Sunday, November 15, 2009

Benefits to Community

The honest truth is that I have not actually worked for the farm in some time. I pulled out of the Ferry Plaza scene in spring when Kara joined the crew and left the farm stand sales position back in the middle of summer, making room for the cheery and organized presence of Kim. The personal story behind this is that I take on other types of environmental projects that distract me from a regular schedule and hence lose my weekly positions as a result. It is no good for reliability which is pretty nice to have in farm help.

As a result, I have traveled a bit this season and farm and market tours are always on the back-burner, or forefront, of my priorities. I have visited regions including San Luis Obispo, Idaho Falls, Boise, Eastern Sierra/Mono Lake Region, the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs, the Palo Verde Valley and Colorado River/Salton Sea areas...making several trips through the north-south highway corridors that pass through our Great Central Valley of production, the coastal 101 corridors of lettuces and strawberries galore.

What is this relevance in relation to Tierra Vegetables, your local and your-round farm resource? My perspective to each of these new regions seems to always relate back to Tierra as a benchmark. I always find myself sharing with other farmers and growers what is being done back home at this wonderful farm I work with, relating their success as potential avenues other growers might take to diversify or troubleshoot challenges. My heart remains with Lee, Wayne and Evie as I respect and share their work at any opportunity.

Tierra has worked so hard year after year to create a system that includes diversity in products and markets. All year you are able to visit your local farm for you food, you can always go and see it in all stages of production, you can talk with your farmers, you can bring your kids and take a walk and learn and talk about whatever there is to learn (always something). The semi-urban location of the farm is a huge benefit. It offers convenience to the community and opportunity to interact with most all aspects of the farm, even as a consumer.

Many CSA farms must be contacted for an opportunity to visit. It is not so easy to simply stop in and watch as the season moves on, carrots get bigger and strawberries go through their ups and downs with the eather. A box of vegetables dropped on a local porch is a great way to get food (especially compared with a grocery store selection) and a service Tierra does offer, but there is no comparison for the experience of coming to the farm, choosing what size or shape or color veggies you want to take home that week, and experiencing what the local food system has to offer.

I could rattle on and on over these topics, but the underlying theme of this post is simply that after all my travels this season and making comparisons with environments, marketing systems, production and products, it is my opinion that you customers of Tierra Vegetables have a really good thing. And I just can't help myself from sharing that because I have a forum to do so.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Random Photo Inspiration

This farm inspires not only ideas in the kitchen, but in creative projects for children and adults alike. I think this veg-Barbie was constructed by Lee and a young woman named Paige who has spent a lot of time with the farm as a friend and neighbor. I wanted to take a moment to share the just ought to be enjoyed. See if you can identify the source of all the bodily components and accessories.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sangre De Toro

Origin: Bull's Blood is the literal translation of this bean's title. This bean's tradition is traced to the South American region. The Tierra Vegetable seed stock is said to have come from Peru, according to the San Francisco customer who passed a small handful of beans on to Lee a few years ago.

Cooking: This is a large, long and deep red bean. Sangre de Toro is certain to make a robust red bean base for salads, soups, chilis, etc... According to Rancho Gordo (who also grows this bean), the bean liquid (also called pot liquor) that is produced a a result of cooking this bean is prized by those in Mexico and elsewhere who treasure this bean as a part of their culinary heritage.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Alubias De Tolosa

**Disregard the "Italian" on the sign in the photo above, Evie and I have since tracked this bean to it's Spanish Basque origin...

Origin: Name meaning beans of Tolosa, this bean is highly prized in Basque Country and has been grown and sold in local markets since ancient times. Tolosa is a town and municipality to the south of San Sebastian in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, Spain. This bean became a part of the Tierra Vegetables seed stock following a visit to the Terra Madre Slow Food International event when it was brought home by your farmers to test out in our local Sonoma County growing climate and has since been deemed a success!

Cooking: One serving suggestion according to Basque tradition includes slowly cooking in an earthenware pot with garlic and olive oil (I'm sure this could be done in a pot that is not earthenware too). This dish is then usually served with cabbage (Tierra grows fantastic cabbages!). Other ingredients often paired with these beans include spicy green peppers and pork ribs.

The beans of Tolosa are well known and the city of Tolosa holds a bean cook off each year. Enjoy experimenting with this bean in Basque tradition or by innovating something entirely New World and modern with the beautiful, shiny black bean.

Photo of Afore-mentioned Tiger's Eye

I was going to leave you hanging to come and see the bean for yourself, but I did snap a good shot of it the other day and may as well share. The beans have not yet been cleaned, but have been brought out for their premier showcase this week....come check it out! There are so many kinds to try it is never too soon to start in on it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tiger's Eye Bean

ORIGIN: This beautifully decorative bean is said to have originated in either Chile or Argentina. It has been given it's name due to the colors and markings that cannot be overlooked and resemble a tiger's eye.

COOKING: A smooth texture and tender skins make this bean a great ingredient for making chilis or refried beans. It has also been recommended to be used like a Pinto bean or as the foundation of a cassoulet. The physical character of this bean make it worth experimenting with all around to show it off in your favorite bean recipes. It is new to the Tierra collection and we look forward to hearing your serving suggestions so they may be passed on to others looking for great ideas.

One final suggestion is to fill a glass jar full and put it on display for all to sure to have a few prepared for eating too though, your admirers will wonder how the admirable legume tastes too. This bean will make a perfect addition to the menu during the holidays or during the depths of the winter months wen you are seeking some color and diversity.

Get ready to enjoy all kinds of beans, vintage 2009 is on it's way!

**I know a photo might be nice here, but why not come in to the farm stand or the Ferry Plaza market and find out what it looks like on your own. It could be a bit early to find them yet, but soon.