December 28, 2012

Satsuma Mandarins

The perfect pick-me-up! Healthy, sweet, juicy and easy to peel.  

Satsuma Mandarins

Satsuma Mandarins are soft, yet heavy with sweet juices. The longer the fruit stays on the tree, the higher their sugar content - or brix, so earlier in the season, they can be a little more firm and tart. Once your fruit is to your desired ripeness, place your fruit in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life.

Satsuma Mandarins

Satsuma Mandarins are usually eaten out of hand, but make a great addition to salads and savory dishes.They are often paired with bold-flavored foods, such as fennel and blue cheese because their sweetness provides a complementary effect.   

Planting a New Satsuma Mandarin Orchard

We are excited about a new Satsuma Mandarin orchard we planted earlier this year. Two years ago, we ordered the trees, and this summer they showed up neatly organized into bins that were delivered from the nursery.
Planting a New Satsuma Mandarin Orchard

Now the trees have been tucked into their homes that were precisely located with the help of a GPS and a surveying crew.
Planting a New Satsuma Mandarin Orchard

The new trees look good in the field, but they are so tiny! From the distance, the trees appear as little, green toothpicks neatly organized in a brown field that rolls up and down with the contour of the gently sloping hills.

The thought of a mature orchard seems so far away, but we know that slowly and steadily those little trees will make great use of the soil, sun, water and love that we will provide them.

Satsuma Mandarin Trees

How have you been enjoying your Satsumas this winter? Looking for new ways to enjoy them? Here's a list of suggestions:

Juice Them!  Drink your juice straight from the juicer or add it to your favorite tea or cocktail. Fresh citrus juice is also a great ingredient for sauces, dressings and vinaigrette.
Freeze Them!  Separate the segments then freeze them - perfect for smoothies!  Use the juice to make sorbet, granita or a frozen orange souffle.
Bake Them!  Use Satsumas in your next cake, muffin, biscotti, scone or cheesecake. 
Preserve Them!  Satsumas are some of the best citrus fruits to preserve. Turn your fresh fruit into a sweet marmalade, jam, jelly or syrup to enjoy long after Satsuma season is over. 
Peel Them!  Candy your peels, or dry them and add chunks of peel to braises or sauces. You can grind the dried peels and mix with your favorite herbs and spices to create a savory-yet-sweet spice rub to enhance just about anything.  
Eat Them!  Add fresh Satsuma segments to salads, garnish seafood dishes, make a compote or salsa, include in side dishes such as shaved fennel, fruit salad or cous cous.
Decorate With Them!  Satsumas add a hint of color to any centerpiece, wreath or garland. Craft your peel into a simple, lovely candle that uses the pith as a wick.
satsuma candle

November 5, 2012

A Look Back at Farm Events

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As our farm tour season has come to a close, I pause to think about the many different communities that joined us on the farm this year.

From March through October, we've enjoyed sharing our farm with groups of families and friends. We’ve had kids with mouths open in surprise when they see stick-straight asparagus pushing through the spring soil.  We've seen folks coming in from the fields with strawberry-red fingers and mouths as they sample the sweetness found among the strawberry rows. 


We had visitors taking home navel oranges by the bag full at our Bardsdale farm, a small farm about an hour outside of Los Angeles that we're excited to "grow" into a site well-suited to welcome visitors, a place where we can connect with our Southern California customers. 



In addition to our regular farm tours, we were able to host three seasonal events benefiting the Kathleen Barsotti Non-Profit for Sustainable Agriculture.
CINCO DE MAYO -  Mariachi and other Latin music got revelers moving as they enjoyed tortilla-making demonstrations, pinatas, strawberry and sweet pea flower picking and watching the 'Super Moon,' the year's largest moon, rise over the hills.


CAPAY TOMATO - This year marked our 5th Annual Capay Tomato event - an afternoon and evening celebrating all things tomato!  The weather was perfect, the heirloom tomatoes were plentiful, people danced by twinkling lights and campers breathed in deep the farm's night air. View more photos.

Capay Tomato Festival 2012

CAPAY CRUSH, our annual party in September cheered the grape harvest, featuring local wine and food, grape stomping, a harvest activity, live music and a camp out.  Visitors gathered at our farm-style photo booth to capture their visit.  View more photos.
Capay Crush 2012
Capay Crush 2012
In addition to our own events, we were so very excited this year to be chosen by Outstanding in the Field to host one of their fine dining experiences taking place in the fields of farms across the country and abroad. It was an experience we will always remember as we shared an amazing evening and meal with new and familiar faces. View more photos.

