7th Annual Home and Hearth Holiday Fair
By Kirsten Fairchilds – Katy Thompson knows full well that necessity is indeed the mother of invention. During a bout with insomnia, Thompson unsuccessfully searched for a product that was unadulterated, affordable and made from ingredients that would not have an adverse effect on the environment.
So, the certified herbalist went to work and designed Dream Balm, which she will have on hand at the Aptos market beginning November 23.
The owner of Copper Moon Apothecary in Watsonville, Thompson returns to the market as one of the Santa Cruz County-based artisans and vendors taking part in the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Market’s Seventh Annual Home and Hearth Holiday Fair.
Held near the prepared food section, the holiday fair will take place from 8 a.m. until noon and run for five Saturdays, concluding on December 17.
MBCFM’s executive director Catherine Barr shared that the Aptos market will host the Home and Hearth Fair once again because of popular demand.
“The Home and Hearth Fair features a number of our customers’ favorite local artisans and vendors,” Barr said. “Both longtime customers and newcomers alike can come pick out that special gift for their special someone all while shopping at the farmers market.”
This year will mark the third holiday event for Thompson, who recently relocated her business from Ben Lomond to Watsonville.
“The Home and Hearth Holiday Fair is just a really fun event,” said Thompson, taking a break from harvesting calendula on her nine-acre property on a recent afternoon. “I get the most amazing response from the local community, and the way people resonate with a local product just makes me feel good.
“All of the other artists who participate in the fair really help each other out and support each other,” she continued. “It’s like a family, and to have an opportunity to all be together in our backyard at the Aptos market is so great.”
Other artists and vendors joining Copper Moon Apothecary this year include Dharma Love, Jay Topping Signs, Jenny Wren Designs, Second Street Café and Trellis and Vine. [Learn more about each of them below.]
Specializing in herbal remedies and skincare products made from sustainable, ecologically harvested herbs and botanicals, Copper Moon Apothecary will be selling basic stocking stuffers to more unique soap and lotion gift sets that will range in price from $5 to $20.
Thompson shared that she expects her Dream Balm to be a top-selling item at $10.
“Dream Balm is a two-ounce tin of a salve that is infused with all that is soothing — it has hops, passionflower, skullcap and rose,” Thompson said. “It’s not only for insomnia, but stress and road rage.
“Nearly everything I make is from necessity,” she continued. “I want to use clean, honest products that are affordable and locally made, and that’s what I make.”
Copper Moon Apothecary
Certified herbalist Katy Thompson of Copper Moon Apothecary formulates healing lotions, potions, skincare products and bar soap using organic herbs, grown at the Copper Moon Ranch in Watsonville. Her rich emollient oils and butters are fair trade, organic, unrefined and sustainably harvested.
Socially conscious and sustainable clothing and accessories are the canvas on which this painter, photographer and printmaker displays her original artwork. The art is manually printed with a professional heat press onto the fabrics, which include certified organic cotton, hemp and socially accountable cotton products. A green business using non-toxic, water-based inks, hang tags made out of post-consumer-recycled paper and packaging made out of recyclable soda pop bottles, Dharma Love strives to be a zero-impact company by recycling all materials and promoting good business practices.
Jay Topping Signs
An artist and sign-maker based in Scotts Valley, Jay Topping incorporates a broad range of different mediums in his signs and artwork, ranging from working in acrylic paint on stainless steel to creating sculptures out of driftwood and cement. Continuously dedicated to expanding upon his art education, Jay recently attended classes in woodcarving, concrete sculpture, watercolor, mural painting, pinstriping and paper mache.
Jenny Wren Designs
When she isn’t working farmers markets for A. Nagamine Nursery or transplanting tomatoes for Cole Canyon Farm — both MBCFM members — Jenny Wren spends her time channeling her creative energy to create whimsical works of mosaic art for the home and garden. An Aromas resident, Wren happily combines a passion for growing vegetables with turning bits of broken glass into beautiful works of art.
Second Street Café
Established in September 2008 by Mackenzie Fullmer — featured this past January as the MBCFM’s Hail to the Chef — and Jessie Kittle, Second Street Café is located across Second Street from the Watsonville courthouse, part of the city’s Civic Plaza. Offering fresh salads and sandwiches as well as ever-changing daily lunch specials, the café uses fresh and locally sourced ingredients and makes everything in-house each day. Participating in its first Home and Hearth Holiday Fair, the café will bring housemade baked goods, artisan candies and decorated sugar cookie boxes, ideal to enjoy on the spot or to give as memorable gifts to family and friends.
Trellis and Vine
Anne and Rick Baker have been creating jewelry and selling it at farmers markets together for more than 12 years. The pair creates original designs inspired by the beauty of nature, using sterling silver, gold filling, gemstones and pearls. From Anne’s twisted wire vine necklaces to Rick’s hand-hammered crosses, Trellis and Vine produces diverse designs, resulting in a wide variety of handmade, uniquely designed jewelry.
MPC MARKET HOLIDAY HOURS: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, MPC Farmers Market will be open on Wednesday, November 27 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. It will be CLOSED on Friday, November 29.
APTOS MARKET HOLIDAY HOURS: The Aptos Farmers Market will be open its normal day and hours on Saturday, November 30 from 8 a.m. until noon.
