November 1, 2013

Remembering Ché

In front of the farm house is a black granite pyramid. Bolted to the top of it is a rusted ornamental metal bar, looping upward toward the sky. Attached to the end of this bar is a metal Pitts S1A bi-plane positioned as if it were going to buzz the farm house.

Your Farm News in Photos - Remembering Che

Our brother Ché buzzed the farm house, farm tractors and farm tours as often as he could, in that plane or whatever plane he was piloting at the time. We always loved it - who doesn’t love being buzzed by an aircraft? The rattling of the house that sent us running outside, the roar of the engine we felt on the second pass-by, waving with both arms in excitement, and the feeling of freedom evoked by a fly-by never got old.
Your Farm News in Photos - Remembering Che

Etched into the black granite is a photo of our older brother Ché Jeremy Barnes and the story of the evening of October 29, 2009, when he was dispatched as the pilot in command of a Coast Guard Search and Rescue C-130 from Sacramento. He and his crew of six flew CG 1705 south to search for a missing boater who was last seen off the coast of San Diego. The search area was in the military training zone W-291.

While searching, CG 1705 was struck by a Marine AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter that was flying a night-vision training mission in a pattern with three other Marine helicopters. 

The last words recorded by the black box of CG 1705 were Ché’s voice giving a calm, but direct order to his co-pilot to "Climb up, dude." To this day, that location in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, marks the resting spot of the aircrafts and their combined crews of nine.

Your Farm News in Photos - Remembering Che

The incident reminds me how close northern and southern California are. We share the same search and rescue resources, the same water resources and are separated by less than a work day in a vehicle or a long lunch in a jet.

It reminds our company of the importance of safety and the reality that huge accidents are never attributed to one single thing. Big accidents are the result of many small things, all of which are no issue independent of each other, until they line up perfectly to deliver a huge accident.

It is for this reason that safety, physical and food, must be approached with the understanding that the many small and subtle details of an operation’s behavior are required to avert disasters.
Your Farm News in Photos - Remembering Che

Our farm misses Ché dearly, his enthusiasm for a quality product being rewarded by the market place, his genuine appreciation for being true to the cause of our parents’ movement, his inquisitiveness into important details and above all his loving friendship and encouragement through hard and fun times.

Your Farm News in Photos - Remembering Che

Your Farm News in Photos - Remembering Che

Your Farm News in Photos - Remembering Che

Saying Goodbye to Che's Pitts
Saying Goodbye to Ché's Pitts

Thank you to everyone who shared their well wishes and joined us in remembering Ché. We consider you, our CSA community, part of our extended family.

October 14, 2013

The Essential Good Food Guide Book Giveaway!

The Essential Good Food Guide Book Giveaway
Photo credit: Jennifer Martiné

“At last we have Margaret Wittenberg to answer our most basic questions about any food we see: ‘What is it? and ‘What do I do with it?’ The Essential Good Food Guide is an extraordinarily comprehensive guide to foods, ingredients, and their handling.  Sophisticated cooks as well as beginners will be grateful to have this indispensable book at hand.” - Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat

The Essential Good Food Guide by Margaret M. Wittenberg is your one-stop resource for purchasing, storing, cooking and enjoying whole foods. From uncommon ingredient profiles to clarifying confusing food labels, Wittenberg skillfully educates consumers on where their food comes from, making it easier to determine healthier options.
The Essential Good Food Guide Book Giveaway
“Rather than being about what foods to avoid and why, The Essential Good Food Guide is an introduction or a reminder of what good food is and what to do with it.” - Margaret M. Wittenberg, The Essential Good Food Guide 

Margaret helps explain common misperceptions about everyday items, allowing you to maximize the benefits of whole foods cooking. This book is more than a guide; it is an encyclopedia and your new kitchen companion. We are thrilled to give away this informative book to one of you!   