Outstanding in the Field

It wouldn't be a farm tour season without the enthusiasm from our school visitors!  We are excited each year to welcome school groups
to the farm to learn more about organic and sustainable agriculture and how we are all connected as a community.  It's wonderful to watch children interact with the farm, getting their hands a little dirty harvesting something fresh from the field, helping us spread ladybugs and enjoying the many sights and smells to be discovered in the air, on the ground and all around. 

As part of our school visits, we were proud to welcome community school foodservice leaders and parents who joined us in the field on a couple of occasions to see where their food is grown.  From our work on Yolo County's Harvest of the Month to welcoming Oakland Unified School District, we are excited to be working on several projects to improve school nutrition.

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Whether it was a first grader coming to a farm for the first time or a foodie joining us for a special meal in our fig orchard, we welcomed them all, grateful for their interest in our farm and happy that the food system is changing for the better by connecting people with the land that grows their food. If you are interested in bringing a group or a class to the farm, you can find more information here.

We want to extend a big thank you to everyone who joined us at the farm this year. Much gratitude also goes to our Events Team that works to turn our working farm into a place where our community can gather and connect with the land.

We look forward to seeing you next year!


October 26, 2012

Carving Time - A CSA-Inspired Pumpkin Template


As you hold your perfectly-picked pumpkin and carefully consider what creative carvings will adorn your Cucurbitaceae this year we'd like to suggest this Farm Fresh To You inspired Pumpkin Carving Template sketched by Julie L., one of our CSA members. Thanks Julie!


Julie's spooky sketch

With radish eyes, a carrot nose and chard wings the wise owl knows that veggies shouldn't be scary!

pumpkin carving template

Whether you give our autumn owl a try or set your carving skills to another design, we'd love to see your flickering, candle-lit jack-o-lanterns so be sure to share them by leaving a comment (and a photo link) below or by sharing some of your spooky season spirit with us on our Facebook wall.

Click here for a printable PDF of our pumpkin-carving template.

Happy Carving - Wishing everyone a happy and safe Halloween!


September 21, 2012

Improving School Nutrition with Harvest of the Month


In a recent documentary, Capital Public Radio explored  "What's for Lunch? The Move to Improve School Nutrition." and featured a program very important to us, Harvest of the Month (HOTM).  As part of this program, our farm will provide fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to school districts in Yolo County.

First Harvest of the Month:  Sweet Peppers!

HOTM is a program that connects to core curricular areas and provides educators with materials and resources to motivate students to make healthy choices through hands-on experience with fruits and vegetables. Nutrition fact sheets will be made available to approximately 16,000 elementary and preschool students in Yolo County.  We are so proud to be a part of Harvest of the Month and aim for this to be a model for healthy eating in our schools.

“Healthy eating has a profound impact on improving our children’s ability to learn. Getting involved in this program was a moral imperative for our farm. We want to connect people with the farms that grow their food, and we want to help young students develop healthy eating habits that will serve them well their whole lives." - Thaddeus Barsotti, chief farmer and co-CEO of Farm Fresh To You/Capay Organic

Harvest of the Month allows students to learn about a new fruit or vegetable each month, starting in October with sweet peppers. Sweet peppers will be part of salads, pizzas and other dishes in Yolo County schools. In the following months students will explore these items: November: persimmons, December: kale, January: citrus, February: broccoli, March: carrots, April: asparagus, May: strawberries.

Farm to School
Photo by Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio
Our farm will harvest our produce and partner with other Yolo County farms to meet the program’s produce needs. In addition, we will work with the county to disseminate nutritional education information to students about each month’s harvest item.

Each month, Yolo County student nutrition directors will buy these fresh produce items and include them in their hot dishes and salad bars. Students will receive monthly nutrition fact sheets about each Harvest of the Month produce item.
Farm to School
Pictured: John Young - Photo by Capital Public Radio

“We are so glad that Farm Fresh To You and Capay Organic stepped up to the plate to help us provide produce to schools for this important program,” said John Young, agricultural commissioner for Yolo County. “Yolo County wrote the mandate of providing healthy produce to schools into its general plan, and we are fortunate to be able to take advantage of our county’s agriculture bounty to create lifelong healthy eating habits.”

