News & Photos

December 4, 2018

Well it looks like we are done irrigating indefinitely with numerous storms coming through and more on the way. We have been hurrying to get all bare ground cover cropped before the ground becomes too soggy to work. For the most part we’ve succeeded with a few more small areas that will need it if we get another dry spell. 

Existing crops can do a pretty good job, but once they’re gone you have to get right on it with the broadcast seeder. Mitigating erosion of cropland is a high priority for us.

It’s been so dry up till now that we’ve had to irrigate most of our cover crop seed to get it sprouting and doing so before the rains have a chance to cause damaging runoff of valuable topsoil since it takes thousands of years to form.

Unless you are blessed with land in a floodplain that gets topsoil replenished from deposits from parts upstream, you must hold onto what you have by any means necessary.  This is especially true on sloped land.
 
The crops we do still have are loving this weather. The nights continue to stay warm but word has it some cold weather should be continuing this weekend. 

The summer crops are pretty much over and from now on it’s the hardy leafy greens and storable winter squash along with some citrus and persimmons that are still hanging on.  I cannot believe that December is here already; winter is upon us!

Our long season CSA ended today and it was a wonderful run! For the first time ever, we extended the CSA from 28 weeks to 32 weeks this year and I think it was a success for us and for our shareholders.

Though lack of water was an issue during the fall months, we were able to pull of a large assortment of crops that kept our CSA boxes brimming all season long.

Thank you so much to those of you who supported us this year through the CSA program. We hope you enjoyed your weekly veggies as much as we enjoyed growing them and packing them up for you!… Read the rest

November 13, 2018

We are going deep into fall now, but you wouldn’t know it unless you are a night owl or an early riser. The cool nighttime temperatures are finally hitting. This is slowing growth in most of the field crops but unlike other tree fruits, it’s hastening the ripening of the persimmons. It’s cold instead of heat that makes the sugars develop in them and it has been a long time since we’ve had a low night time temperature in the upper 30’s and lower 40’s.

The one glaring issue we have of course is the super dry conditions with humidity near single digits. Its dry, dry, dry and dusty too; that and all the smoke from fires burning to the north of us. We had a fire just north of the farm near Paradise Park (coincidentally) in the redwoods. No loss of homes or lives here thankfully, but nothing compared to the historic fires currently to the north and south of us. Our hearts go out to all those who lost their homes and/or loved ones. 

Down the road and once the air clears and the damage is assessed, I think it’s time to really have more public discussions about the climate disasters we are experiencing in California.  We simply cannot continue on with our old ways.

It may not be obvious to those not directly affected but the longer term drought and increased heat is damaging the greater ecosystems that we have, until now, relied on to produce our food and live in relative safety. Large trees temper the climate and absorb carbon dioxide. If they start dying off due to human made activities, not just deforestation by logging, but by disease and drought we are going to see more of these deadly fires and thus even more adverse weather affecting our vital activities.… Read the rest

October 30, 2018

Happy Halloween and fall greetings from the fields. The season of orange is upon us (no pun intended). Orange winter squash, peppers, persimmons and pumpkins abound with shades of yellow and orange along with their purple leaves quaking in the breeze.
 
Temperatures have not really dropped that much and we are still awaiting our first rains. It’s dry but we needed to get the cover crops going so we are irrigating them to get a growth jump before the colder weather hits. It’s best to get things up and going before mid-November, otherwise growth is slowed down significantly. The same goes for the winter vegetable crops too. Most all of fall/winter plantings are now in the ground and it’s time now to start looking forward to different chores.
 
Okay, it’s election season and we’re going to get political here. The reason being that there are some real changes happening that are having an effect on us all. We have to realize our own part we play in the future. It’s important to be thinking about what kind of a world we are going to leave for our children. Not just our children, but our children’s children’s children’s children.That is what is at stake.
 
Because of the divisive and destructive behavior of our elected representatives, which include leaving the EPA in ruins, we are facing potential ecological collapse of the systems that we rely on, including the climate.
 
Fear mongering and political division are exacerbating other problems like the immigration crisis, general hyper partisanship and hostile public discourse that leads to inaction or worse, violent behavior, as manifested in recent events.
 
Voting is just one thing we can do but voting with your dollars is an even better choice. A better world is possible but we may have to take it upon ourselves to make that happen regardless; what we do now does effect that. Using less fossil fuels and more renewable energy does that. Using less single use plastics does that. Speaking truth loudly does that. Not allowing an authoritarian government controlled by large concentrated corporations to take political control of our lives does that.… Read the rest

October 16, 2018

The nights are getting longer, and with it come cool and crisp mornings. The field crew appreciates that we start out with 15 minutes of exercise before they start out into the fields. Gets the blood flowing and the muscles stretched.