The Essential Good Food Guide Book Giveaway
Photo credit: Kathy Weigand Photography
Margaret M. Wittenberg is a well-known authority and educator on natural and organic foods with more than thirty-five years of experience. She is a former member of the USDA National Organic Standards Board and has served on many other boards directed on organic agriculture, seafood sustainability, agricultural environmental standards, and farm animal welfare.  
We're so happy to announce we have a copy of this amazing
book to give away to one of you!
Here's How to Enter – (Giveaway is now closed)
To win a copy of The Essential Good Food Guide, simply leave a comment below answering this question by Tuesday, October 29, 2013 (one entry per person please).

If you could ask Margaret to share her insider's knowledge
about one particular ingredient, what would it be?
No purchase required. Limit one entry per person, please. Entries will close on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 8:00 am. Winners are chosen by Random Number Generator and announced on our blog on Tuesday, October 29, 2013.
Thank you to everyone who participated! It is very exciting to read your questions and see how many of you are provoking a food dialogue!

We have chosen a winner:
The winner chosen at random is Paul Picard who asked:
Is the nutritional benefit of young tender asparagus better than more mature asparagus? What are some of your favorite ways of serving this vegetable?

Congratulations Paul Picard!
A big thank you to again to Margaret M. Wittenberg!

Be sure to check out The Essential Good Food Guide.

September 20, 2013

Kathleen Barsotti Non-Profit for Sustainable Agriculture

Kathy Barsotti
Kathleen Barsotti

Our parents started our farm in 1976 with a vision and passion for organic and sustainable agriculture that led them to become early pioneers in this movement. In 1992, our mother, Kathleen Barsotti, founded Farm Fresh To You, our Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) service, delivering farm-fresh, local, organic produce to homes and offices in California. It was her belief that an important part of sustainable agriculture is connecting people to the land that grows their food.

Color KBNP Logo

After a courageous nine-year battle with breast cancer, our mother passed away in 2000. As a way to honor her memory, the Kathleen Barsotti Non-Profit for Sustainable Agriculture (KBNP) was created in 2009. The goal of the non-profit is to promote the method of agriculture that Kathleen supported, a method that preserves the land for future generations, protects the people who work on the farm and contributes to the local economy.


Capay Tomato 2010 004Cropped
College Scholarship Awards
In 2009, the Kathleen Barsotti Non-Profit began its activities by awarding a $500 scholarship to a young student planning to study agriculture and promote sustainable practices after graduation. This scholarship has been awarded to a new student every year since.

collage for KBNP blog

As it was always very important to Kathleen to give back to the farm-worker community, one of the goals of KBNP is to increase the resources that are available to farm workers and their families.

Our additional programs include providing backpacks filled with school supplies to children of farm workers, providing a yearly college scholarship to a young-adult with ambitions of working in sustainable agriculture, supporting English-as-a-second-language classes for farm workers, and educating the public on the importance of sustainable farms.

School Supplies and Backpack Program


Each year, the farm in Capay has three special events that bring our various communities together at the Capay Organic/Farm Fresh To You farm to enjoy live music, fantastic local food and an opportunity to meet their farmer and connect with the land that grows their food. Our events are another way that we raise awareness and support for KBNP.

Silent Auction at our Capay Tomato event.
This year, we added Seasonal Farm-to-Fork Dinners to our line up of special events. These dinners have provided a unique experience to sit down with farmer and chef, enjoy a meal together and share about the mutual passion for sustainable and organic practices.

Seasonal Dinner with Farmer & Chef
Seasonal Farm-to-Fork Dinner at Mulvaney's B&L Restaurant.

These events have allowed us to provide more education and support than ever before!  But there's something else that happened this year that stole our hearts and show us that our mother's life work and dreams are taking root and growing!

This year we promoted our annual backpack/school supplies drive in our newsletter and on our Farm Fresh To You Facebook page and you, our community reached back with an outpouring of over $3,800 from these efforts alone!

Together, this year we were able to receive and fill over 600 backpack requests from farm workers both at our farm and local partner farms in northern and southern California!

We are so honored by the outpouring of generosity from our CSA community.  Whether it's being part of our family farm, a CSA member or by attending our events, thank you - thank you for supporting our non-profit and a better way of farming!

