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Jason Rose

New Dips & Dressings for Sunnier Days

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of our new seasonal dips as well as three new, house-made salsas, and the debut of our house-made salad dressings. Our chefs have been tasting and testing to bring our guests peak season flavors and new classics, just in time for beautiful spring weather and al fresco dining.

LabnehPeaHummus (6)Our house-made Labneh is as rich as it is creamy, made with Straus whole-milk yogurt that is strained for 22 hours to drain away much of the whey. It’s then topped with extra-virgin olive oil and beautiful za’atar for flavor and texture. It’s the perfect dip for crudité and pita bread or chips, amazing with spring lamb, excellent with grilled salmon (chef’s tip: fold in some chopped dill), and lovely in the morning smeared on toast with honey and crushed hazelnuts. As versatile as it is delicious, it also serves as a savory sandwich spread or a creamy salad dressing (just add lemon juice and a touch of vinegar).

Our new Pea Hummus showcases the peak season flavors of spring peas, combining English peas and snap peas with garlic, tahini, mint, and lemon juice for a seasonal take on traditional chickpea hummus. We love it with grilled salmon.

Beyond dips, our house-made salad dressings are now available by the bottle including our classic Lemon Vinaigrette, our Miso-Ginger Vinaigrette, and our Caesar Dressing. Your salads won’t be the same!

HouseMadeSalsaTrioFinally, we’re introducing three new, house-made salsas to spice up your kitchen: a Roasted Tomato Salsa with tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapenos, akin to a classic “salsa mexicana,” a Tomatillo Salsa made with tomatillos, avocado, cilantro, onion, and jalapenos, and finally, Irma’s Salsa, a mole-esque salsa with ancho and chipotle peppers and tomatoes named after Chef Eddy’s wife as it is her recipe (chef’s tip: brush Irma’s salsa on fish or chicken, or use it as a sauce for enchiladas). Whether you’re having a park picnic or planning a dinner party, our new dips, salsas, and salad dressings will make the perfect addition to impress your guests!


Waverley

Happy Passover from Bi-Rite!

FINALSederPlatewGoblet The celebration of Passover is an ancient and rich tradition, and we are happy to offer wide range of grocery, produce, and butcher items to complete your seder preparations, as well as a complete, house-made Passover menu so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family.

Our produce department will be featuring fresh horseradish root and organic, curly parsley for seder plates, while our Grocery team has a collection of Passover essentials and guest favorites, like the extremely limited-production, handmade Vermatzah. Made by Julie Sperling and Doug Freilich in Middletown Springs, Vermont, who carry on a 5,000-year-old tradition of baking matzah on an open fire.

BrisketOur butchers are showcasing beautiful, 100% Grass-Fed BN Ranch Beef Brisket for your Passover table. If you’re cooking for Passover, try our Zinfandel-Braised Beef Brisket recipe and shop it conveniently from our online store to have the ingredients delivered to your door! If you prefer lamb for Passover, we have two wonderful lamb producers supplying us with the season’s finest, tastiest lamb.  Learn more about what makes our lamb program so special here.

BlueberryCheesecake_InstacartIf time is tight, our chefs have crafted a complete, house-made Passover menu for your dining convenience, including old favorites and new, seasonal specialties. It wouldn’t be a holiday meal without desserts from Bi-Rite Creamery, like our Flourless Cheesecake – creamy, luscious and topped with the season’s finest blueberries! Our house-made Passover menu will be available in the Markets and for order on Instacart April 18 through April 30, for delivery within an hour.

To round out your meal, our wine team has curated standout kosher wines that go above and beyond the traditional Manischewitz (though we have that, too!).  Try the Domaines Bunan Côtes de Provence Rouge 2012, a full-bodied Cabernet Suavignon with savory notes of black fruits and spice, or the Golan Heights “Yarden” Sauvignon Blanc 2014, a classic Bordeaux-style Sauvignon Blanc from a cool climate site in Israel with herbaceous character and complex fruit.

Short on time? Let Instacart shop for you – find everything you need for Passover from our online Passover aisle and have it all delivered to your door!


Simon

Give Peas a Chance!

When the springtime rolls around in the Bay Area most folks can’t wait to sink their teeth into a juicy local strawberry. After eating California citrus for the past four months, we’re all ready for some delicate sweetness.  Strawberries aren’t the only sweet produce treat that comes with the cool spring weather. This is time to give peas a chance!

