March 4, 2011
This is the Weekly E-letter of the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture
Special Events and Announcements
Introduction to Sausage Making with Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats ~ April 1
Have you ever wanted to learn to make sausage? Now is your chance! Join Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats in the Macy’s Cellar in Union Square for a hands-on introduction to sausage making. Participants will learn to make three different types of pork sausage. Farr will show what cuts of meat are best for lip-smacking links, demonstrate how to grind, season and stuff the meat, and offer recipes for serving the finished product. Light appetizers will be provided and all participants will take home a few pounds of sausage. The class is limited to 15 participants, so everyone has ample time to ask questions and leave feeling confident in their newfound sausage-making skills. Reserve a spot.
Rum, Rum History, and Rum Cocktails ~ March 26
Learn to make rum-based cocktails in the next in our series of hands-on classes with Scott Beattie, author of Artisanal Cocktails. Scott will be joined by Dominic Venegas, one of the Bay Area’s most experienced and knowledgeable bartenders and a spokesperson for Appleton Rum. Venegas just left the helm at the new San Francisco tiki-bar, Smuggler’s Cove, and he will be bringing some fantastic recipes for everyone to try, including the classic Mai Tai, the Millionaire, and many more. The class include a short “Cocktails 101” demo helpful tipss, like how to properly shake and stir (and the reasons why you would do either). The class takes place in the CUESA kitchen and is part of a 5-part series co-sponsored by CUESA. Buy tickets.
American Wasteland Talk at the Commonwealth Club ~ MondayAmericans generate enough food waste to fill the Rose Bowl each day. How sustainable can that be? What is the economic and environmental cost of such a system? The panel will discuss the life cycle of our food — from farm to table — and the opportunity for more efficient production and distribution. Speakers include Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, Michael Dimock, president of Roots of Change, and A.G. Kawamura, former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Reserve a spot
Politics of the Palate: Vanilla, Saffron, and Chocolate ~ March 16
Beyond the silky sexiness of the food essentials vanilla, saffron, coffee and chocolate, there lies a world of political intrigue. Join "Vanilla Queen" Patricia Rain; Juan San Mames, Saffron King; Mark Magers of Divine Chocolate; and Janet Fletcher as moderator, for a surprising and sometimes shocking look at the political, cultural and environmental issues behind each of these crops. The event includes tastings featuring these exotic ingredients and takes place at 6:30 pm at the Unitarian Church in San Francisco. Reserve a spot.
An Evening With Michael Pollan: The Sun Food Agenda ~ March 24
By replacing the energy of the sun with energy from fossil fuels, industrial agriculture has made food impressively cheap and abundant. But this achievement has come at a cost. Today, our food system is implicated in three of the most critical problems facing our society: the energy crisis, the climate crisis, and the health care crisis. None of these problems can be addressed without reforming the way America eats. In this inspiring multimedia presentation, Michael Pollan will connect the dots between food and health (personal as well as environmental), and introduce us to some of the visionaries who are “resolarizing” the food system. Proceeds from a private pre-talk event will support Marin Organic. Learn more.
Urban Agriculture Zoning Changes Might be on the Way
Urban agriculture advocates showed up in droves at a recent meeting of the SF Planning Commission to support proposed changes to the city's zoning laws that would make small-scale commercial farming in SF affordable and possible to undertake in residential neighborhoods. After a crowded hearing, and over an hour of positive testimony, the Planning Commission voted to support the proposal; now it only has to pass before the Board of Supervisors before it can take effect. Stay tuned! Read an account of the hearing on Mission Local.
Agriculture Spending Cuts
The House of Representatives recently approved a bill that would slash more than $60 billion from the federal budget for the last half of fiscal year 2011. The bill (H.R. 1) targets programs that serve sustainable and organic farmers and makes steep cuts in agricultural research, extension services and farm credit. It also cuts funding mandated in the 2008 Farm Bill for conservation and would terminate programs that serve beginning and minority farmers without making any cuts to commodity crop subsidies. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is urging sustainable farming advocates to contact their senators.
Programs in the Market
Saturday, March 5 ~ Market to Table
11:00 am - Seasonal cooking demonstration
Tuesday, March 8 ~ Food Wise Booth
12:30 'til whenever the food runs out - Amy Fothergill, the Family Chef, will give out recipe cards and samples of a simple meal made with market ingredients. She'll also be on hand to offer advice for all your seasonal meal planning.
