Food for Thought!
If you are a parent reading this then you can probably relate to what I am about to say…raising kids is the greatest challenge of my life! My wife and I are raising two wonderful kids, ages 10 and 12, and not a day goes by without us stressing over some facet of parenthood. Our ongoing stresses include amount of screen time they have, encouraging them to talk vs text, how to be a good friend, and how to do your best in school. Often these turn into battles ripe with arguments and punishments as our pre-teens jockey for stronger positions. I am sure some of you can relate. Believe it or not, instilling knowledge in our kids of where our food comes from has been one of the lessons that our entire family has enjoyed learning. This has resulted in some pretty memorable adventures including a farmstay in Pennsylvania, a birthday celebration at a goat farm, and our own urban agricultural adventures; raising chickens and vegetables in our backyard. Recently we had the opportunity to visit two Northern California farms with distinctly different missions.
Farm Fresh To You – Capay Organics
For about a year now our family has really enjoyed receiving our CSA box of fruits and vegetables from an organization called Farm Fresh to You. If you live in Northern California you have probably seen them at farmers markets or know someone that is part of their CSA. Every other week we receive a box full of freshly picked items with dirt still clinging from roots, beautiful in their imperfections, and still smelling of the farm…in a really good way though. All traits typically washed or hybridized out of our store bought produce in the effort to create pretty and transportable produce often at the sacrifice of taste. I promise I am not going to preach here! With an open weekend and a desire to learn more about the farm where our food comes from, we set out for their first open farm tour of the season.
If you haven’t been to the Capay Valley I would highly recommend the visit. It is a rich fertile valley along the banks of Cache Creek. North of Winters, Highway 16 links several small towns leading to Clear Lake including Esparto, Capay, and Guinda to name a few. The drive was beautiful and the heavy winter rains resulted in spectacular green hills and a heavy flow on Cache Creek. The farm itself is outside of Capay and is still run by the same family since the 1970’s. Our time there was spent talking to the 4H club and petting their collection of animals, taking a tractor tour of the fields, and learning more about the farm’s partners of local producers of honey, coffee, and even artisanal marshmallows of all things. We even got to pick some green garlic to cook with at home and plant seeds of pumpkin and beans.
Next on our tour was Slide Ranch. Perched upon a windswept cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and just outside of Muir Woods sits Slide Ranch. Started back in 1970, and touting Jerry Garcia as one of the original donors, Slide Ranch has striven to connect children to nature. Throughout the year Slide Ranch provides programming for schools, camps, and occasionally opens their door for community events, such as the Spring Fling event our family participated in. Throughout the morning our kids were exposed to the farm, interacted with their volunteers and live-in teachers (yes they get to live on-site), sampled great tasting food (much sourced from the farm), made farm cheese, cleaned wool, pet chickens and goats, and squished mud and seed together to make their very own seed bombs (kaboom!).
While we know we have long road ahead of us raising our children and making sure we do it right, we definitely feel we nailed this lesson (score one for the parents!) and look forward to many more food adventures. Now we can move on to the next challenge…the teenage years! …wish me luck
Brian Fletcher, President, Parent, Food Enthusiast