To read the Farm To School article and listen to the Capital Radio documentary, visit

For more information on Harvest of the Month, visit and

The Harvest of the Month launch coincides with National Farm to School month. Visit to find additional resources and materials.

August 22, 2012

Saving Tomato Seeds


In this small handful of organic heirloom-tomato seeds, I hold both a bit of history and of future promise.  I am holding a piece of the plants I once nurtured and the ones I will tend next season.  The seeds came from the fruit of one season's work and will grow into the fruit shared from another.

As an organic farmer, I can't help but be impressed by the natural world around us and this connection to the heirloom crops of years ago. 


Yes!  Heirloom tomatoes are self-pollinating and true breeding, allowing you to save seed and grow the same plant again year after year. This attribute is a rarity in the modern world of hybrid varieties bred for disease resistance, uniform size and long shelf life.


In our first tests, we tried small batches of 20 tomatoes.  The resulting germination rate was very good, 97%, with each tomato yielding 150 seeds or so. 



Here's our Vintage Wine tomato seed-saving story and how you can can save tomato seeds for planting another season. 

Step One: Cut mature, very ripe tomatoes in half and squeeze the seed and juice into a container.

Here we cut 2 pallets of very ripe Vintage Wine tomatoes, about 900 lbs. of fruit, into large buckets. 



Step Two: Let the seed and soup juice sit for a few days. Your container will come to life and bubble with yeasts and other microbes at work during the fermentation process. Fermentation is good - it kills disease causing bacteria and harmful fungi, as well as digests the gelatinous, anti-germination coating that surrounds each seed.

Pictured above is approximately 70 gallons of soup!



Step Three: Thoroughly rinse the seed clean, and let it dry very well. Keep the seed dry while in storage.

Here we have a pound and a half of seed, which is enough to plant 20 or 30 acres of tomato plants!


Step Four:  Plant the seeds the following spring! If you select the year’s best fruits and grow their seeds next year, your plant population will be more strongly adapted to your area. Progress with each repetition!

See seed name listed as “Capay 1.”  These are the seeds we saved, now all grown up. They were made out of Capay’s air, soil and water and have gone another season in those same elements.  

August 17, 2012

Summer Special - Gravenstein Apples

Guest Blog Post and Recipes by Georgeanne Brennan
Article previously featured in Edible Marin and Wine Country Magazine, reprinted here with permission.  Chutney recipe from Brennan's The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook

Fall Fruit Chutney Recipe from the Davis Farmers Market Cookbook
Fruit Chutney with Stonefruit and Apples (recipe below)

Every season produces something unique, unavailable at any other time of the year, and in summer in our area, one of those is the Gravenstein apple. The Gravenstein is an apple so notable for its flavor that it has been declared to be a heritage food by Slow Food USA, but unfortunately, one in danger of disappearing. The largest United States planting of the Gravenstein is around the town of Sebastopol, but the quantity is much diminished from years past, when the variety dominated the substantial apple production in Sonoma County.

Like so many other flavorful fruits and vegetables, the Gravenstein doesn’t hold well in storage, nor does it ship well, and consequently it has been dropped by many large buyers and shippers in favor of sturdier fruits.  Only in recent years are we discovering the loss to both our agricultural heritage and to our tables of many of the old-fashioned or heirloom fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, dedicated farmers are bringing them back into production with the hope that educated consumers, looking for true taste and flavor, will seek out and buy these special fruits and vegetables. 

The Gravenstein, thought to have been brought to the area by Russian settlers and fur traders around the first part of the 19th century, certainly fits this description.

It has true apple flavor, balanced between slightly sweet and acidic, with a juicy crunch that, to my thinking, is the essence of a good apple. It’s a lovely waxy green, with red striations, or sometimes pure red, and one of its many virtues is that it is equally good eaten out of hand, cooked, or turned into cider.  The Gravenstein season is short, essentially July and August, so plan ahead, and make sure you get your fill of one of California’s finest fruits.

My son, recently back from Bulgaria, where any fruit with sugar was considered worthy of turning into rakia, is promising to make some with Gravenstein apples this year. His navel orange rakia was a stunning success and we’re looking forward to the apple version. For me, I’ll stick to eating them out of hand or frying them with onions to serve with sausages.