Peas are the perfect crop to grow in the spring because they like the cool weather and farmers can get plant them in the late winter so they have a crop to harvest in the early spring.  At Bi-Rite, we love to celebrate Sugar Snap Peas and English Peas throughout April and May when they are eating the best, because they go so well other spring crops like spring onions, green garlic, wild mushrooms, and baby lettuce.

IMG_6554Sugar Snap Peas are the most common peas and much easier to grow than English Peas.  Farmers harvest Sugar Snaps when the peas are crunchy and sweet.  Snap Peas are a great snack for kids since the entire peas and shell can be eaten raw.  English Peas, on the other hand, are a little more challenging for the farmer to grow because no matter how big and beautiful the outer shell might be it all depends on the size and flavor of the peas inside.  If a farmer harvests the English Peas too early the peas inside are too small and if they are harvest to late the peas lose their tenderness and become starchy.  The outer shells of the English Peas are too fibrous to eat, but peas are also a great snack raw. The Produce buyers at Bi-Rite are always shopping around to find the best eating peas because the quality can change drastically from one farmer to another.

Sugar Snap and English Peas are very easy to prepare.  They can both be blanched for 1 to 2 minutes to brighten the flavor and get rid of any starchiness that might be in the pea. It’s very important to rinse the peas you have blanched with ice water to prevent them from over cooking. English Peas can be tossed on top of a salad or risotto and make great puree.  Sugar Snap Peas don’t puree well but chopped up can be used as substitute for English peas when needed. Sugar Snap Peas are great for stir fry and are a lot harder to overcook compared to gentle English Peas. The pea itself isn’t the only part of the pea plant that is a joy to eat – we also have pea shoots and tendrils, which offer the fresh, grassy flavor of green peas and are beautiful in salads, for sautéing, or adding to pastas and risottos.

The kitchen at Bi-Rite is also celebrating this delicious spring crop, with a brand new summer pea hummus in the pre-pack case! It’s delicious and perfect for park picnics. While you might find peas at grocery stores year round,  spring is when they local peas are have the perfect texture and flavor – next time you’re in the Market ask the produce clerk for a tasty sample, and try our Eat Good Food English Pea and Green Garlic Dip recipe to savor the flavor of spring:

English Pea and Green Garlic Dip
Eat Good Food page 118
Serve with crostini or fresh spring veggies as a dip, or spread it on sandwiches.

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oilIMG_6015
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
1 cup chopped green garlic (2 stalks)
3/4 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 1/2 cups English Peas
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
6 large mint leaves, coarsley chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, a pinch of salt, and a grind or two of black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the green garlic and thyme and cook until the garlic is wilted and fragrant, another 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool. Bring a small pan of well-salted water to a boil. Add the peas and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.

Put the peas in the bowl of a food processor along with the onion mixture, pecorino, lemon juice, mint and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse a few times to blend, and with the motor running, pour in the remaining 1/3 cup oil, blending just until combined. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice as needed.


Simon

Strawberry Sensation

DSC_8332Throughout the month of March it was pretty exciting to see the rainy weather continue, though the rain didn’t bring complete joy to the local farmers and those of us who love local berry crops.  The strawberry fields took a hard hit from the rough weather – most of the fruit on the plants were damaged and the flowers knocked off.  Strawberry plants like to drink their fair share of water, but most of the growers use drip tape and get the water directly to the root systems. Now that this beautiful weather is upon us, April is setting up to be a sensational local strawberry month!

There is an abundance of strawberries in almost any grocery store you walk into this time of year, so what makes the strawberries at Bi-Rite Markets so special? The answer is simple: the farmers who grow them. We are fortunate to work closely with about 12 different local farms that will be harvesting extra sweet, juicy strawberries from April until October – the types of strawberries you usually find only at farmers’ markets and restaurants. Most of the strawberries that are sold at supermarket chains are harvested before they peak in flavor so that they are sturdier and can travel long distances, but farms like Tomatero Organic Farm and Live Earth Farm in Watsonville harvest their berries when the fruit has its most delicate texture, offering the ultimate sweetness.  It’s true that perfectly ripe berries might have the tendency to breakdown quicker than under-ripe berries, but these strawberries are delivered to Bi-Rite within 24 hrs of harvest so our guests can get them home in the looking – and tasting – beautiful.

