Season’s Eatings

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Season’s Eatings!

The following is an article we have submitted to the Sonoma Sun, a great local newspaper, to highlight the current bounty found at our local farmers market:

An autumn afternoon at Paul’s Produce

As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, the end of the growing season for Sonoma Valley farms is upon us.  The Winter Solstice is a time when nature retreats and humanity celebrates.  With the heady abundant days of summer long past, local farms are near the end of what has been a solid growing season.  A visit to Paul’s Produce just off Arnold Drive for a visual reconnaissance revealed the dirt on what’s coming to market for the holidays.

As usual, my inspection yielded exceptionally tidy rows of vegetables, in all shades of green mixed with reds from lettuces and chicory, a reminder of Paul’s skill in growing and managing his crops.  There were signs of recently harvested fennel bulbs, with only the outer skins remaining discarded along the bed.  There were long rows of brassica’s – broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kales – some of which were in the process of harvest, while others, due to successive plantings, were laying in wait for future harvest.  I felt a sense of security, as a resident of the Valley, in knowing there was food growing in my neighborhood, and lots of it! 

My trip to the Friday Farmers market led to a reunion with Paul’s crops, now harvested and laid out on tables that seemed to go on forever.  Going down the line we had lettuce mix, radicchio, arugula, pea shoots.  There were the brassicas, next to the last peppers of the season, root vegetables a-plenty, including Paul’s famous carrots.  German butterball potatoes, leeks, onions, and winter squash – a true bounty and resource for the home chef.  And that was just one booth at the market!

Across the way, the Patch had another impressive spread, highlighted by large tables of purple and yellow cauliflower, large heads of lettuce, beets, squash, beautiful bunches of multi-colored radish, and, incredibly, tomatoes!  Owner Lazaro Calderon admitted “This is my last week, I’m going to till in everything before the rain”.  He sounded relieved to take a break from the vegetable treadmill that he had been on for 9 months strait.  While the Patch will be missed, the slack is taken up by Oak Hill Farm, with their aesthetically pleasing booth, decorated with cut flowers and greens, holiday wreaths, and excellent produce, including: Romanesco cauliflower, turnips, little gem lettuce, Yukon gold potatoes, persimmons, garlic and whole brussels sprout stems.

Loaded to bear with vegetables, I moved to fruit, picking up great mandarins from Gertz farm.  “I’ll be here every week” assured orchardist Chris Gertz, “Citrus is coming on strong” pointing to navel oranges, pink grapefruit and Meyer lemons.  More citrus was to be had at Rhodes farm across the way, as well as Asian pears, apples, persimmons, and late harvest Crimson table grapes from the Central Valley.  I stopped for the micro-greens from Sweetwater Spectrum, some carrots from Ortiz farm, who had impressive holiday wreaths, mushrooms from Sammy’s Bohemian Farm from Occidental, and, of course, bread from Mike the Bejkr, who has a variety of seasonal breads and baked goods, cookies, scones, and incredible kabocha squash chocolate cookies.  With so many more booths to go, selling local meats, eggs, dairy, teas and coffee, fermented foods, I realized two things – how lucky we are to have high quality foods available directly from the producers, and…  that I had to go back to the ATM.  Friday’s farmers market is truly a one stop-shop!

Halloween y la Dia De Los Muertos Sunday October 24th 10:00am – 2:00pm at the Springs Garden at Larson Park

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A Community cross-cultural event celebrating the Fall season.
Pop-up pumpkin patch – local vegetable giveaway
creative activities with Art Escape – altar building

Find out more at Springsgarden.org

Farmers Friend – a local food win-win

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When the Farmers Friend program was envisioned nearly a year ago, the idea was to connect local farms with local food distributions. This idea was put into practice with the partnership with Food For All/Comida Para Todos, and after 16 or so distributions and almost 15,000 lbs , much of that from local farms, the idea became reality.

Thank You Pauls’ Produce, Oak Hill Farm, Whole

Foods, Cannard Farm, Gertz Farm and Two Moon

Family Farm!!

Growing in the Springs – Agua Caliente Firehouse renovation!

