Sunday, August 8, 2010

Today we are tasting Zucchini from Green Strings Farm, near Petaluma and Carrots from Tierra Vegetables in Santa Rosa.

I am doing trial tasting for Jil, Geoff, Thomas and Chef today…no pressure.
Beginning at Green String Farm right outside of Petaluma, one of Bob Canard’s farms. When I think of Bob I think of weeds. His fields are full of weeds and he appreciates every one of them as they each have their own job in the field, providing nutrient, carbon, holding water or any number of other things. Watch this video of Bob talking about some of his growing practices
Here the farm stand is abundant and gorgeous. Walking down the rows of beautiful food I stop in front of the potatoes and ask Sarah my contact at the farm what variety they are, she said “Oh, yellow potatoes. You know Bob, he saves all of the potato starts that he likes and over the years they have just become Bob’s potatoes.” And they are wonderful. As I eat them I think of the bags of potato bits sitting in the shed waiting for spring. Today I decide to taste the zucchini and chard
and maybe potatoes from Green String Farm.
The second stop on my route is Tierra Vegetables, just off of Airport Blvd in Santa Rosa. This farm is nestled in the crux of the freeway. Is it the nature of a farm stand that is directly attached to a farm to be so vital because the vegetables are so close to their source? I don’t know, but I do often feel myself swoon as I walk from the heady aroma of the fresh picked carrots or close my eyes and inhale over the arugula. It was hard to choose between the Romano beans, kohlrabi and carrots. I decide on all of the above and postponed the decision until later.
Ensconced in Jil’s kitchen. I decide to make a little amuse bouche to be served after the first part of the tasting, just to notice how beautifully these vegetables retain their original nature.
We begin with the soil from Green String a Clear lake clay, a drop or two of water, beautiful rich color, breathe deeply…“Ah, wow, I smell carrot.” “What!” Impossible this is zucchini. Oops, no, it isn’t. I had pulled the wrong glass and Geoff had nailed it. I always worry that in this process the roll of suggestion might play a big part in the success of a tasting, so I am very happy about my mistake. Geoff had just put that worry to rest. Correcting the glasses and now serving the Clear lake clay from the zucchini, a little more subtle, but when you taste the long thin strip of zucchini and smell the soil, there it is lurking just under the surface. Now back to the Yolo Silt Loam
from Tierra and the carrot. We notice that even when the soil is harvested from exactly the same spot as the carrot some of the soil holds more of the scent of carrot. Maybe there are more of the roots retained in one spoonful than another. For me this is always fun and different every time.
Menu ideas for the Taste of Place dinner with Bard Diva and Chef Ryan Francher on the 27th were flying.

Visit for more information. Ever Saturday in August we will be doing free tastings at Studio Barn Diva. More information about Taste of Place a
The amuse bouche from Green String Farm is grated zucchini stuffed into the zucchini blossom and lightly poached in a chard broth with the young red chard
stems cut as garnish, oh yes, and pieces of leek blossom for texture. From Tierra Vegetable I sauté grated carrots with olive oil and quatre epice and make open face sandwiches on round of raw kohlrabi. I hear a grated theme here.
Our next stop will be Early Bird’s Place on Chalk Hill Road and Canvas ranch in Two Rock.

Green String Farm-
Tierra Vegetables -

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A sandy question

Do we call it dirt…or soil… and when?
This comes up over and over again & I would like to know what you think. My roots are rural Iowa. In my childhood it was always called dirt, but there was nothing dirty about this dirt, that is until it came into the house, then it was dirty. Dirt is the skin of the planet, the source of everything that grows. When does it become soil & why? Is there a hierarchy? Is soil better or more prestigious than dirt? Does it matter? Is it always soil until it is displaced, then it becomes dirt? Does it become soil when amended or augmented? Can it be soil if it lives in nature in the woods?

I recently fount an abstract published by the Southern Rural Sociological Association titled "Dirt Farmer" vs "Soil Scientist": Representative Tensions in the Constructed Identities of Farmer, hummmm, very interesting. It can be found at:

I would love to hear what you have to say about soil and dirt. I don't even know where I land on the subject. I just know that when I open my mouth one word or the other comes out. What do you think?