The most common strawberry grown in California is the Albion variety; commercial growers love them because the plants produce large, firm fruit and when harvested a bit early they still have the high sugar content. Bluehouse Farm in Pescadero also grows Albion strawberries, but the combination of the perfect coastal climate, healthy, rich soil, and farmers that touch their plants every day leads to extra sweet flavor and a big juicy berry that melts in your mouth.  One of the benefits of working with a bunch of different growers in the Bay Area is that it allows us get a fresh delivery almost every day of the week and to taste how the same variety of strawberries grown in diverse climates and soil can differ slightly in texture and flavor.strawberry_coroplasts_webSwanton Berry Farm, located in Davenport, is a leader in workers’ rights; Swanton started growing organic strawberries in 1987 and has been growing high quality strawberries ever since. One of the things that makes Swanton unique is that they mainly grow the Chandler variety, an exceptionally flavored berry with a delicate and soft texture, not typically seen on the commercial market because they are so delicate. Most of the farmers we work with have a specialty variety or two that they bring us so that we treat our guests.  Oak Hill Farm in Sonoma grows everyone’s favorites, the Mara De Bois Strawberry.  This variety is small and tantalizing with a bright sweet flavor that seems to change from one berry to the next.  This berry usually doesn’t hit the Bi-Rite shelves until mid-summer.

BalsamicStrawberryAnd don’t forget the Creamery! Every year we eagerly await strawberries to come into season so that the Creamery can begin its  production of Balsamic Strawberry ice cream. We only make this flavor when strawberries are in full season and coming to us from our local growers such as Swanton Berry Farm and Live Earth Farms. We roast our strawberries at a low temperature with sugar and organic balsamic vinegar to reduce the water content and to intensify the flavor of the berries. We then add the berries to our organic ice cream base and turn it into this eagerly anticipated flavor. Balsamic Strawberry pairs perfectly with Ricanelas, Basil or Chocolate – look for Balsamic Strawberry returning around April 15! It may just be the beginning of local strawberry season but the flavors are already sensational! Stop by the Markets to taste the freshest, highest-quality strawberries of the season.


Jason Rose

New Red Table Meat, Sliced to Order

Slicing cured meats is an art form that takes practice and great attention to detail.  Each piece of meat is different – some are cured longer and are drier and easier to slice, while others are softer and take a little more finesse.  At Bi-Rite, our skilled butchers and deli servers have extensive training and education about our entire charcuterie selection and the best slicing practice for each product.

Abrams_RedTableMeatCo-0077We encourage guests to sample our charcuterie and taste the difference for themselves – we want our guests to feel confident about the charcuterie they’re selecting, and know that not only does it taste fantastic, but it meets our responsible production standards. We hold our charcuterie producers to the same standards to which we hold our ranchers: the meat is pasture-raised, humanely-treated, and sustainably-harvested. We emphasize transparency at every step of the supply chain, from the farm to the curing room to our Markets.

We met our newest charcuterie producers, Red Table Meat Co., at this year’s Good Food Awards where they were celebrating a triple victory. The Good Food Awards recognize American craft producers in 13 categories for food that not only tastes fantastic but is responsibly produced.  As the premiere sponsor of the Good Food Awards, our sourcing criteria are deeply aligned with their awards criteria for both taste and sustainability.

Speck+2Red Table Meat Co.’s charcuterie is made from pasture-raised, heritage hogs sourced from six local farms in Minnesota.  We’re pleased to welcome three of Red Table Meat’s salumis to our charcuterie assortment, sliced-to-order from our Delis:

  • Big Chet’s: A Good Food Award-winning finocchiona-style salami, seasoned with black pepper, red pepper, fennel, garlic, and white wine, aged 3 months ($37 / lb).
  • Coppa: A Good Food Award-winning dry-cured pork shoulder, seasoned with coriander, juniper, crushed red pepper, and black pepper, aged 3 months ($35 / lb).
  • Speck: A dry-cured, smoked ham, seasoned with bay leaf, rosemary, allspice, juniper, and coriander, aged 6 months ($45 / lb).

Be sure to ask for a taste of Red Table Meat Co. and our other charcuterie offerings next time you stop by the Delis, also available for online order for convenient delivery through Instacart.


Shakirah

Help us end food waste! Support AB2725

IMG_5874Today, Bi-Rite Divisadero hosted Assemblymember David Chiu as he announced new legislation, AB2725, aimed at reducing food waste by creating statewide guidelines for food date labels that relate directly to freshness and safety.

Chiu was joined by members of Californians Against Waste, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and our founder, Sam Mogannam, to describe the confusing state of date labels today (various forms include “sell by,” “use by,” “best before,” and “enjoy by”), none of which are federally regulated.

