Hardly a week goes by for me that I don't go to the farmers market, usually Saturday morning. And almost every week, I stop at the New Natives booth, have a little visit with Sandra and Ken Kimes, and come home with my most-beloved microgreen on earth: pea shoots. The Kimes got into business by growing wheatgrass—their original product, starting almost exactly twenty-five years ago this week. Sunflower sprouts, clover, mixed sprouts, and salad mixes round out the mix of products.
New Natives also partners with Hazel Dell farm at the markets, and sell the most beautiful and aromatic mushrooms -- I hope to visit them soon.
When I told the Kimes I was writing about farms, they invited me out to see their greenhouse. Since they're just around the corner from Thomas Farm, I decided to visit both in one afternoon, and arrived at Sandra's house at about 5:00. She greeted me with two of the biggest billygoats I've ever seen in tow. Goats as big as Shetland ponies. Goats as big as Volkswagens. These goats are Arnie and Billy.
Now, until recently, goats have freaked me out pretty much my whole life. It wasn't until last year, when I visited Dee Harley's goat farm in Pescadero that I changed my mind about them. Her goats were so curious and smart. They didn't come after people.
I am not the sort of person that animals and babies don't like. I was only chased by a dog once in my life, and he chased everyone. I've made it a point to greet animals with confidence and gentleness, for the most part.
Well, when I told Sandra that I used to be afraid of goats, Billy heard me. I swear. He didn't waste one second introducing himself to me: "Hi, I'm Billy, and I'm about to impede your progress in any way I possibly can." He hooked his horns on the strap of my camera and yanked me around. He stood in front of me, and moved whichever direction I started in. I handed the baby to Sandra and walked away. Billy followed, with Sandra exorting him, "Behave, Billy!" The more I tried to get away, the more he stuck close. I tried to put the car door between us, and he started to climb into the car.
Exasperated, Sandra led the goats down the hill towards the greenhouse, until Ken could come out and handle the goats. But Billy stayed at the end of the house, giving me the stink-eye. Finally he turned his back, so that all I could see was his butt. I guffawed when he took a giant crap right on the path, because I knew I'd be calling him names in my blog. Revenge is a dish best served cold, unlike goat tacos, which are best served warm.
Eventually, I was able to get down the hill to the greenhouse, and Logan meanwhile was blowing kisses to the goats, to Sandra, to the deer on the hills.
Walking into the greenhouse felt like walking into another state. It smelled green and earthy and clean and loamy all at once. The tidiness necessary to grow and sell the sprouts is omnipresent. It was a little like a golfcourse, but only in the nice way. (I think golfcourses are an insane waste of water, frankly.)
Logan and I were there for about an hour, and in that time, Sandra convinced him to try (and like!) every sprout in the place. But nothing made him happier than finding a volunteer cherry tomato plant in the corner with the tropical gingers. Sandra fed him one, and he snatched up every red one he could find. After eating three or four, to much grunting exclamation, Logan began to mangle the tomatoes. Ken and Sandra just laughed and let him. When he started wandering around, dripping and dropping tomato seeds, Ken laughed harder. "I'm going to find a thousand little volunteers in that corner now, Logan. You're like Johnny Appleseed...you're Logan Tomatoseed!"
Hans Christian Andersen said it best: "Green is good for the eyes." Yes, and these greens are good for body and soul.
My idea of a perfect salad: pea shoots with a little hard-cooked egg, the lightest drizzling of sweet onion vinaigrette, and a few Sungold cherry tomato halves. Perfect.
© 2005 Tana Anderson Butler, all rights reserved, period.