Monday, December 22, 2014

Farm Fresh to You: Dried Orange Ornaments

Happy Holidays from CAFF!

Here is a re-post from Farm Fresh to You in the Capay Valley, homemade and all-natural tree ornaments!

How to Make Dried Orange Ornaments

decorating the tree
Ainsley helps to decorate the family Christmas tree

Each year we try to make something natural and eco-friendly to add to our tree decorations. This year we landed on citrus ornaments, which make such a cheerful and fragrant addition. Although we chose oranges this year, lemons and grapefruit would also work well. 

Dried Orange Slices

This is a very simple craft to do with your little ones and will make a colorful impact on your Christmas tree.

Making Dried Orange Ornaments
Imogen Prepares to Thread the Orange Slices

Makes 20 Ornaments


5 oranges
1 sharp knife

needle & thread
baking Sheet


Preheat oven to 200 degrees.Using a sharp knife, slice oranges thinly, you should be able to get 5 nice slices per-orange. Lightly dab off any extra juice with a towel.

Arrange orange slices on a baking sheet and put into oven for two hours.
Reduce oven heat to 140 (that is as low as mine goes) and remove the orange slices from the baking sheet and place directly on rack. 

Turn slices once after about an hour to keep them from curling or sticking. Turn off oven and leave overnight. 

The following morning, remove slices from oven. Use a needle to thread a string through the orange slice. Tie in a knot to make a loop.

And that’s it! With minimal effort, you have 20 all-natural rustic ornaments to adorn your tree with. And since you made them by hand, you get bragging rights when guests visit for the holidays and comment on your lovely and unique tree ornaments.

To find this craft and other seasonal recipes, visit our website.

We want to wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season!

Orange Slices Ornaments

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

CSA Surprise Box


 Pushing aside those familiar carrot tops and kale leaves you might discover a mysterious, bulbous, root vegetable at the bottom. Maybe you spot an unidentifiable leafy green, and you'll have to make the decision- do I eat this raw or cooked? Like a See's candy box that comes with a map for the chocolate, you grasp the weekly newsletter hoping that your local farmer showed mercy and provided recipe suggestions.

CSA shares are responsible for introducing people to new vegetables nearly every week, it's one of the great pleasures of investing in a farm share.  

You might know Bok Choy but how about Gai Lan, Gai Choy, or Choy Sum?

NPR's food blog, The Salt, explores the new vegetable hybrids that could make their way into your CSA box in the coming seasons. "Kalettes" are a cross of Kale and Brussel Sprouts, a hybrid vegetable that didn't exist until 2010. But, you'll also see some of our old favorites, like rainbow carrots, which have been cultivated for more than 1,000 years. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

CSA Farm Profile: Riverdog Farm

Riverdog Farm
Guinda, CA

The “rule of threes” states that things that come in threes are inherently more satisfying or more effective. That rule holds true when it comes to Capay Valley CSA farms!  Fully Belly Farm, Good Humus Produce, and Riverdog Farm are just around the corner from each other and promote similar bio-diversity and sustainable farming practices. It’s no wonder they have so much in common; the founders of Full Belly and Good Humus played a key role in mentoring Trini Campbell and Paul Mueller of Riverdog Farm in Guinda, CA.

Riverdog is a certified organic mixed vegetable farm with pastured pigs and chickens. The farm also offers organic melons, walnuts, and almonds. Growing from 2 acres in 1990 to the 500 hundred-acre operation it is today, took great skill as well as support from the community. Each week hundreds of loyal customers pick up their CSA share, from Sacramento to San Francisco.  Learn more about Riverdog’s CSA program here.

When asked about her inspiration to start farming, Trini listed the usual motivations, such as working outside and growing healthy food for the community. But Trini mentioned another important factor in her choice to start a farm; providing a healthy, pesticide-free, environment for farm workers.

Loyal members like Riverdog Farm allow CAFF to continue advocating for small-scale farmers and sustainable agriculture.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Food waste

Strategies for reducing food waste in the kitchen and the school lunchroom: 

CSA Farm Profile: Kingfisher Farm


Matt and Lauren Lechmaier, transplants from Wisconsin, are happy to be farming in what Matt claims to be “one of the planet’s most fertile valleys”. Their 1.5-acre farm sits on the banks of the Putah Creek in Winters, nestled in the Sacramento Valley. Kingfisher Farm gets its name from the small, brightly colored, species of bird that visits the farm. April through November, Kingfisher delivers weekly produce shares to their CSA members, all within a few miles of the farm. Matt and Lauren have a strategy behind staying small; to foster connections with each member of the CSA by delivering only within their community, and to limit the number of miles their food travels, reducing the farm’s carbon footprint. The land is certified organic by CCOF, and was formerly an organic walnut orchard. 

By day, Matt coordinates an environmental education program for high school students, through the Center for Land Based Learning. Matt’s first foray into farming was helping his Pop plant tomatoes and dig up potatoes in his backyard garden in Wisconsin. Now, Matt and Lauren grow more than forty varieties of produce, including ornamental gourds and flowers. Kingfisher partners with two other local CSAs, Cloverleaf Farm and Free Spirit Farm, to occasionally provide organic fruit in the boxes. CAFF is proud to have such great neighbors, with our main office located just down the road from all three farms.