The Carmel and Del Monte Farmers Markets are closed for the season and will reopen in May 2014.
Annual Harvest Festival Hoedown and Apple Pie Baking Contest
By Kirsten Fairchilds – Given that Watsonville, an area once known as the Apple Capital of the World, is located nearby, it seems only natural that the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets in Aptos should celebrate the crop’s annual harvest.
On Saturday, October 26, the Aptos market will host the Second Annual Harvest Festival Hoedown from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Festivities will include an apple pie-baking contest for both children and adults, giveaways of pumpkins and coloring books, face painting and live music performed by the Bean Creek Bluegrass Band.
Andrew Cohen, the MBCFM’s chef in residence, will also be on hand to lead a tasting of the locally grown varieties of heirloom apples that are sold at the market.
“Heirloom apples represent the heart of the Pajaro Valley,” Cohen said. “Every apple peaks at a different time, which is the beauty of having all these different apples available. The huge variety of apples available is what signifies the fall season for me.”
First held last October, the Harvest Festival Hoedown proved so popular that the MBCFM decided to make it an annual event.
“Fall is upon us, and this event allows us to cherish the history of the apple industry in this area,” said Catherine Barr, the MBCFM’s executive director. “It’s a really good community event that can be enjoyed not only by adults, but also children.”
Barr cited popular demand as the reason for adding an apple pie baking contest to this year’s slate of activities. The contest will have two divisions: junior (16 years and younger) and adult (17 years and older) with prizes awarded to the top three entries in each division. Naturally, Cohen will be on the judging panel, and he shared a couple of tips for prospective entrants.
“Using more than one variety of apple will give you a broader spectrum of flavor,” Cohen said. “But no matter what you want to use a firmer apple, and some will bake out better than others.”
The Second Annual Harvest Festival Hoedown will be held at the Aptos Market on Saturday, October 26. Hours: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Apple Pie Baking Contest will accept entries at 9 a.m. with judging to begin at 10 a.m. There will be a junior (16 years and under) and an adult division (17 and older) with prizes being awarded to first, second and third place in each division.
Admission, activities and contest entries are free of charge.
By Cynthia Jordan, Master Gardener – Fall is in the air but don’t put away those garden tools just yet. While the majority of the country prepares its fields and gardens for winter sleep, it’s Round Two for California gardeners.
Monterey Bay has some of its best weather in October and November. Even December and January can provide daytime warmth for plants and soil. Seldom do we see a freeze till February or March. The bottom line is — get those cool-season plants in the ground now for a winter harvest of popular veggies.
You will be amazed at the cool season crops you can plant: beets, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, parsley, cabbage, celery, lettuce, and spinach galore. If you started seeds in August and September, you will have seedlings to plant. If you didn’t, buy starts and get them in the ground now. You can find a great selection of cool season starts at Cole Canyon Farms and Upstarts Organic Seedlings at the Aptos Farmers Market.
Prune the Roses!
Before we head to your veggie garden, make a stop at your rose bushes. I like to include roses from my yard as part of my holiday centerpieces. So I do a semi-hard pruning in October. By the time Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, the bushes are in full bloom again. Even better, the foliage is new and disease-free. Remember — you can’t hurt roses. They’ve been around 4,000 years. They are like hair. They grow back quickly and thicker. Finish the pruning session with some fish emulsion and/or organic compost. Keep the bushes watered. You will have beautiful roses for the holidays.
Tending the Edibles
Many of my tomato varieties still have yet to ripen this year. Checking around with fellow Master Gardeners, mine are not the only ones taking their old sweet time. So I’ll have to work around them to find room for my veggie winter garden. BTW, by now you should have really cut back on watering your tomatoes – at least by two-thirds. The tomatoes will be sweeter if you back off on the watering.
Once you’ve decided on location, prep the soil for the new seedlings. If you’ve just cleared away your summer crops, the soil should be in fairly good shape — assuming it was well-nourished with organic matter and organic fertilizers. If this is the case, add some more compost to ensure fresh nutrients for the winter planting.
If you are planting a winter garden in previously unused soil, you’ve got more work to do. Double dig the area. Add lots of organic compost and organic fertilizer. Work it in well and water. If you are using raised beds, the same attention must be given to soil preparation. Soil fertility and health is absolutely the number one key to success. Healthy soil drains properly. As the rains come it is important that your winter garden has good drainage. You can also minimize erosion by planting your seedlings closer together. When they grow in and bump up against each other, they will cover the soil and prevent erosion.
Added insurance that your winter veggies will thrive is in the form of simple, low-slung hoop covers made from plastic and PVC piping. However, if you are planting hardy seedlings now, the soil and air temperature of our Indian Summer should sustain the plants. The one caveat is an unexpected freeze or hard rain. Have some plastic available should you have to throw a cover over your winter garden.
Cool Season Garden Tidbits
- Weeds will grow in your winter garden. Be careful pulling them out. You may damage the young roots of the veggie plants. Instead, just cut the weeds down to the ground but throw away the tops.
- Lettuce does not need warm conditions (air or soil) to germinate. Plant lettuce seedlings all winter long. Stagger the plantings so you can harvest over many months.