Sam described the importance of this legislation to fight food waste, stating, “Creating community through food means not wasting it, which is at the core of our company values and daily operations. Grocers have a tremendous social responsibility to reduce food waste due to the sheer amount of food that moves through our businesses. We are the direct connection to two ends of the food waste spectrum – producers and consumers. Food manufacturers and retailers cannot afford to waste food; treating food waste as the cost of doing business will cost you your business.”

At Bi-Rite, less than 1% of the food we purchase is wasted, and 40% of the product in our Markets is house-made and accurately date labeled.

BiRiteFoodWasteFactSheet_AB2725

“In a state where 6 million families are food insecure, a startling amount of food is being wasted every single day because of these arbitrary date labels,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “We as consumers want to know what our labels mean and whether or not our food is safe to eat. This bill will clean up these confusing dates and reduce unnecessary food waste.”

Read more about food waste and Assemblymember Chiu’s legislation from the SF Chronicle, or stop by the Markets and ask what you can do to help fight food waste.


Waverley

Fill Your Easter Basket with Good Food

Fill your Easter basket with Good Food! The Bi-Rite Family has prepared an Easter feast perfect for an al fresco brunch or a pull-out-all-the-stops Sunday dinner. With traditional lamb roasts from our butchers, beautiful local produce from our farmers, light and refreshing house-made dishes from our chefs, and desserts from Bi-Rite Creamery that range from the traditional to the simply seasonal, we’re here to help you craft the perfect Easter meal for your family and friends.

From our Butchers

SpringLambOur butchers are bringing you some of the highest quality, sustainably-raised and harvested products for your Easter table, including the limited availability Don Watson Milk-Fed Spring Lamb (starting at $12.99/lb), with exceptionally tender texture and incredibly mild flavor. Our butchers are receiving whole lambs and butchering to order, so be sure to pre-order your preferred cuts today! A fantastic option for those seeking a twist on tradition, our Butcher’s Cut Spring Lamb Roast Recipe is sure to be a showstopper for your guests.

For those looking for classic lamb flavors and the larger-size leg, we’re pleased to offer BN Ranch Pasture-Raised, Grass-Fed Lamb (starting at $9.99/lb) from the Sacramento Delta, also available for convenient delivery from our online Market. Read more about what makes these lamb programs so special on our blog. If lamb isn’t your jam, we’re also featuring a selection of hams from Rancho Llano Seco, Niman Ranch, and Fra’Mani, also available from our online Market.

From our Chefs

Our chefs have prepared a beautiful house-made menu for your Easter celebrations, showcasing refreshing spring flavors like Grilled Local Artichokes with White Beans & Hikari Farms Greens ($13.99/lb) and Grilled Wild Alaskan Coho Salmon with Lemony Spring Pea Hummus & Shaved Radish ($11.99/ea). Perfect for brunch in the park or a fine Easter dinner, our house-made Easter menu will be available in the Markets and on Instacart March 25 through March 27.  If you’d like to pre-order your Easter feast, just give us a call, click here to view the menu!

From our Creamery & Bakeshop

FINALHotCrossandTeaThe Creamery is featuring some beautiful spring desserts for Easter, including the traditional Hot Cross Buns: sweet, yeasted buns baked with lemon, orange, and golden raising, topped with vanilla buttercream ($7.99/4-pack).  Venture beyond the classics with our Lemon Chiffon Cake with Citrus Glaze ($9.99/ea) or our Citrus Yogurt Panna Cotta, a Greek yogurt panna cotta with a layer of caramel, topped with candied kumquats ($5.99/ea). All Creamery & Bakeshop desserts will be available with the Easter menu, in the Markets and on Instacart. Visit the Creamery or Scoop Shop for our seasonal sundae, the Easter Bonnet featuring our seasonal Meyer Lemon ice cream with gingersnap cookie pieces, caramel sauce and whipped cream (available now until Easter Sunday).

From our Grocery team

FINALColombaChocolate bunnies abound! Our Grocery team has selected some of their favorite Easter treats to fill your baskets, like the Poco Dolce Olive Oil Rabbit ($12.99) and the Chocolat Moderne Brown Speckled Egg ($12.99), as beautiful as they are delicious. Don’t forget the Fiasconaro Colomba di Pasqua ($24.99)! Like Christmas panettone, this leavened cake is fashioned into the shape of a dove and filled with fresh candied orange, topped with Avola almond icing – extremely limited, it makes for a very special Easter dessert.  Plus, it wouldn’t be Easter without egg dying: we have a fantastic selection of pasture-raised eggs in both Markets and Color Kitchen’s Natural Egg Coloring Kit ($11.99) to dye them with!