Saturday, March 12 ~ Market to Table
11:00 am - Seasonal cooking demonstration
Frost in the Trees
“Things don’t look good for my apricots,” said Victor Martino of Bella Viva Orchards on the phone recently. Last week the temperature dropped down into the upper 20s in the Modesto area, where Martino’s orchards are, and he’s waiting to see just how severe the frost damage has been.
In many ways, this is a typical California winter for stone fruit growers — if by typical you mean impossible to predict. Martino won't know the fate of his crops until the flowers in his 20-acre apricot orchard start to fall off the boughs; if just the petals fall, the fruit will remain intact, but if the whole flower falls off, the crop will be small to non-existent. Many orchardists use sprinklers to mitigate freezes when it gets cold, but Bella Viva uses flood irrigation for their apricots, and Martino says there wasn’t enough water available to him that week to use for that purpose.
This is the time of year when stone fruit trees start to bloom (almonds come first and cherries are the last to bloom but the first to fruit; see the chart below for more details), and all the blossoms are susceptible to freezing weather. Martino says he's seen frost as late as the last week of April; when it arrives it is an especially cruel contrast to a month that is generally pretty warm otherwise.
“It’s those first two weeks of April we have to be really careful about," he says. "It gets beautiful out and you say, ‘let’s go to Disneyland.’ I did that one year and I learned my lesson. Fruit farmers can’t leave town in April.”
Hail can also arrive through mid-May and Martino says there’s no real way to protect the trees when it hits. But it can fall in small patches, so having more than one location, like Bella Viva does, can certainly help save part of the crop. Overall, growing stone fruit is a big gamble. “Even if you lose your crop, you still have to take care of the trees throughout the rest of the growing season,” says Martino. "You’ll drive out to the orchards and say to the trees, 'you didn’t give me any fruit, and I still have to give you water!'”
Singin’ in the Rain
Rain poses its own set of problems for stone fruit growers. Take Bill Crepps of Everything Under the Sun, who is waiting to see whether his small orchard of Royal Blenheim apricot trees will be impacted by brown rot this spring. “The buds had just started to push during a really rainy week,” he says. He is also quick to point out that his Blenheims are “older than I am — almost ready to retire,” and older trees tend to be less resistant to disease.
Bill sprays with liquid copper fungicide (one of few options for organic and ecologically oriented fruit tree farmers), but it only protects the leaves it’s covering at the moment — in other words, it doesn’t work on a systemic level like conventional fungicides. So if it rains or if the tree sends out new blossoms, the copper spray has to be re-applied.
Brown rot can ruin crop, and because the affected trees need to be pruned way back, the next year’s round of fruit is often lost. This is the third year in a row that Bill has seen rain fall during the bloom time. “Of course,” he says, “one of the great ironies of growing fruit is that if it doesn’t rain, too much fruit will set and you have to go out to the orchards and thin it out.”
From the Bella Viva Orchard website. See the original
This is the most up-to-date information about which sellers will be attending the market as of today. If there are no changes to a seller's status, they will not be listed. You'll find a list of which farmers regularly attend each market here. Please understand that there are often last-minute changes — it's the nature of farming!
Saturday, March 5
Returning: Downtown Bakery, Flatland Flower Farm, Namu, Noe Valley Bakery, Rancho Gordo, Rose Pistola Cafe, Tell Tale Preserves, Tory Farms (their last Saturday til stone fruit season)
Tuesday, March 8no changes
Thursday, March 10
Returning: Zuckerman's Farms
Returning and plentiful this month (weather willing):
Farms that will be returning this month (weather willing):
Featured Recipes for March
Warm Mushroom Salad from cookbook author Joyce Goldstein
Escarole & Cannelini Zuppa from Christophe Hille of A16
Tea Sandwich: Minted Pea Puree, Lemon Quark and Radish from CUESA's market chef, Sarah Henkin
Handmade Cavatelli with Smoked Bacon, Chanterelles, Green Garlic and Grana Padano from Cory Obenour and Matt Sullivan of The Blue Plate
Photo of Steehead appetizer by Barry Jan
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