- Snails and slugs do not hibernate in the winter. Your tender, juicy winter crop will be heaven on earth to these low-slung creatures. Hand-pick every day to keep them under control. You can also place a rolled-up newspaper or counter-sink a tuna can filled with beer at the ends of your beds. Check the can and under the newspaper daily for snail bodies. Feed them to your chickens or ducks!
- If you want to plant a winter garden closer to the house so you don’t have to sprint through the rain to harvest dinner, consider this. Purchase some standard size bales of hay and line them up in a convenient spot. Hollow out the bales and line the cut-out area with aviary wire or any mesh that allows drainage but keeps the soil intact. Pack in a mix of healthy soil and organic compost. Plant your seedlings and tend as you would if the garden was in raised beds or the ground. When you no longer use the bales, add them to your compost pile or use as a soil topping.
There’s nothing like a cool-season garden to keep your spirits up and your food bill down as winter progresses. And think of the benefit to the environment when you are not buying veggies flown in from thousands of miles away.
By Cynthia Jordan, Master Gardener
In 1974, I walked into a vintage/antique furniture store and purchased my first serious piece of furniture. It was a circa 1920s oak drop-front secretarial desk. Just barely 50 years old, the desk did not qualify as a full-blown ‘antique.’ Furniture is generally classified as ‘antique’ when it is at least 50-100 years old. But I didn’t care about the classification. Since it was ‘vintage’ instead of antique, I could afford to buy it. I still have it and marvel daily at how beautiful and functional it is. It has aged gracefully into an ‘antique.’
Fast forward to 1994. I had just received my certification as a master gardener through the UCCE Master Gardener program. No more 1970s houseplants for me! It was time to plant some grown-up, ‘serious’ plants — and most certainly some edibles. I had never before grown a plant that I could intentionally eat. I walked into every nursery in Santa Cruz County and beyond in search of the newest haute cuisine tomato. “Heirloom” was not yet part of my gardening vernacular. And what did it matter? A tomato by any other name was still just a tomato. Fortunately, the old-timers who became my gardening buddies set me on the path to heirloom enlightenment!
Generally speaking, an heirloom plant is one that was introduced before 1940 and has been consistently grown in a particular region for at least 40 - 50 years. For instance, one of Renee Shepherd’s favorite heirlooms is the 100+ year-old lemon cucumber. (See www.reneesgarden.com for an extensive list of heirlooms tried and tested here in Santa Cruz County.)
The Oxford English Dictionary definition for heirloom: “open-pollinated varieties that are more than 50 years old and have been handed down through generations.” But ‘heirloom’ is defined by more than just age. Heirloom seeds can be saved by the gardener or farmer and planted year after year. Heirloom plants are very tasty, almost distinctly sweet, versus the bland taste that can be found in bred-for-commercial-market varieties. Heirlooms will have a resistance to the pests and diseases of the particular region in which they are grown. And heirlooms are never genetically modified.
“Open-pollinated” refers to a very important heirloom trait: the flowers of the plant are pollinated by bees or wind. Open-pollinated seeds will grow “true” year after year — the saved seed will produce a plant that looks like the one from which you gathered that seed. The seed you plant in year one
Other trivia in case you are interested in nitty-gritty heirloom details:
- ‘Heirloom’ is not to be confused with ‘organic.’ Not all heirlooms are grown organically and organic crops are not necessarily heirlooms.
- All heirlooms are open pollinated but not all open pollinated plants are heirlooms.
- Heirlooms grown in one region may differ significantly from the same heirlooms from another region. An heirloom Brandywine tomato grown in a dry climate zone will differ in traits from an heirloom Brandywine grown in the wetter climates of southeastern states.
The ultimate importance of heirlooms is in their sustainability. The ability of an heirloom to sustain and reproduce itself generation after generation is critical. Food sustainability and security is being threatened all over the world. Gary Isben of TomatoFest fame, refers to this threat as ‘genetic erosion.’ Gary said, “Every heirloom variety is genetically unique, and inherent in this uniqueness is an evolved resistance to pests and diseases and an adaptation to specific growing conditions and climates. With the reduction in genetic diversity, food production is drastically at risk from plant epidemics and infestation by pests. This is called genetic erosion.”
Like my oak desk that evolved from ‘vintage’ to ‘antique,’ the hybrids of today may be future heirlooms if they hang around long enough. George Ball, CEO of Burpee Seed Company noted, “Heirlooms were varieties that were so unsuccessful that they wouldn’t be sold today. Every product declines until it’s replaced by new heirlooms.” Over time, a hybrid can acquire the traits that are critical mass to becoming a “new heirloom.”
The one condition that will not allow – either genetically or legally — a hybrid to become an heirloom is the altering of the plant’s genetics. As a result, GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have unwittingly propelled heirlooms into the spotlight once again. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds reports a 100% increase in heirloom seed sales in 2008. The National Gardening Association reports that one in five gardeners wants to plant heirloom fruits, berries and vegetables.
Once upon a time, our grandparents made their seed selections to ensure successful present and future harvests. Now we must make our seed selections to ensure there is a future for our food.
By Kirsten Fairchilds
This article is the second in a series devoted to Colony Collapse Disorder [CCD], a disorder in which honeybees die off in large numbers. For more information, please visit www.thedailygreen.com, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources website, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service website.
Local beekeepers offer positive suggestions for serious problem
Colony Collapse Disorder [CCD] continues to make news this summer.
