|This summer has brought us closer to where our food comes from than ever before. I’m so grateful for the hard work of all our staff and the passion of our committed producers who have brought us under their wings, inspiring and teaching us about the food we sell in the Market.
Our produce buyer and farmer, Simon Richard, has been keeping busy on our Sonoma Farms and as a result we have hired another farmer, Riley Nowicki, to help us manage the day to day operations. We recently built a chicken coop, added 30 hens and a lone rooster for good measure, and can’t wait for them to start laying eggs next month! We have 3 breeds of chickens: Rhode Island Reds, Australorps, and Barred Rocks. The 10 dozen or so eggs they will lay each week won’t be enough to sell as refrigerated eggs, but look for them in our prepared foods as a garnish on salads, in sandwiches or just simply boiled for a quick, nutritious snack. We are excited to have the opportunity to better understand egg production and gain a greater appreciation for all the hard work our ranchers do in providing us with amazing pastured eggs.
This summer, our farm operation grew to 1-1/2 acres; the original half-acre that we have been farming for the past 3 years, plus an additional acre we rented about 5 miles south behind the Fremont Diner (killer grub if you haven’t tried it yet). The new acre is part of Circle JR Ranch, six acres owned by Richard and Joanne Andreotti. The other five acres have been pasture for our first two cows, a partnership we developed with Rich to naturally maintain growth of his wild grasses and an opportunity to be part of raising our own cows and seeing them all the way to your plate. Chili, our head butcher, has been beaming with excitement. This is his first opportunity to work with and sell meat from livestock that we had a hand in raising. Rich has been super-supportive and really excited to see his parcel being used for something so productive.
We’ll also be making burgers from the two black angus, 100% grass fed and finished steer for this Saturday’s 18 Reasons Barn Dance Barbeque and Fundraiser (tickets still available!), which will take place on the same land they were raised on! Once the barn dance is over, three more cows will be raised on the land so we can continue learning about this process.
That same land has also been host site for a dozen students in the 18 Reasons Farm Summer School. During the past few months, they have planted, tended, and learned all about the eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, and beans in the ground next door to the grazing land. Talk about getting to know where your food comes from! We have already started harvesting and using these veggies in our summer menu at the deli. Our tomatoes should be popping soon and with that harvest we plan to can our roasted tomato sauce again and to keep you all supplied with Sergio’s delicious gazpacho.
As an added treat, here is the recipe for Sergio’s Famous Gazpacho that will be our deli mainstay over the next couple of months. This is one of the 90 recipes in Eat Good Food, the book Dabney and I wrote that comes out October 18th. You can see a copy of the book at the cashier counter. Just ask!
Rich has also been gracious enough to let us put beehives on the property as well. Two are already in and two more will be coming in the next week or so. Spencer Marshall, of Marshall’s Honey fame, will be tending those hives in addition to the hives he has managed on our other plot. Spencer is really excited and says that area produces some of the most exquisite honey he has ever had. We will have three sets of hives now, and plan to harvest the original two (one of which is on our market’s rooftop) in the next couple of weeks, so look for it on our shelves soon.
Finally, Anthea and our cheese team have developed a relationship with cheesemaker Marcia Barinaga of Barinaga Ranch who graciously allowed us to buy an entire day’s make (21 wheels) of her limited production farmstead ewe’s milk cheese, Baserri. We’ll open two wheels each month (until that last precious month where we’ll only have one!) to taste as the cheese ages and evolves, savoring all of the changes along the way.
Hope to see you at the Barn Dance on Saturday, so we can celebrate on our Sonoma Farm together!