selland at a farmers market 12 years ago and they’ve been doing business ever since. The chef even drives out to the farm if he needs something special. “Randall is super hands-on,” Clark Watanabe said.

Truly, relationships are the backbone of Selland Family Restaurants. The family owns four highly successful eateries, three which have distinctly different business models: The Kitchen, Ella (named after his granddaughter) and Selland’s Market Café in two Sacramento-area locations. Selland insists their success wasn’t mapped out in a perfectly executed business plan; rather, it was the serendipitous result of a passion for farm-to-fork eating, before that now-trendy term even existed.

It’s a family affair. The Selland family at The Kitchen in Sacramento: from left, Tamera Baker, Nancy Zimmer, Randall Selland, Owen Nelson, Josh Nelson and Gina Funk Nelson.

An artist by trade

Art was Selland’s first career. Originally a stained-glass artist, he married Nancy Zimmer, a gallery director who shared his enthusiasm for creating beautiful things. “One thing my wife and I had in common, even when really poor, was that we like to eat good food, fresh food,” Selland recalled.

Their son, Josh Nelson, said, “I can honestly say I don’t think I ever ate a cafeteria meal at school. I always had a good boxed lunch.” Nelson, along with his sister and company co-founder Tamera Baker and his wife, Gina Funk Nelson, all work for Selland Family Restaurants.

“(My parents) weren’t always as efficient as they are now, so we had a lot of late dinners as a family, eating at 8 or 9 o’clock as kids,” Nelson said.

Freshly picked berries highlight a dessert.

Those late-night dinners sparked an idea with their mom. Zimmer, the quieter of the Selland duo (“I like to be behind the scenes,” she said), started catering gallery events. Soon, friends were asking for private, catered dinners, with both Zimmer and Selland cooking, but Selland putting on a show of sorts, explaining where ingredients came from and what they were cooking.

“I was doing the same thing I used to do—art—but now people have to eat what I do,” Selland said with a laugh.

Executive Chef John Griffiths, left, and Richard Horiike prepare one course of a six-course meal.

The dinners quickly became popular and The Kitchen was born, 22 years ago. Today, there’s a two-month waiting list to get in.

A revolutionary restaurant
Blink, and you’ll miss it. The Kitchen, tucked into an inconspicuous location (there isn’t even a sign), is a highly acclaimed restaurant that serves demonstration dinners to guests from around the world. It’s literally dinner and a show, as Selland or new Executive Chef John Griffiths entertain guests with an informative and humorous presentation of their six-course meal.

Selland checks out tomatoes growing at Watanabe Farms in West Sacramento.

These exclusive dinners happen five nights a week to a packed house of 50. Guests can mingle with chefs and wander back into the kitchen to check out all the preparations.

The dining room has a stage where Selland shines. “Now see this egg?” he asks in a booming voice. “It is going into your opening dish of Warmed Lobster Vichyssoise with Robiola Egg Yolk Raviolo, English Pea and a Hint of Smoked Pork.”

 

There’s often a surprise or two—especially for farmers. Sometimes, if they are dropping off supplies, Selland will call them to the stage for impromptu introductions.

While the unexpected limelight doesn’t always appeal to Heidi Watanabe (especially wearing work clothes in front of a group of well-dressed diners), she enjoys seeing her farm fare on the menu. “It’s very rewarding,” she said. “It is nice to see the end product.”

Fourth-generation farmer Clark Watanabe and his wife, Heidi, grow produce used in Selland’s restaurants.

Today, the Selland family’s restaurants run the gamut from high-end (The Kitchen and Ella) to grab-and-go (Selland’s Market Café). Prices vary, but one thing is constant: You’ll always find farm-fresh ingredients.

Many of the restaurant’s ingredients are grown within a 50- to 100-mile radius of Sacramento. This simple fact sparked another light-bulb moment in the family, one that they hope will put Sacramento on the farm-to-fork map.

Selland smells garlic that’s been harvested at Watanabe Farms.

Digging Sacramento

“My wife read an article … that chefs were out and farmers were in, that farmers were going to be the new rock stars,” Nelson recalled.

That got him thinking. His hometown had both: a burgeoning food scene with great restaurants, and farming. The Sacramento region has thousands of acres of farmland and 50 regional farmers markets. His family’s livelihood was based on the area’s bounty. And Nelson thought, “Why not promote Sacra­mento for its true identity—America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital?”

“Sacramento is obviously uniquely positioned geographically with the class A soil, rivers and climate,” he said. “I think it’s a title that is fitting and one we deserve.”

His father agreed. “To me, what is exciting is that instead of people thinking of us as not having a tourism identity, now we are going to be known for what we really are—an agritourism center,” Selland said.

Sacramento chefs enjoy easy access to farm-fresh produce throughout the year.

Farm-to-fork: a team approach
To achieve his vision, Nelson worked with many community members to officially designate Sacramento as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. He met with Mayor Kevin Johnson, who embraced the idea and got the backing of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, which has taken up the charge in promoting it.

And to commemorate its new distinction, Sacramento will celebrate the city’s first-ever Farm-to-Fork Week, Sept. 21-29.

But similar to when Austin, Texas, claimed to be the Live Music Capital, declaring official mottos can elicit criticism. In the case of Sacramento, some skeptics noted that while the region grows a lot of food, much of it isn’t consumed here.

Selland interprets that information in a positive light. “Yes, 98 percent of food grown here gets shipped out, but it gets shipped out for a reason—because it is high in quality. So it goes to Japan, China, it goes across the U.S. That’s what we’re known for.”

Additionally, he said, Sacramento as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital isn’t intended to diminish what other regions in California and throughout the nation do and grow, but simply to showcase Sacramento to the world.

As Selland said, “People will come here to eat at our restaurants, go to the farmers markets, see what we are doing and enjoy the bounty that we’ve had all this time.”

 

 

Jennifer Harrison
info@californiabountiful.com

                                           Farm-to-Fork Week in Sacramento

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From Sept. 21 through Sept. 29, Sacramento will celebrate its distinction as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, highlighting the region’s bounty, agricultural heritage and culinary culture. Events include wine pairings, a festival on Capitol Mall and the Farm-to-Fork Tower Bridge Dinner, where more than 30 top chefs, including Randall Selland, will serve a family-style meal to 600 guests. The California Bountiful Foundation and California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom will take part in the dinner. For details, go to www.farmtoforkcapital.com.

 

 

 

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