While scientists seem close to agreeing on a cause for the disorder, in which honeybees have been dying off in unprecedented large numbers, CCD continues to affect bee populations worldwide.
Given that the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets [MBCFM] consists of members that either are currently directly impacted by CCD or have the potential to be, the organization has taken a proactive stance on educating the general public on how to positively impact the bee population on the Central Coast.
A MBCFM vendor since 1989, Lynne Bottazzo of Amen Bee Products in San Martin has continued to find empty boxes. She’s encouraging people to take one or more of the following steps:
1. “Go to local stores and ask the owners not to carry garden products with neonicotinoids.” [Neonicotinoids were cited in a March 28 New York Times article by Michael Wines on the impact of CCD in the U.S. as a “nicotine-derived pesticide that European regulators implicate in bee deaths.”]
2. “Ask local storeowners not to carry GMO products, especially corn as bees go to corn for pollen.”
3. “Get a hive, and let the bees be free to swarm.”
4. “Plant seeds that are beneficial to insects. Buy wildflower seed blends created especially for bees.” (Visit www.Seedland.com)
5. “Do not use sprays in your garden at all.”
6. “Include an area for beneficial insects.”
Karla DeLong, the president of the Santa Cruz Bee Guild, said that she has good news to report in terms of CCD and Santa Cruz County.
“In beekeeping, there is no ‘never’ or ‘always’ because as soon as you say one of those words, the exception will show up,” said DeLong, who also works at the Ben Lomond-based Mountain Feed and Farm Supply, a friend of the MBCFM. “We’ve been really lucky in this county because we have seen very little true colony collapse disorder. My experience has also been that CCD is more of a commercial issue than a hobbyist issue.”
That said, however, DeLong also suggested the general public become aware of the steps they can take to potentially safeguard an area’s healthy bee population.
1. “Limit or stop the use of insecticides — even if it’s not direct exposure — and especially on roses and ornamental plants. Roses have beautiful pollen, and honeybees come to them for the pollen.”
2. “When planting bee-friendly plants, be careful the seeds aren’t treated. Spread wildflower seeds wherever there is space.”
3. “Allow clover to grow in your lawn. Let dandelions grow. Bees are crazy for dandelions. It’s one of the first sources of the year for pollen.”
4. “Support companies and organizations that you know are being helpful to bees, such as Mountain Feed, the MBCFM and places that sell local, organic food.”
DeLong, who teaches classes and leads free workshops at Mountain Feed, also shared that there is help available when bees swarm.
“Don’t kill them,” DeLong said. “On our website santacruzbees.com, there is information on how to have people come out and collect your swarm for free.”
With an online membership of approximately 300, the Santa Cruz Bee Guild holds meetings on the first Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the community room of El Rio Mobile Home Park in Santa Cruz.
Averaging about 60 members per meeting, the monthly meetings, DeLong said, are not limited to beekeepers or those interested in becoming beekeepers.
“People who come to our meetings just like bees or are interested in them,” DeLong said. “We have a lot of bees in this county and we have a lot of people in this county who like bees.”
Cowboy Boots and Country Roots — It’s Santa Cruz County Fair Time!n
By Kirsten Fairchilds
Ever wish you could just get back to a simpler way of life?
If so, here are two suggestions:
1) Head to the Santa Cruz County Fair in September for an event that hearkens back to what entertainment used to be about: getting together with family and friends to celebrate a sense of community in a fun-filled setting.
2) Head to your kitchen, darkroom or garden and come up with your best creation. Then, actually participate in the fair by entering your work in any number of categories.
With this year’s theme of “Cowboy Boots and Country Roots,” the Santa Cruz County Fair will continue to celebrate the rich history of the agricultural community by keeping many of the same attractions and shows, but also by adding new features such as valet parking and an opening night gala to enhance the fairgoer’s experience.
“The idea of the gala is to attract newcomers to the Fair or folks who haven’t been for a while,” said Jon Barr, a member of the Fair’s volunteer management team. “It’s a great way to show how important the Fair is to the community and it’s also an event to showcase the wonderful buildings we have at the Fairgrounds.”
Held on Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Opening Night Gala will take place at the Heritage House from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Located near the Fair’s entrance, the Heritage House stands next to the historic Rodgers House, a home built in the 1870s that will be open exclusively that evening for gala attendees. Volunteers dressed in period costume will be available at the Rodgers House to impart information.
Over at the Heritage House, guests can enjoy appetizers and beer and wine as well as entertainment. Santa Cruz’s own Bill the Oyster Man will be shucking fresh oysters, and a no-host cocktail bar will also be available.
Although the Fair has no oyster-shucking competition at this time, it does continue to have brewing and winemaking competitions as well as a wide range of other opportunities in which participants can test their skill.
With no charge for entries, the Fair has implemented later deadlines and added new categories this year to entice Santa Cruz County residents to put their talents on display. [A complete listing of all categories and deadlines is available at www.santacruzcountyfair.com.]
Friends always raving about your salsa? Enter the salsa-making contest and possibly earn some well-deserved bragging rights.
Do coworkers always appreciate the gifts of homemade jams and marmalades you give them around the holidays? Well, why not take a chance and see if you can add the term “award-winning” to those gifts this year.