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Some time back, when we were meeting in public, folks at a Springs Municipal Advisory Committee were proposing ideas for Springs improvement projects. More pocket parks, and a formal plaza conveying a sense of place were some of the big project visions. The Springs plaza has long been proposed for the area north of the Post Office building, where the Springs farmers market was hosted.

Springs resident Janice Folzman, who had spearheading beautification projects in the area, proposed smaller projects that would beautify an small space, a private or public landscape, and support for local businesses and Highway 12 residents in improving their properties. A few volunteers present, including myself, agreed to meet and discuss potential projects. The Agua Caliente Fire Station (Sonoma Valley Fire Station #3) was chosen as a great visible, gateway project which could also serve to demonstrate firewise landscaping and honor our FIrst Responders at the same time. The Fire Department liked the idea and we planned our design.

On a recent Saturday, Springs Hall volunteers, Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley, and Sonoma Valley Wholesale Nursery staff and owner Paul Martinez met up to install the second phase of the project.

Future additions call for artistic and sculptural features which highlight the importance of this property and its brave workers in keeping our communities safe.

Farmer’s Friend

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As we have been reporting, the Farmer’s Friend program has been focused on supporting essential food distributions by connecting local farmers with those in need. Our local, organic produce is often less available to many in our community, due to cost, access, and education on the value of these products.

Our work with Food For All/Comida Para Todos has been very gratifying, particularly given the support that program has shown the Springs Hall’s efforts, but also from the positive response and generosity of our farmers as well as great community volunteers that make this happen. We will be expanding the program to work in conjunction with our efforts to support and promote local agriculture. To find out more or for ways to participate, contact us at: sonomaspringshall@gmail.com

Farmers Friend, update!

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Ask and ye shall recieve!

We have found that, just by “doing the work”, you will find new opportunities. Thank you to all that have supported this program, including Pauls Produce, Oak Hill Farm, Cannard Farm, Sonoma Garden Park, Food For All, Whole Foods market and community members. The recent distribution was amazing with murdoch cabbage, leeks, sweet and russet potato, baby turnips with greens, carrots, apples, and great community gleaned citrus brought in by Shannon Erickson Lee.

Farmer’s Friend – Funding local food access.

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The Farmer’s Friend program was born out or crisis. The Springs Hall, partnering with local farms, gleaned and distributed over 4000 pounds of local produce to those most in need in partnership with Food For All.

The opportunity to support this effort is here. Please consider a donation so that our farmers can be supported for their admirable work in supporting our amazing Sonoma Valley!

All donations will go to LOCAL farms to provide the best quality produce to households in need.

Checks can be sent to: PO Box 1897 Boyes Hot Springs, CA 95416

Sonoma Overnight Support feeding the Valley!

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Sonoma Overnight Support (SOS) has been operating an essential food distribution kitchen at the Springs Hall since July. The current health and economic crisis has exacerbated difficulties for the homeless population in addition to the struggles facing many at this time. Providing hot meals Monday through Friday out of the Hall’s Rotary Kitchen, this action has allowed the Hall building to remain in community service.

To support SOS and this amazing program, please go to their website at: http://www.sonomaovernightsupport.org

Food For All / Comida Para Todos!

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The Springs Hall has been working with the amazing local support service Food For All / Comida Para Todos, to coordinate collection and distribution with local farms for excess local, organic produce.  Tomatoes were gleaned from Oak Hill Farm, which also gave another generous donation of lemon cucumbers, jalapenos, and apples.  Paul’s Produce added a huge amount of peppers, little gem lettuces, and more.  The Sonoma Garden Park contributed great heirloom apples.  Flowery school garden provided cherry tomatoes, tomatillos and more.

The end result was 110 packages of local organic produce to be added to the large bags of essential that the amazing volunteers for Food For All put together.  This includes staple items – beans, flour, masa – as well as household and safety essentials – soap, bleach, sanitizer, facemasks, hygenic items diapers and more.

If you are interested in supporting this effort or helping with the gleaning and produce distribution the Hall is organizing for this project, contact us at sonomaspringshall@gmail.com

If you would like to volunteer or support with Food For All contact: sfrfund@gmail.com

Find out more at https://sonomaspringsrelieffund.org/