August 12, 2013

Cookbook Giveaway - Root-to-Stalk Cooking

Root-To-Stalk Cooking Giveaway

Photo credit: Clay McLachlan

Root-to-Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable by Tara Duggan is all about making the most of your produce. If you've ever wondered what to do with carrot tops, broccoli stalks, potato peels and pea pods, this cookbook offers instruction on how to transform trimmings into delicious meals.
"This is a wonderful, forward-looking book. It's not only filled with fantastic recipes that you can cook by rote, but also with new ways of looking at your ingredients. It will make any one's cooking more efficient and, most importantly, more delicious."

- Daniel Patterson, chef-owner of COI restaurant
Root to Stalk Cookbook Giveaway
Photo credit: Clay McLachlan

Root-to-Stalk Cooking is a newly released cookbook featuring more than 65 delicious recipes that make use of the parts of vegetables that typically get thrown away. The cookbook has gorgeous photos and creative tips for making the most of seasonal ingredients. We're excited to give away this beautiful cookbook to one of our CSA members!

Root-To-Stalk Cooking Giveaway
Photo credit: Clay McLachlan
 "My own love of vegetables grew when I became a staff food writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, where I’ve had the opportunity to interview countless chefs and farmers who share a passion—sometimes extreme—for vegetables."
- Tara Duggan, Root-to-Stalk Cooking 
Tara Duggan is a James Beard award-winning journalist and cookbook author. She has written for The San Francisco Chronicle since 1999, and has published work in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, Toronto Star, Shape, California and The Bay Citizen. As a food writer and recipe developer, she covers home cooking, restaurants, food trends, sustainable agriculture and food policy, all with a Northern California focus.

We're so happy to announce we have a copy of
this amazing cookbook to give away to one of you!

Here's How to Enter – (Givaway is now closed)

To win a copy of Tara Duggan's Root-to-Stalk Cooking cookbook, simply leave a comment below answering this question by Tuesday, August 27th (one entry per person please).

How do you get creative with your vegetable excess?

No purchase required. Limit one entry per person, please. Entries will close on Tuesday, August 27th, at 8:00 am. Winners are chosen by Random Number Generator and announced on our blog on Tuesday, August 27th.

Thank you to everyone who participated!
 It is very encouraging to read your comments and see how many of you are trading ideas and inspiring one another! Thank you - thank you! 

We have chosen a winner:
The winner chosen at random is: Annie Lee who wrote:
The obviously not-edible parts (molded, hard stem of certain veggies, super wilted or dried) get composted. Everything else that looks a bit sad is stir-fried, baked, or turned into soup. The super fresh veggies are usually eaten raw in salads.

Congratulations Annie Lee!
A big thank you to again to Tara Duggan!

Be sure to check out Root-to-Stalk Cooking, The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable.

July 31, 2013

The Great Gravenstein Apple

Gravenstein Apples

Coming your way for a very limited time – 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. To read more about why they are on the Slow Food Ark of Taste’s list of foods in danger of extinction, see last year’s blog post Gravenstein Apples - A Labor of Love.

Gravenstein Apples

We are excited to partner with farmer John Kolling of Solana Gold Organics again this year. We admire his extreme dedication and care for the Gravenstein and his ability to fulfill our dream of finding enough of these rare apples to share with you, our CSA members!

Gravenstein Apples

We learned a few new facts from John during our visit to his orchard:
  • The Gravenstein is a “variable harvest” apple, meaning the apples do not ripen at the same time. They start off a bright lime green then transition to a medium orange color with faded red over-markings and then to a rich red. On a single tree, you might notice a variety of seven different colorations. As they mature the flavors become less acidic and a bit sweeter.
Gravenstein Apples
  • Some of John’s trees are well over 100 years old, planted in the late 1800s. He has been tending to these orchards since the late 1970s.
  • John grows on 81 very small parcels all over Sebastopol (in Sonoma County) tending to many different varieties of apple.
  • Because this year is a heavy year for the fruit, the apples tend to be smaller.
  • He says that this time of year is not a good time to sleep in the orchards because the apples fall randomly and make the night seem long!
Gravenstein Apples

Gravenstein apples are more on the tart side, yet are sweet enough to eat out of hand. They are valued for their crisp and juicy flesh, sweet-tart juice and unique aroma of sweet honey and floral tones. They are perfect for baking because they hold their shape well. Their flavor intensifies when cooked – which also makes them great for applesauce or cider.