If you’re uncertain of how your efforts might stack up against other participants in the friendly competition, then gear up for next year by heading to the Fair and checking out the entries in the various competitions, all housed in the numerous buildings located on the Fairgrounds.
“The Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and the buildings on it really make for a unique setting,” said Barr, whose wife Catherine is executive director of the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets, a proud supporter of the Santa Cruz County Fair. “People don’t realize how spruced up the Fairgrounds are these days. The place really has a lot to offer.”
The Santa Cruz County Fair runs from Tuesday, Sept. 10, through Sunday, Sept. 15. Location: 2601 East Lake Avenue, Watsonville. Hours: noon to 10 p.m., Tuesday; noon to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday.
Admission: $10 adults; $8 seniors 62 and older, $5 kids aged six to 12; and free for kids aged five and under. Parking $5 per car; valet parking $20.
Special events: Opening Night Gala: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday. Cost: $75 includes fair admission and valet parking. Tuesday is also Senior Day at Fair, $5 at gate; Wednesday is Kids Day, kids 12 and under are free.
The Monterey Bay Iris Society is having its Annual Iris Rhizome Sale on Saturday, August 10 at the Aptos Farmers Market.
Here’s your chance to get some beautiful, healthy iris rhizomes from the private gardens of the members of the Monterey Bay Iris Society. The sale is well-known for its incredible selection of tall bearded iris. There will be a good selection of regular tall bearded iris, re-blooming iris and some historic iris.
The rhizomes are $3.00 each or 20 for $50.00. At the sale, expert iris growers will be on hand to help you with your selection and will have free printed information on how to grow iris. There will be iris available in almost every color of the rainbow — most will have colored pictures attached to each rhizome.
Since water rationing is now a way of life in the Santa Cruz area, iris are a good choice for our gardens because they are drought tolerant. Iris bloom in the spring and need very little water in the summer.
The sale is popular, so arrive early to get the best selection.
If you can't make the sale, you can call Brenda Wood at (831) 818-4515 to place an order.
Corralitos grower Ken Kimes named Santa Cruz County's Farmer of the Year
By Shanna McCord, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 6/27/2013
Longtime Corralitos sprout grower Ken Kimes was named farmer of the year by the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau during the group's 96th annual dinner on Thursday.
"This is really stunning, really flooring," he said after the award was announced. "Agriculture has been really good to me.
"This really shouldn't be my award. My wife deserves it, too. It should be our award or her award." Kimes, 62, a leader in the early organic movement and on the forefront of growing mustard as an alternative fuel, was chosen by the farm bureau's board of directors for his dedication to the agriculture industry and local community since 1982.
More than 200 people attended the event, held at Rancho Santa Maria on Hecker Pass Road.
Kimes was honor by lawmakers from each city in the county, the county Board of Supervisors, state lawmakers and Rep. Sam Farr.
"Ken was just a unanimous decision," said Jess Brown, farm bureau executive director. "He's a very calm type of person. He handles everything so calmly and professionally. And he's always helping beyond his own ranch."
By Kirsten Fairchilds
Jenn Crovato has cooked for a client list that could easily be described as a Who’s Who of Washington, D.C., and Beyond.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) and musicians such as Lionel Ritchie and Quincy Jones have all dined on dishes that Crovato prepared while working as either a personal chef or during her tenure at a high-powered D.C.-based catering company.
With an annual salary that often surpasses six figures, Crovato, 37, developed her skills at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, but her approach to food was developed while working for a year in Italy at the start of her career.
That approach and the cooking methods that best support it can be found in Crovato’s newly published cookbook: Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Pepper, $35.99. A resident of Silver Springs, Md., Crovato will spend a sizeable part of her summer touring the western U.S. promoting the cookbook, including during a visit to the Monterey Bay area.
This month, Crovato will be on hand at all of the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets [MBCFM] markets to demo recipes using seasonal ingredients from the markets. Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Pepper will also be available for purchase, and Crovato will follow up each cooking demonstration with a book signing.
- Monterey: July 12
- Aptos: July 13
- Del Monte: July 14
- Carmel: July 16
“I’ve been wanting to write this book for a long time,” said Crovato, during a recent telephone interview. “Italy changed the way I cooked because I focused more on the product while working there — just starting with a high-quality ingredient and preparing it as simply as possible.
“I would just season it with salt and pepper and either sauté, grill, roast or blanch it and I’ve also always cooked with olive oil — I believe it’s heart-healthy,” she continued. “I feel like the book will be well received in California because I know a lot of people go to farmers markets there and believe in the benefits of eating fresh foods.”
A single mother raising a preteen and a teenager, Crovato said she was determined to include recipes in her book that she called “kid-friendly,” which she defined as “easy to make and avoiding sugar and additives.”
Available in Whole Foods in the mid-Atlantic region as well as in olive oil stores and bookstores in the D.C. area, Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Pepper is also sold online at Crovato’s website: www.healingwithfreshfoods.com. The cookbook is endorsed by Donald Graham, the CEO of the Washington Post, and dedicated to philanthropist Joseph E. Robert Jr., Crovato’s former permanent employer who died in 2011 at the age of 59 from brain cancer.