From our Floral team

large_9acaf726-f303-4a6e-9f4c-f3c30b79f4acSpring is the season for local, farm direct, organic flowers from some of our favorite farmers like Full Belly Farm, Fifth Crow Farm, and Front Porch Farm. Just in time for Easter, Full Belly Farm is bringing back their gorgeous mixed farm bouquets. Look our for organic Ranunculus and Poppies from Front Porch Farm too.  Or, let our floral team create a unique bouquet for your Easter Sunday – we are featuring our Bi-Rite Mixed Bouquet ($24.99) plus our florists will be in front of the Markets 9am-6pm March 26 and 27, making floral happiness one bouquet at a time.

From our Wine & Cheese teams

Round out your Easter meal with the lovely Raventos Blanc de Nit Rose Cava ($24.99), perfect for brunch or dinner.  Pair it with a simple cheese selection, great for spring salads or as a light cheese course, including Marin French Petite Breakfast ($5.99) and Andante Dairy Fresh Chevre ($7.99).

Easter16_web2

Whatever your Easter needs, we’re here to help you create a memorable meal for your family and friends. Short on time? Shop online! Our online Easter aisle allows you to build your Easter meal and have it delivered to your door!


Chili

Think Spring Lamb

Spring is a time of rebirth, renewal, and refreshment. The flavors of spring are a vibrant reminder of the harvests to come and the reward for a long winter’s wait.  In California, spring is very special to our Butcher Department as the harbinger of one of our favorite products, spring lamb.  This year in particularly, El Nino rains have given way to lush grasses, meaning the lambs will be at their tastiest – this is the season to think spring lamb!

If you celebrate spring holidays like Easter or Passover with lamb as your centerpiece, or you enjoy eating with the seasons, now is the peak season for the highest quality, best tasting lamb available:

SacDeltaBNRanchLambFor the traditionalists, our BN Ranch Pasture-Raised, Grass-Fed Lamb have the bolder, fuller flavor and larger legs typically associated with lamb.  Raised by a fourth generation sheep herder, John Cubiburu, in the Sacramento Delta, the BN Ranch lambs are weaned then graze on pasture in order to reach their larger weight.  These special lambs will be available in the Markets and on Instacart where you can order from our online Market for convenient delivery.

watson2For those seeking something excitingly off-beat and extremely limited, we are thrilled to announce that Don Watson Milk-Fed Spring Lamb is now available at our butcher counters. Born in the winter and harvested right before they’re weaned, Don Watson’s lambs are much smaller than your typical lambs, with an incredibly mild flavor and tender texture.  Don Watson’s Milk-Fed Spring Lambs grace the tables of restaurants like Chez Panisse and The French Laundry, and due their limited availability (typically only for the four weeks of April), are available for pre-order at the Markets.  These lambs arrive whole, and our butchers will be cutting to order for you. Fun fact:  Don Watson’s Napa Valley-based herd lives on the grounds of the Infineon Raceway, and from there are hired by many neighboring wineries to help keep their vineyards free of weeds without doing the damage to the terroir that mechanical weeders would do!

SpringLambSideIf you’re considering a lamb roast for beautiful spring meals, our butchers are turning tradition on its head with their Spring Lamb Roast recipe. Using the butcher’s cut front leg of Don Watson’s Milk-Fed Spring Lamb achieves an incredibly tender, mildly-flavored roast that pairs perfectly with an array of spring side dishes, from asparagus salads to artichokes to strawberry desserts and spring Rosés.

So whether you prefer the longstanding tradition of exceptional quality BN Ranch Pasture-Raised, Grass-Fed Lamb, or are looking to elevate your spring celebrations with a rare twist on the classic with Don Watson Milk-Fed Spring Lamb, now is the time to think spring lamb and enjoy it at its seasonal best.


Jason Rose

New Bi-Rite Sushi Bowls are here!

Sushi-Sticker-04Our House-Made Sushi line is expanding to include even more on-the-go meal options, made with the same locally-grown, great tasting produce with ethically-raised and harvested meats and seafood you know and trust. Founder Sam Mogannam and Culinary Director Jason Rose recently returned from a visit to Tokyo, Osaka, Sakai City, and Nara, Japan, and brought back with them techniques, preparations, and flavor inspirations that will be infusing our kitchens across the Family of Businesses.