The days continue to be sunny and warm but there’s just a little less of it and the shadows creep across the fields a little earlier every day. Soon our final plantings will be in the ground for the year. Most crops we grow need more days to mature this time of year. The time it took to grow a crop to maturity of cilantro or spinach during July was 45 days but now they will require about 55-60 days. We have to plan for that since we try to have a consistent supply of certain crops and that means having extra open ground available in the fall.

With that and the mixing in of the odd patches of cover crop, this part of the year is just as busy as the springtime planting only with the addition of a full lineup of crops to be harvested.  Woo hoo! Can’t wait until it really slows down…..… Read the rest

October 2, 2018

Fall is in the air. You can feel that the season has changed as we round the corner into fall. The leaves on the trees are changing color and the first chestnuts are falling on our Ocean St. Extension Farm.
 
We just had our final farm dinner of 2018 out there on that farm, under the big chestnut and it was a lovely and delicious evening. Everyone, including those who worked it, seemed to be stoked to celebrate the fall equinox with our guest chef Diego Felix of Colectivo Felix and our perennial guest winemaker Denis Hoey of Odonata Wines. It’s always great to share and connect with folks and to see what’s possible in this land of potential abundance. We hope that this special place remains special and protected for many generations and I think everyone that visits feels it as well.

The fall crop lineup still includes a lot of summer crops that will continue until the real cold weather begins. So far tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and a few melons are coming in. Mixed in with those are the late season crops like apples, potatoes, kale, broccoli, arugula, the various chicories, beets and the winter squash mix of delicata and kabochas. Persimmons are showing their first orange blush so that means they should be coming on at the end of October. Here’s to a bountiful fall season for all of us!… Read the rest

September 11, 2018

It is hard to believe that September is upon us already. It is the peak season and everything we have planted for summer, in addition to our year round crops, is contributing to a crescendo of variety that is hard to keep track of.  I think we counted 58 different food crop items and 7 flower crops on our tables at the farmers markets this week.  It is pretty mind-boggling for a farm our size. Some might think it’s insane but there is a bit of method to this big bunch of madness. Diversity as a strategy for organic/ecological pest control is one of the best ways to mimic how nature creates its own balance and thus be less dependent on conventional forms of control. 
 
We humans have gone through an evolution of food production that likely started out using natural systems in very small localized conditions. Then as agriculture became more widespread, it went through phases of trial and error until we reached what we thought was the pinnacle of modern science. In this mass production scale mono-cropping type of agriculture, success was achieved for a time by trying to control every aspect of the food system regardless of what was going on around it. What was going on around it was nature starting to fight back by trying it’s best to repopulate ecological diversity with its natural control agents, namely insects, weeds and diseases. Man succeeded for a time in suppressing nature. This success is now seen as temporary as it has become harder and harder to fend off ever more resistant diseases and pests in the agricultural sphere by having to develop more powerful forms of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Much of agriculture, even conventional,  is starting to take notice and is implementing biological controls more and more, not because of appearances but because they actually work in the long term. The old adage that “Nature knows best” still applies.
 
Speaking of nature, the climate is being fickle this year. The usual summer heat we get near the coast in September is not showing up so far but we are hoping to see some sunnier weather before the end of the month arrives.  In the meantime, enjoy the bounty and the diversity!… Read the rest

July 24, 2018

Keeping up is the name of the game in late July. It’s full summer mayhem in the fields right now. Every day it seems like another summer crop is maturing. We have been patiently waiting for tomato season and as of today, it is on! Quantities will be increasing daily and it will soon overwhelm us as usual, but like I say, it’s better to have too much than to not have enough! 
 
Although we are not baking like some folks inland, we are getting a fair amount of sun after the fog burns off. Nighttime temperatures are remaining warm due to the coastal fog cover that rolls in. Due to this, there is an acceleration of the ripening of crops. The Early Girl, heirloom and Sungold cherry tomatoes are all pumping out the first few colorful boxes. You should be seeing them at the local farmers markets this week. 
 
Pest issues have been minimal this year thanks to our very diverse plantings and the surrounding natural habitats. The one exception is that the Italian basil is now starting to be impacted by the dreaded black mold which infects the underside of the basil leaves. This has become more and more of a problem in recent years and we have yet to find a resistant variety to combat it.
 
Despite that mold issue on the basil, all the fruit crops are looking good. The Blenheim apricots came off well for us this year and the plums are ongoing and looking and smelling great! 
 
