Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This week's share

This is a photo of this week's share from Walnut Creek member, Rachael Zavala. Thanks, Rachael, this looks delicious!

Time Travel

While driving out to Brentwood last week to meet a friend for lunch, I was amazed at how quickly I moved from suburb to rural landscape. I drive out on Marsh Creek Road from Walnut Creek. I do this for a number of reasons: it's faster, less congested and more beautiful than the alternatives. I also think the area on the morning side of Mt. Diablo, there in Morgan Territory, has changed less than the surrounding communities.

The day I was going out was sunny between rainstorms. The hills were green to the extreme and the mud-caked cattle, actually furry from the winter, were fat and still eating. They just dot the hills in this valley and despite the many trails they leave, they don't seem to be causing any damage. Old farmhouses and ranches outnumber the newer "villas."

It took me a little over a half an hour to get to downtown Brentwood, still quaint and sleepy. I thought about how lucky I am to live where I do. I can get out of the densely populated area where I live in a matter of minutes either in the car, on a bike or on foot. The drive to Brentwood transports me each time I make it. I know I'm heading out to where my food is grown. It seems like another age in that little valley on the way.

Painting by Paul Buxman

Monday, February 16, 2009

From Rick and Kristie Knoll

In a sustainable farm system, the soil is an ecosystem, increasing in biotic diversity, evolving through successive states and progressing to a climax situation. As ecological farmers, we have the ability to nurture this progression while extracting a living from the miraculous organism we call the soil.

The only way soil develops is by plant roots penetrating and interacting with it. And the only way this interaction is sustainable is if untold numbers and types of soil microorganisms flourish in and on the plants' roots and vascular systems. This interaction is so complex that, though we may know the complete DNA of many animals, no one has unraveled the miracle of soil—a miracle so complete that the plant and soil interaction becomes a continuum. This soil continuum is the only situation that produces truly nutritious food which, in turn, restores our bodies on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many modern organic production practices—tillage, irrigation, monocultures, hydroponics, modern organic salad production—disturb and often disconnect plants from the magic of the plant-soil interface

At Knoll Farms, we have placed this single strategy at the heart of our food-production philosophy and we will continue to be leaders in soil evolution for the production of nutritious food. Organic farming was straight-forward and had integrity until the early 90s. Due to the changes in the industry in the last decade, we believe that we are forging straight ahead while the organic industry has taken a sharp oblique. We have decided to refrain from using the "O" word in the pursuit of our next evolutionary step. The new organic law says there is nothing beyond organic. We beg to differ. We feel that the soil continuum is a fundamental aspect of ecological production that is beyond what "organic" has become!

Friday, February 13, 2009


Click Here to take survey

I have created a short survey for all members and former members of Eat Outside the Box. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey so we can make this something you love!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Let the Season Begin!

It's time for us to begin our CSA! Community Supported Agriculture is a simple, yet elegant, concept. For any of you who know me, you have seen the question "Do you know your farmer?" at the end of every email and on my business card.

Well, do you?

If you belong to a CSA, chances are you do. CSAs allow us city folks to invest in a local farm. In Eat Outside the Box, we invest season by season and reap dividends in the form of weekly deliveries of fresh locally grown organic fruits and vegetables. The amount and variety are never the same. Sometimes what we get is not really what we were expecting or necessarily what we want. But what we get is seasonal, grown locally, with great care. Our arugula is picked leaf by leaf -- by hand -- washed, and packed just for us. Our vicious varietal artichokes and stinging nettles, so full of potential pain, yield great pleasure with each bite.

We eat what the farm grows and in this way, we learn a little about the farmers who nurture that growth. We learn about why the farmer has chosen a particular green. We can eat our farm's products in local restaurants and feel a sense of ownership. We belong to the farm and it belongs to us. We ingest it physically, intellectually and emotionally.

So, with the start of the season, I am ready to get to know my farmers better. To feel the sense of connection to the earth and my community through eating.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rain, rain don't go away!

Wow, how I love this rain. After living in western Washington and England where it seemed the rain didn't stop, I never dreamed I would make a statement like that. But California is unique. Dry summers have become dry spring, summer and fall lately. I recall a few recent winters when the rain came in deluges for weeks on end. I know there can be too much of a good thing, but not this year. In fact, this may turn out to be one of our driest spells on record. I have pasted below a report from the state Department of Water Resources. Maybe we should get together for a rain dance?

"As of January 1, 2009, statewide hydrologic conditions were as follows: precipitation, 90 percent of average to date; runoff, 40 percent of average to date; and reservoir storage, 70 percent of average for the date. Water Year 2009 is turning out dry like the 2 previous years. For the Northern Sierra 8-Station Precipitation Index, there is now only approximately a 15 percent chance of recovery to normal conditions (50 inches) by the end of the water year. Assuming average rainfall for the remainder of the season (February through September), the 8-Station Index would have a seasonal total of 40.9 inches. This means, assuming these conditions, that the total seasonal rainfall for the 8-stations for the last three water years would be 113.0 inches, making this the eighth driest 3-year span for the period of record (since 1923)." California Department of Water Resources.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Winter Season on Knoll Farm

Winter at Knoll Farms is a time for dark leafy greens: arugula, spinach, rapinis of all kinds and this year, broccoli di ciccio and lacinato kale. Eat Outside the Box is starting up on February 17 and I am ready. Although I shop at farmers' markets, I don't feel the same about the food. Knowing the Knolls and seeing the farm at different times of the year, make a big difference to me.

I would like all members to be able to make a trip or 2 out to the farms this year. I think it is important to see how and where our food is grown and will do what I can to facilitate this. Last year, our Slow Food chapter took a busload of interested people. This year, I'd like the CSA to make at least one trip. I think we have enough multi-person cars to carpool out and make several fun stops.

Also, Kristie suggested we go out to the farm when there is an abundance of fruit or tomatoes and have a canning party. People can bring their own jars, learn to can and go home with jars of provisions for midwinter when we don't get tomatoes or peaches. I can every year. I make jams, salsa, pickles, and sauces. I love to see the bright colors of the jars sitting on top of my shelves. I love to taste the summer during the winter for a change.