“My late boss Joe Robert was such a giver, and everything he owned went to charity,” Crovato said. “He started a charity 23 years ago called Fight For Children where all of the money raised goes to health and education programs for children in Washington, D.C. What he has done for D.C. as well as for Children’s National (Medical Center) is just untouched.”
To honor her late boss — of whom Crovato said: “Before I started working for him, I Googled him and one site said he was the most influential Washingtonian you’ve never heard of” — $3 of every cookbook sold will go to Fight For Children.
“When Joe became ill, there was less entertaining, so I found time to start writing the book,” Crovato said. “When he passed away, I decided I needed to finish the book. He made it possible for me to take the time to do that. I couldn’t have done it without him.”
How to Plant, Eat and Sing About an Herb Garden
By Cynthia Jordan, Master Gardener
“Are you going to Scarborough fair — parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…”
— From Simon and Garfunkel's 1966 hit, traced back to a Celtic ballad dated to 1650
I cannot think of herbs without humming that song. In my pre-gardening days and before I made the connection between herbs and food seasoning, these were the only four herbs I could name. Actually, I didn't know enough to call them 'herbs.' They were 'good-smelling plants.' These four and many others are now an important part of many home gardens. In songs, in soups, or in medicine cabinets, herbs are a common denominator in cultures all over the world.
Archeological research points to medicinal as the original widespread use of herbs. Evidence of medicinal herbs has been found in a 60,000 year old Iraqi burial site. Ancient Egyptians and the Chinese record the use of medicinal herbs back to 3500 B.C. and 2700 B.C. respectively. Of the 58,000,000 Google hits for 'herbs.' the majority focused on medicinal or spiritual uses. Today, over 5 billion people use some form of herb for culinary, medicinal and/or sacred purposes.
Best Herbs for Monterey Bay Gardens For insight into the current popularity of herbs, I went to the resident seedling experts at the Saturday Aptos Farmers Market at Cabrillo College: Sarah Machado of Upstarts and Pamela Mason of Cole Canyon Farm.
Upstarts Organic Seedlings produces and distributes heirloom and hybrid vegetable and herb seedlings. They have been certified organic with CCOF since 1990. Owner Sarah Machado is a farmer with her finger on the pulse of the marketing aspect of her business. In addition to the individual shoppers at the Aptos Farmers Market, Upstarts provides bedding stock for the retail nursery trade in the San Francisco, Napa and Monterey Bay areas.
Sarah is very tuned into cooking and shopping trends. "I am always learning more facts from my customers about herbs such as Holy basil, Shiso, White Sage, Vietnamese Cilantro. I will take notes for recipes and the different ways my customers use them." Sarah says that input from her customers will often lead to a new herb being grown by Upstarts. An example is green columnar Basil. It is a cross with a strong, vigorous upright habit that is propagated by cuttings. The three top selling herbs at Upstarts are basil (Italian Large Leaf, aka Sweet Basil, and Genovese), Parsley Gigante (a large leaf Italian), and English and French Thyme.
Pamela Mason shared that the three top selling herbs at Cole Canyon are African Blue Basil (great when cooked, a strong pollinator attractant, wonderful aroma); English Thyme (potent, as useful as salt and pepper in many foods, tidy in the garden); Kentucky Colonel Mint/Spearmint (great with fruit salads and mixed greens, a terrific mojito mint). Lemon Verbena is a close fourth. Pamela stresses that in the current drought conditions, “Mediterranean herbs — rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender, marjoram, bay, sage – do well with little water and, in fact, have more intense flavors if they are kept dry.”
Tips for Growing Herbs from Master Gardeners Advice from The internet abounds with articles on planting and using herbs. But nothing takes the place of hands-on, been-there-done-that, dirt-under-my-nails-and-basil-in-my-teeth experience. For this I went to the University of CA Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program graduates.
Some basics when preparing, planting and tending herbs:
- Site — do not underestimate the amount of sun that most herbs require. Six to eight hours. More if you can. Grow near the kitchen so you are motivated to harvest and use constantly. A sunny window and the right pot will get you a season's supply of several herbs.
- Soil — must be well-draining, with lots of organic compost mixed with native soil is good. Go for a neutral pH level of 6.5 to 7.
- Select healthy plants — if plants are wilted, have very little foliage or foliage is off-color, you are starting your herb garden at a disadvantage. Make sure there are no bugs or bites on the leaves.
- Know the growing habits of each herb — some will take over the pot or bed and you are left with one herb.
- Water — little is needed for many herbs. However, do not plant a drought-loving herb with one that requires more water. Water in the morning.
- Fertilize — use a compost "tea" once a week. Use organic compost as your fertilizer and topping. You will be continuously harvesting from some of the same plants. Make sure the next wave of foliage gets its share of fertilizer.
- Absolutely do NOT use chemicals of any kind — you are going to put herbs in your food and bees are going to go mad pollinating from your plants. Do not put chemicals in your body or the bee's.
More words of wisdom from herb-loving Master Gardeners:
Al Derrick: "I grew herbs in a raised bed that I built, filling it with good top soil and a variety of herbs. I solved a snail problem by lining the inside edge of the box with copper foil. As the breakfast cook in our house, I enjoy using sweet Marjorum (Origanum majorana) in my omelets. I think the most useful book on herbs is Park's Success With Herbs."