Fried Apples, Onions, and Sausages

Featured in Edible Marin and Wine Country Magazine
by Georgeanne Brennan

2 tablespoons butter
4 Gravenstein apples, cored and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
1 large onion, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 fennel or other favorite sausage

Heat the butter over medium heat in a large frying pan. When it foams, add the apples and sauté until the underside is golden, about 7 minutes. Turn, add the onions to the pan and continue to sauté until the second side of the apples is golden and the onions are limp and golden, another, 5 minutes or so. While the apples and onions are cooking, cook the sausages in your favorite fashion.

Serve the hot sausages accompanied by the hot apples and onions.
Serves 4 

Fall Fruit Chutney

Featured in The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook
by Georgeanne Brennan and Ann M. Evans

2 pounds stone fruit such as plums, nectarines, pluots, chopped  coarsely
1 pound apples, chopped coarsely
1/2 pound yellow onion, chopped coarsely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced, about 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 green jalapeño pepper, seeded, chopped finely
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Combine all ingredients in a large, heavy metal pan such as a Dutch oven. Bring mixture to a boil. Turn heat to low and cook mixture until all ingredients are soft and blended, about 3 hours. Mix frequently toward the end to prevent burning.

Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick.

To can, place lids with rubber seal into a small sauce pan with about 1 cup of boiling water in it. Soften the lids for about 2 minutes, and turn off heat. Ladle the hot mixture into sterilized pint jars, filling up to ½ - ¼ inch below the top. With a clean cloth, wipe the rim of the jar so that it is clean. Place lid on the rim of the jar. Screw on the ring, fairly tight. Place in a water-bath canner with water covering the jars by about 1-2 inches. Bring water to a boil. Process in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water. Let cool. You should hear a popping sound as this occurs. Prior to putting away the chutney, check each seal by pressing down on the lid. It should not give. Label with name of product and date made.

Makes 2-3 pints

Georgeanne Brennan is an award-winning cookbook author, journalist, and food policy consultant with a distinguished culinary and business career spanning several decades. As a principal of Evans & Brennan, LLC , she has been working over the past several years piloting professional development with the Davis JUSD, focusing specifically on enhancing the skills and creativity of the nutrition services staff using the 6-5-4 School Lunch Matrix. The author of more than 30 books on cooking and food, and a cooking school owner and teacher, she brings her considerable expertise to Rethinking School Lunch in rural and urban settings.

August 15, 2012

Gravenstein Apples - A Labor of Love

Gravenstein Apples

"It has often been said that if the Gravenstein could be had throughout the year,
no other apple need be grown."
 – Luther Burbank, horticulturist and ag science pioneer

As you peek into your Farm Fresh To You boxes this week, you'll find a special summer treat worth saving and savoring! Gravensteins, highly treasured heirloom apples, are crisp, juicy and delicious, and yet for many reasons, are in danger of becoming extinct.

Gravenstein Apples

In the era of big ag and convenience growing, the Gravenstein became an endangered species. The Slow Food movement took up the cause of “saving” the Gravenstein by encouraging restaurants and retailers to buy this heritage apple and by designating this variety an Ark of Taste food, “a catalog of 200 delicious foods in danger of extinction.” Slow Food also established a Presidium that “works to promote and protect farmers who nurture their apples from tree to table.”

In 2011, an article about Gravensteins in The New York Times summarized it nicely, “Like all classic heroes, however, the Gravenstein has a fatal flaw — or two. The apple ripens earlier than most, but does not travel or age well, unlike big-time brands like the Red Delicious, meaning that getting them to distant markets can be a challenge.”

Gravenstein Apples

We could not be more proud to partner with farmer John Kolling of Solana Gold Organics, whose extreme dedication and care for the Gravenstein has fulfilled our dream of finding enough of these rare apples that we are finally able to share them with you, our CSA members!

Interesting Facts from John about his "Gravs":

  • His “Gravs” come from many trees that are over 100 years old, with 30-foot canopies. 
  • He purposely doesn’t irrigate because forcing the trees to seek moisture builds character, crunch and intensifies aroma and flavor.
  • Gravs need to be hand-picked very carefully as they bruise easily in every color stage. 
  • The apple's skin color progresses seven different times over the life of the apple. It starts off a bright lime green then transitions to a medium orange color with faded red over-markings.
  • Gravenstein trees have three sets of chromosomes instead of the usual two, making the trees very large compared to other apple trees. Crutches are used to support the weight of their branches.