FINALThreeBowls

Our three new sushi bowls begin with Lundberg Family Farms Organic California Sushi Rice seasoned lightly with togarashi and rice wine vinegar, topped with certified organic,  non-GMO edamame, pickled ginger from The Ginger People, green onions, and pickled carrot, and your choice of Miso-Braised Hodo Soy Tofu ($11.99), Teriyaki Chicken ($12.99), or Seared Ahi Tuna ($14.99). In addition, we’re offering a palate-cleansing Sunomono Salad ($6.99) featuring local Hikari Farms Japanese cucumbers and wakame with soy, mirin, and sesame.

Sushi bowls for dinner? Pair them perfectly with Sequoia Sake! Locally produced in San Francisco using the ancient art of Japanese sake making combined with Bay Area yeasts and California rice has created a new tradition of rich, new American micro-sake.

 


Shakirah

Celebrating Women in Food: Layla of Bi-Rite Farms

We’re celebrating women in food this March for women’s history month. Woman-operated farms more than doubled between 1982 and 2007. According to the USDA, about 14% of farms in the U.S. are run by women today, and women make up 30% of all U.S. farmers.

At Bi-Rite, we support a diverse community of farmers and farm workers, including our very own farmer, Layla Aguilar! Read on to learn more about Layla’s life on the farm, how she got her start, and her fav veggies.

LaylaWhat is your role at Bi-Rite Farm? What does a normal day look like?
My day can look a number of different ways! It ranges from being out in the fields from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM in the summer, to pouring over seed catalogues and meeting with other farmers for info-sharing in the winter months. Out on the field, my tasks include seeding, weeding, harvesting, and irrigation. From June through November, I come down to San Francisco twice a week to drop off produce at the Markets.  For the past five seasons, we’ve been on one acre; this year we are expanding to three acres. This year, we’ll plant summer cover crops, perennials, hops, berries, herbs, flowers, and cucurbits such as squash, melons, and cucumbers that can roam free.

How did you get interested in food and farming? What set you on this path?
I’ve always had an interest in food. Post-college, I started working in a farm educational program for youth. After that experience, I realized I didn’t want to just teach, I wanted to learn more in-depth farm methods for food production. I enrolled in the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems program at UC Santa Cruz (CASFS). After graduation, I worked on different production and educational farms, and explored in farm marketing and sales. I started at Bi-Rite in July of 2013. It was the first time I was hired in a full vegetable production capacity.

What advice would you give to other women interested in a career in sustainable food and farming?
I’ve attended the Ecological Farming Conference every year since 2007; I have a strong community of farmers I can call on. Most of them have also completed the CASFS program. This network is super important to me. It’s especially nice to build a community of farmers close by during the winter months. It can get a little depressing when you can’t go outside – I love meeting up with a fellow farmer for a coffee and some crop planning!

BiRiteFarm_EdibleMagWhat are some of the challenges you and other farmers are currently facing, in the Bay Area (or further afield)?
Well, the big one is of course, the drought. Despite all the talk of El Nino, I’m super skeptical and distraught because I’m not sure the rains will be enough. We cannot make water, we are stuck with what we have. I can stress the plants some, but ultimately the lack of water compromises the plants’ quality and quantity. Last year I really pushed the envelope, and we felt the sting with a decrease in production. So for me, a big challenge is getting the job done well, while also being a good steward of the earth. Some specific challenges on the Bi-Rite Farm are heavy soils and salty water (we’re located close to the bay!). However, I’m learning more and more each season about how to care for the land. I’m constantly trying to educate myself and learn from the mistakes that we make.

What is your favorite vegetable?
To grow: Dry beans.

To eat: Cucumbers and peppers. They are so fun to snap right off the vine and munch on – they don’t need anything more! I also love hot peppers….I’m kind of obsessed.

How can the Bi-Rite community get involved in the farm this season? Harvest days?
We’ve organized, and would like to continue to organize, farm visits, especially for the kitchen and produce departments. Sam would say that the ultimate goal of the farm is to educate staff. The more I can get people out there, the more I am doing my job. I have a background in farm education; I love showing large groups around the farm and coming up with on-farm tasks like planting and weeding.

We host Farm School with 18 Reasons, a ten session summer course where participants visit the farm on Saturdays to learn about small scale farming. I love working with the Farm School students because sometimes they have a lot of interest but very little experience. We have to start from the very beginning – like how to hold a tool!

Read more about Bi-Rite Farm from Edible Marin & Wine Country!