Randa Solick: "It's not very hot here, on the Monterey side of the Bay. When I can get it to grow, I use fresh basil, chives and sometimes mint. Herbal tea is my focus. I grow ju hua, Chinese Chrysanthemum, dandelion as an additive to teas, and lemon balm. I grow a lot of comfrey, dry it and crumble it for many uses."
Tammy Tahara: "I grow herbs on a sunny deck since I don't have a good yard for a garden. I grow basil, rosemary, bay (I have a small tree), oregano, dill, thyme, coriander, and sage. They are very rewarding to grow and I use them all in cooking. In my experience, the herbs guaranteed to grow are bay, basil, oregano, and rosemary."
Robin Sanders: "I have been growing herbs for 30 plus years. I have some in pots and some in the ground. The herbs I use the most in cooking are oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley. A guaranteed success to grow is mint."
Farmers Markets Open For Season
The Carmel Farmers Market at The Barnyard Shopping Village opens Tuesday, May 7, and is open from 9 a.m. -1 p.m. New this year at the Carmel Farmers Market — sharpening services will be available every week by Craig Chadwick of Restoration Edge.
The Del Monte Farmers Market next to Whole Foods at the Del Monte Shopping Center opens Sunday, May 12 and is open from 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Free tote bags will be available on opening days to shoppers while supplies last.
Both markets offer lots of free parking and easy access.
By Kirsten Fairchilds
For the past few months, a heated environmental battle has taken place in the European Union.
Even though Europe is a continent and an ocean away, the subject of this battle has had an impact that has stretched far and wide, affecting even the Monterey Bay area.
The battle is over bees.
More specifically, intense disagreements abound as to what has been causing bees to die off in staggering numbers, a condition referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder [CCD] that first began to surface back in 2005, as well as what individual governments and the European Commission should do about it.
"CCD is having a profoundly detrimental impact on the bee population all over the world and is believed to be the result of several situations," said Cynthia Jordan, certified as a master gardener through the University of California Cooperative Extension. "It may result from tracheal mites and unusually warm winters — January 2012 was the fourth warmest January in history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA].
"But it also may be caused by pesticides, specifically a class called neonicotinoids, developed in the 1980s," Jordan continued. "The European Commission has been pushing for a ban on neonicotinoids, but the chemical companies are fighting it."
Neonicotinoids, cited in a March 28 New York Times article by Michael Wines on the impact of CCD in the U.S. as a "nicotine-derived pesticide that European regulators implicate in bee deaths," are considered systemic pesticides.
"Older pesticides could kill bees and other beneficial insects," Wines wrote. "But while they quickly degraded — often in a matter of days — neonicotinoids persist for weeks and even months. Beekeepers worry that bees carry a summer's worth of contaminated pollen to hives, where ensuing generations dine on a steady dose of pesticide…"
In March, the European Commission proposed a ban on neonicotinoids, but European Union members failed to reach an agreement. According to a Reuters article published in The Guardian, also on March 28, the commission is threatening to force one through unless member states agree to a compromise.
In Wines' article, he wrote that a coalition of U.S. beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency in January with a charge that it had exceeded its authority by conditionally approving some neonicotinoids. He added that the agency has begun an accelerated review looking into the matter.
"Annual bee losses of 5 percent to 10 percent were the norm for beekeepers," Wines wrote. "But after colony collapse disorder surfaced around 2005, the losses approached one-third of all bees, despite beekeepers' best efforts to ensure their health."
For Lynne Bottazzo of Amen Bee Products in San Martin, a Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets [MBCFM] vendor since 1989, CCD has, and continues, to hit home.
"The situation is tragic," said Bottazzo, who continues to find empty boxes. "It is not a single beekeeper's problem, but all beekeepers are a part of this horrible situation.
"Do you eat?" Bottazzo asked. "Well, then you are also involved."
Jordan, who has led the MBCFM series "Can You Dig It?" for the past five years, echoed Bottazzo's sentiments.
"If you eat, you should care about this problem," Jordan said. "Water, soil, sun and bee pollination are key to food production. Without bees — or even a reduction in bees — not only would harvest numbers be down, but some produce requiring pollination would not even be available.
"Whatever kills bees kills other beneficials we must have in our food production," she continued. "Bees are a litmus test of the health and safety of our planet."
Jordan suggested that home gardeners can take steps to help the situation locally by planting bee-friendly plants, a number of which are available at the MBCFM.
"There are numerous types of bees, and there are certain plants that attract different bees," she said. "Some of the more common plants loved by bees that grow well on the Monterey Bay are asters, marigolds, clematis, dahlias, fruit trees, maple and magnolia trees as well as herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme, to name a few.
"Please also stop using pesticides and chemical fertilizers," Jordan continued. "Bees, birds and beneficial insects suffer when home gardeners use these products. There is no need to use them. Use organic fertilizers or, better still, organic compost — the ultimate gift for your plants and their bee friends. Ultimately, what does it matter if your garden is not perfect if it means the destruction of the very insect that feeds you — bees?"
For more information, please visit www.thedailygreen.com, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources website and the USDA Agricultural Research Service website.
See also: Europe Bans Pesticides Thought Harmful to Bees, The New York Times, April 29, 2013
By Kirsten Fairchilds
The Schoch family grew up drinking raw milk. Dairy farmers for three generations, the Schochs drank milk from their own cows, raised on 100 acres in Salinas.