Gravenstein Apples
Due to an extra set of chromosomes, large Gravenstein trees often have to use crutches
to support the weight of their branches.

Gravensteins were first planted in California by Russian traders in the early 19th century and for over 100 years, they have found their home in Sebastopol. In addition to Sonoma County, this apple does well in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia.

Gravenstein Apples

What makes Gravenstein apples so unique?

  • Perfectly balanced flavor - sweet and tart!
  • Versatile fruit - great for cooking and baking.
  • Aromatic - sweet, floral smell
  • Early bloomers - these apples are some of the first of the season, and are harvested in July and August.
  • Passionate followers - There is a high demand for the apples and major supportive groups and events such as Slow Food, Apple Blossom Festival, Gravenstein Apple Fair.

Reasons why Gravensteins are on the endangered list:

  • Tall trees - difficult to reach the apples that are on the tallest parts of the trees.
  • Short, weak stems - causes apples to fall from the tree prematurely.
  • Diminishing farm land - higher demand and higher profit margin for wine grapes or real estate.
  • Uncertain harvest cycles and short shelf-life.
Gravenstein Apples
John Kolling takes us out into his orchard. You can tell how much we love his trees too!

Gravensteins, both sweet and tart, are great for eating raw, making applesauce and cider, and of course, baking in a pie. They are also known to make a delicious vinegar. The apple is crispy, juicy and aromatic.

We could not share these apples without the amazing work of John Kolling and his farm, Solana Gold Organics.  A big thank you to John for his labor of love! 

July 31, 2012

Coming Back & Catching Capay Tomato!

As you'd imagine, we've gathered some great memories from farm events over the years. What you might not know is that it's the stories shared by those who visit, by many of you, that really allow us to experience the event in a whole new way - that make the very best stories.

Here's one such story shared with us by Nicola, on her own blog Growing Berries, and graciously reposted here so we could share it with all of you! 

Farm Fresh 1

By Nicola of Growing Berries
We have just returned to France, where we are living for a couple of years, after a four week visit to our home in California. When we first arrived back in the United States, for the home visit it seemed like we had so much time stretching ahead of us and I expected we would fill much of it doing some of the touristy things we never got around to whilst living here, like visiting Alcatraz or walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in its 75th anniversary year. The four weeks flew by though and those activities will have to stay on our bucket list as we chose to spend our time staying local, near friends and our favorite swimming pool, with my older daughters attending camps and more sleepovers than we could count!

On our final weekend though, we did fulfill a long held desire to attend the Tomato Festival, at Capay Farm. We started getting a Farm Fresh to You box about four years ago and it completely changed the way we ate. I already loved cooking at home, but starting our menu planning with the vegetables we had available rather than the meat seemed to be a much healthier approach and never quite knowing which seasonal vegetables were going to turn up in our box really got the whole family trying new foods on a weekly basis.

We had attended lots of open days at the farm in every season whilst we lived here, but the heirloom tomato festival in the summer never seemed to fall at a good time for us. This year though we finally made it with our good friends who share our love for the contents of those boxes.

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The farm is about an hour and a half's drive north of our home in the East Bay and looked so green and pretty in the perfect weather that blessed the day of the festival. Tractor rides took visitors around the fields, filled at this time of year with summer squash and asparagus.

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There were plenty of activities for the little ones. Arts and crafts, hula hoops, herb salt making and my daughter Florence's favourite...

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The main event though was the Heirloom Tomato Tasting.

Not only did the family who run Capay Organic pioneer organic farming in the region, farmer's markets and fresh produce delivery, they also reintroduced heirloom tomatoes to our table. Here's how...

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What a great story!

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Now, although those organic boxes have got my kids eating carrots, pistachios, spinach and even kale, my eldest daughters, India, Georgia and Savannah still maintain that they hate tomatoes and cannot usually be persuaded to eat them. I think they may have been converted though after this weekend. All three girls tried and liked the huge variety of tomatoes on offer.

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Someone who doesn't need any persuading to eat a tomato though is Florence. She adores them and she was in tomato tasting heaven here.

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The party continued with live music.

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Just a few more tomatoes.

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And dancing.

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A wonderful day out in the fresh air with good food, great company and more tomatoes than you can eat.

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Miam! Miam!
Thank you again to Nicola and be sure to check out her blog for more amazing photos and tales of her family's adventures.

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