Gravenstein Apples

The Gravenstein is delicate and quite perishable, which is one reason why they are only available for a short period of time. They also do not store well, so be sure to enjoy your apples within a week of receiving them.

Gravenstein Apples

We hope you enjoy these precious, heritage apples. Thank you again to farmer John Kolling and Solana Gold Organics for providing these sweet treasures with us again this year!

Gravenstein Apples

July 23, 2013

A Big Thank You!

Thank You!
Click Image to Enlarge
We cannot give enough thanks to these folks, our CSA members and local community for making our 6th Capay Tomato Festival our best yet!  Thanks to you this event raised over $5,500 for the Kathleen Barsotti Non-Profit for Sustainable Agriculture.

Please use the links below to check out some of the organizations, bands and delectable food artisans that made our Capay Tomato guests merry, deliciously content and informed!  Those with websites are linked.
Eloté Corn
Face Painting by Maria Galloway 
All the Kathleen Barsotti Non-Profit Silent Auction Donors!!
Tacos Jose Maria

June 28, 2013

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Outstanding in the Field 2013

If I had to pick one moment (of which there are many) when you can't help but absorb why this event is deservedly named "Outstanding," I would say it's when you get your first glimpse of the table from a distance.

Outstanding in the Field 2013

It becomes something so much more than a vast line of tables filled with laughing, deliciously contented people — it becomes a moment of community — and for me, it's what makes tending this land so rewarding.

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Since you hear from me every week in Farm News, I thought you might like to hear from the community, the many folks who made this event a success.  Here's a little of what other people said about the event.

Although our farm had been chosen for an Outstanding in the Field event last year, this was my first experience.

Outstanding in the Field 2013
I knew what the basic plan for the day was, but sitting in the accommodating shade of an old oak tree before everyone arrived, I found it was a little hard to wrap my head around the sheer force that would make this all happen.

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Even now, after the event, I can still say that I am impressed — no, change that to blown away — by the magnitude of everything; from set up...

Outstanding in the Field 2013 cooking...

Outstanding in the Field 2013 speeches...

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Outstanding in the Field 2013 good old-fashioned revelry.
Outstanding in the Field 2013

I heard that last year Jim Denevan, founder and organizer of Outstanding in the Field, walked through our orchards to find just the right row for our dinner spot, settling between two different varieties of figs, Mission and Capay Candystripe. This year, he again spent time connecting with the farm, being chill and finding the perfect location. (If you look closely at the photo below, you'll find him sitting at the far end of the table under the shade of the oak tree.)
Outstanding in the Field 2013

Once Jim gave the final word, I can't express how quickly the tables came out and chairs were unfolded to follow the curve of our land — impressively close to the edge of our upper bank.

The tables, skirted in white linen, snake along the curves of a grassy hillock at Capay Organic.

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Thankfully, they are shaded from the sun by oak trees and hold enough chairs to seat all 176 of us. Every nearby plant — heirloom tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, lavender — are bursting with come-hither colors.

Outstanding in the Field 2013

And, at last, we feast on one fresh, playful course after another from Chef Oliver Ridgeway of The Grange.

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Outstanding in the Field? One visit reveals just how much that title fits this land so lovingly tended by the Barnes-Barsotti family.

Outstanding in the Field 2013

This is what we do every night at the restaurant — we cook with fresh, local ingredients and celebrate the farm-to-table concept by supporting local farms — but to come out to the farm is real treat.

One of the funny moments was watching the extern Chris that we brought with us, hand pulling mozzarella at the reception. (The cheese was really hot to handle but he kept smiling!)

Outstanding in the Field 2013

 The super moon was awesome.

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Outstanding in the Field 2013
We served ice cream in a field!  

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Everyone could see us cooking live and we had a lot of interaction with the guests as we cooked.

Outstanding in the field was a perfect setting for our wines to be paired with delicious food, gorgeous agriscape and great people.

Outstanding in the Field 2013

Outstanding in the Field 2013