The family established Schoch Family Farmstead in 1944. Since 2010, the business has been selling raw dairy cheese at the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets [MBCFM].
In late March, Schoch Family Farmstead — Schoch is pronounced as “shock” — began selling raw milk at both the Aptos and MPC markets. By mid-April, they plan to have raw cream on hand, followed by a summertime debut of raw yogurt.
“A lot of people were asking us when they would be able to buy raw milk,” said John Schoch, whose father Ernest and uncle Adolph came to the Salinas Valley from Switzerland in the 1920s and eventually founded Schoch Family Farmstead. “We’ve been wanting to diversify and get into raw milk. We had the dairy, so we had the product already.”
Ty Schoch, John’s son, explained that while the family has always sold its milk to a co-op, it didn’t begin selling dairy products directly to the public until three years ago when it began renting a facility where it could make raw cheese.
After hearing repeated requests over the years for adding raw milk to their product line, the Schochs decided to make the leap and come up with the funds necessary to meet the startup costs.
“We’re licensed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to sell raw milk and we have to have a CDFA- and FDA-inspected facility,” Ty said. “In addition to licensing the facility, the CDFA and FDA regularly sample and test our milk.
“Everything is now onsite — it’s bottled onsite,” he continued. “I can bring to market a little over 100 bottles. That’s just over 50 gallons.”
Schoch Family Farmstead sells its milk for $7 per half-gallon bottle with a $2 bottle deposit.
“We don’t use pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers or hormones,” Ty said. “If a cow who is sick or ill gets treated with antibiotics, that milk gets dumped. It does not go into the food supply.”
Ty said there hasn’t been much need for educating MBCFM customers as to the benefits of raw milk, but he’s happy to provide information and answer any questions.
“Milk is a fairly fragile product,” Ty said. “Every time, it’s pumped, chilled, heated, homogenized, transported — the integrity of the milk is ruined. Raw milk is healthier. When you drink raw milk, you’ll get much better flavor with better mouthfeel, plus the benefits of the natural enzymes, lactic-acid-producing bacteria and CLAs — conjugated linoleic acid — which are all destroyed in the pasteurization process.
“Most of the people that want to buy raw milk are already educated about it — they just didn’t have a place to find it,” Ty continued. “Raw milk is hard to find. There are only three dairies in the state of California licensed to sell raw milk directly to the public, and we’re one of them. Our customers are really excited.”
It's that time of year again, and Good Times wants you to tell them about your favorite places and things in their annual survey!
This is your chance to vote for the very best that Santa Cruz County has to offer, from dining to entertainment to shopping and...the Aptos Farmers Market!
Deadline to vote is Sunday, March 10, 2013.
By Kirsten Fairchilds
Judy Nagamine loves her dog.
A border collie-Australian shepherd mix named Eva, the dog is a beloved member of the Nagamine family, according to its owner.
However, as much as Nagamine loves spending time with Eva, she does not bring the dog with her to work on Saturday mornings at the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets [MBCFM] in Aptos.
Instead, Eva stays home. And so should all pets, no matter if they are dogs, cats, birds or other animals.
With the exception of service animals, animals are not allowed at farmers markets in the state of California. Additionally, Cabrillo College, the site of the Aptos Market, does not allow pets on campus.
"When dogs come into a stand, they sniff," said Nagamine of A. Nagamine Nursery, Inc., located in Corralitos. "It's not appropriate for dogs to sniff the produce. They put their nose on it one time, and of course, we have to throw it out. Of course, we can't sell it.
"The owner can't watch their pet every second," she continued. "I know they're not bad dogs, but just from the whole food safety standpoint, animals just really shouldn't be inside where the food is sold."
MBCFM staff has signs posted prohibiting pets around the perimeter of the market, yet incidents of dogs marking tables and buckets with their scent as well as biting both vendors and customers have been reported.
In regards to service animals, the revised Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] published by the U.S. Department of Justice states: "Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA."
The revised ADA requirements go on to state: "Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises."
And also: "In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department's revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities."
Vendors have also reported incidents of pet birds landing on boxes of nuts and greens.
For those who arrive with a pet bird on their shoulder, Section 114371 of the California Retail Food Code states: "Certified farmers' markets shall meet all of the following requirements: (d) No live animals, birds, or fowl shall be kept or allowed within 20 feet of any area where food is stored or held for sale. This subdivision does not apply to guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs when used in the manner specified in Section 54.1 of the Civil Code."
MBCFM executive director Catherine Barr said that she has noticed more and more visitors to the Aptos market arriving with their pets in tow, requiring her staff to intervene and inform them that pets are prohibited.
"While service animals are definitely welcomed, we ask our customers to leave their pets at home," said Barr, who owns a golden retriever named Oski and Tweed, a chocolate lab. "As a dog lover and owner myself, I know my pets would be more comfortable at home.
"There is a time and a place to bring your animal — the farmers market is not one of them because having animals around food violates county health codes," she continued. "There are also so many families with small children in attendance — I've seen dogs bite children as well as aggressive dogs go after each other.
"We want everyone to have an enjoyable time at the farmers market, and not worry about their safety, so please keep your pets at home."
Read recently posted stories in the Market News Archive: Go to Archive >