We placed all of our pheromone lures in the apple trees. These traps confuse the Codling Moth once it starts looking to reproduce and multiply; the proverbial worm in the apple. It’s the single best non-toxic effective control known. The apples are delayed this year but the fruit set looks good. Enjoy the summer!  Fall will be here before we know it…… Read the rest

July 10, 2018

The aromas on the farm are all the more potent due to the hot and sunny days we have had of late. Most of the smells wafting around are good…the surrounding redwoods, the bay laurel trees and of course all our patches of culinary herbs.
 
Now the added smell of ripening summer fruit is in the air. Plums, peaches and apricots are all changing colors and emitting their intoxicating aromas. It’s a great time but it also means the workload is doubling up. If there were 18 hours of daylight, it might still not be enough for us.
 
Irrigating, harvesting and weeding, they all need doing. Our walk in cooler is overflowing on a daily basis as we try to keep up with the summer bounty. We try to set aside times for all the different jobs but the daily harvest requirements leave very little time for much else. Prioritizing what needs to get done versus what has to wait is the game right now. 
 
It’s always interesting to see how people’s food choices change with the seasons. We end up selling a lot less kale and lettuce once summer fruit season starts. Makes sense right?  Fresh fruit is only around for a much shorter window, so why not make the most of it while you can? 
 
Flowers of all different kinds are also in bloom, finally. The majestic sunflowers, spiky gladiolas and the eye-catching dahlias all break up the neat crop rows and make work a little more pleasant.
 
If you haven’t been to a farmers’ market in a while, now is a great time to go. The diversity of vegetables, fruit and flowers is truly inspiring and eye catching!… Read the rest

June 26, 2018

Our regular weekly plantings this spring are now awakening. The cool days of May delayed some of the crops but have now given way to a Summer Solstice explosion. Everything seems to be happening all at once. Well almost everything. Except for a couple rogue early cherry tomatoes, we have yet to see any ripe tomatoes, peppers or tree fruit but that doesn’t mean the rest of the crops aren’t absolutely going bonkers. 
 
Our time is now being spent mostly picking pallet after pallet of cilantro, lettuce, fennel, radicchio, spinach and other greens and root crops. Other summery things are coming into maturity as well. Crops such as flowers, basil and zucchini are keeping us hopping with precious little time to do much else. Once this initial plethora has evened out we’ll get into a more consistent rhythm of harvest, cultivation, weed control, irrigation and more planting.
 
Maintaining a diverse local food culture has been a long term goal of ours in the farming community.  We are always looking for new crops to grow and experiment with year after year. In addition to that, a lot of what we do, instead of just the hard work of growing food, goes into keeping markets open and strong. It also goes beyond just maintaining, it also includes laying the groundwork for a longer term infrastructure. Shopping at a local farmers market or buying into a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share is still a relatively small part of the overall food system in our community; even though we may have a big head start over other communities. There’s still room for it to grow and change and become more varied in what is available, affordable and consistent. Thanks to all who share our common concerns and goals!… Read the rest

June 12, 2018

Harvest time is starting to gather steam as temperatures are really starting to warm up.  We are harvesting pallet loads of cilantro, fennel, radicchio, dill, lettuce, spinach and dandelion greens for our wholesale accounts with an even more diverse list of crops for our local retail and wholesale accounts. We are happy to see things finally warming up to the point where we are on the cusp of summertime abundance. It’s hard to believe we are less than 2 weeks away from the summer solstice!
 
We have what is likely our full crew both in the field and at the markets. The larger labor issues facing agriculture have become obvious to us.  We simply aren’t getting any new and qualified field workers coming by looking for work. By qualified, I mean reliable, capable and skilled farm workers; people who really know the work and have the skills to make the whole process work smoothly and efficiently. So, we are doing our best to hang on to the people we have and make the workplace satisfying, interesting and most of all worth it for them. We wish we could be even more productive but this is the limiting factor we face right now. Regardless, we are staying true to our principals and standards and thank everyone for supporting us while we do so.
 
It is hard not to be concerned these days. I am not going to sugarcoat the realities facing the future of food. It is something that is invisible to most because of our dependence on supermarkets to supply us with an abundance of everything at any time of the year. We may not be noticing it but California’s fresh food production, as we’ve known it, is in a slow motion collapse and moving elsewhere. There aren’t enough people and there isn’t the financial viability to keep it going without some kind of reset.
 
The vast majority of people have over the last 100 years, disconnected from our agricultural roots.  This is a choice made, whether consciously or unconsciously, as a result of technology moving us towards convenience and alternate priorities.… Read the rest