CAFF is a strong supporter of CSA farms in California, both advocating in the state Capitol as well as hosting workshops that provide technical assistance to CSA operators. To find a CSA near you, visit You can contact Matt and Lauren by e-mail at or look for Kingfisher Farm on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

CSA Cooking Class Highlights

Eat Your Carhartt's Out
CSA Cooking Class at 18 Reasons
November 5, 2014

We had a full house at the 18 Reasons teaching kitchen on 18th and Guerrero in San Francisco, earlier this month! Chris Hay of Say Hay Farms gave a dynamic presentation about all things farming: redefining skilled labor, rebuilding an electric tractor, where the heck Yolo county is, raising 600 chicks, and valuing our food!

Bread and Butter Radishes

Check out pictures from the evening, and stay tuned for more CSA cooking classes coming up next February! 

18 Reasons Chef Michelle McKenzie focusing on her flan

Farmer Dusty discussing his top-bar beehives

Chris Hay of Say Hay Farms, answering questions about his unique pastured hen operation

Monday, November 17, 2014

Farm Commons Webinars

Upcoming Free Webinar on Tuesday, 12/9/14:

Put Your CSA on Strong Legal Footing: 


CSA is an incredibly unique relationship between farmer and customer. But, this means it also has unique legal dynamics. CSA farmers who critically analyze their membership agreement, drop sites, and farm event programs beforehand set themselves up for success. Learn how an attorney sees CSA and what you can do to protect your farm. This webinar will also discuss risks with farm volunteer programs and buying the right insurance.

Follow this link to register for the webinar:

 Watch the archived webinar below:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recent CA State Legislation

Great news! Two recent bills that CAFF supports have passed and were signed into law by the Governor this Fall! The passing of AB 1990 concerning Urban Gardens and AB 1871 about Farmers Markets is a great success for our local food movement in California. Read more about theses bills and other farm related policy here:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Eat Your Carhartts Out!

Eat Your Carhartts Out:
Life as a Young Bay Area Farmer
Wednesday, November 5th
Starting a farm takes guts. And land, dirt, seeds, compost, water, sun, tractors, markets, and..... cute chicks!
Join 18 Reasons and Say Hay Farms for dinner and a discussion of life as a young farmer in the Bay Area. Chef Michelle McKenzie has worked with farmer Chris Hay to design a menu featuring seasonal produce and fresh eggs. The Say Hay Farm crew will be on hand to share their stories while we dine together. 

Space is limited, so reserve your tickets here!

Radicchio, shaved kohlrabi, sheep's milk cheese, toasted walnuts  
Roasted autumn squash, Basmati rice, fresh cayenne, alliums, mint
Flan with muscovado sugar and Say Hay's pastured eggs
(All served with local bread and Vella butter)  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

18 Reasons and CAFF host a CSA Cooking Class Series

18 Reasons and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers are teaming up for a dinner series focused on Bay Area farms that sell mainly through farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Our first farmer, Chris Hay of Say Hay Farms, worked as a farmers' market demo chef before launching Say Hay Farms. Chris has teamed up with 18 Reasons' Chef and Program Director Michelle McKenzie to plan a seasonal meal from the farm. Join us for a dinner and discussion to learn how to help small farms thrive. 

Tickets will be on sale soon!

Monday, September 15, 2014

How a successful CSA farm supports the larger community

A CSA farm provides healthy produce for a community of families, and those families support a local farmer. But the effect a CSA has ripples far out into a community... those who work on the farm and their families, the land and environment that is cared for, the resources that are saved by minimal packaging and fewer food miles traveled...

See the impact that Local Roots CSA Farm has on its community: 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

CSA Farmer Profile: Shooting Star CSA

Shooting Star CSA
Fairfield, CA

Lily Schneider and Matt Mccue of Shooting Star CSA raise each plant on their 15-acre farm from seed to harvest. Growing more than 35 varieties of fruits and vegetables takes a lot of time and care, but it’s what keeps their CSA shares varied and abundant from May through November. Shooting Star is located in the Suisun Valley, just outside of Fairfield. The farm serves the Bay Area, from Walnut Creek to San Francisco, as well as Solano County. 

Farmer Lily discusses the importance of crop diversity at Shooting Star, “Our farm is a living system that is constantly teaching us new ways of doing things. Our soil fertility program is based on growing winter cover crops, and compost applications before planting. Our most important pest management tool is our high crop diversity. Although we grow a wide variety of crops, we are constantly fine-tuning our varieties to find the ones that are most adapted to our warm summer climate. This means a lot of trial and error, but in the end it has led us to produce higher quality and much better tasting product. “ 

Matt Mccue served in the army prior to becoming a farmer. He came to California for the farm apprenticeship program run by CASFS at UC Santa Cruz, and went on to join the Peace Corps. Lily studied Sustainable Agriculture at UCSC. In 2009, they stumbled upon the piece of land that would become Shooting Star. In their sixth year of farming, Lily and Matt deliver CSA boxes to 275 families around the Bay Area. Throughout the year, members are invited to visit the farm for a tour, open house, and the annual farm party. 

Matt and Lily are valued members of CAFF, find out more about Shooting Star here: