THE GREATEST PUMPKIN PATCH EVER
Logan and I got out to two farms yesterday. In the morning, we returned to Crystal Bay Farm, out in Watsonville and close to Claravale Dairy and Vanessa Bogenholm's strawberry farm. Farmer Jeff Fiorovich was there: the happy prisoner of the pumpkin stand he'd told me about earlier in the summer. He called his wife, Lori, out to meet us, and Logan added two new members to his international fan club.
I'll have an extensive list from Jeff later, with all the varieties and descriptions, but check out the Beautiful Farms gallery for a peek at some truly beautiful and unusual pumpkins and gourds. More to come there.
Jeff and Lori clearly live for the Halloween season: their patch is decorated with ghoulish masks and oddities to delight the children who visit in droves. While we were there, a preschool group of a half dozen or so toddlers took a tour, while Lori and Jeff hung out with Logan and me. Lori took Logan to feed the goats and her pony: strawberry leaves are a favorite with the Nubian sisters. Jeff showed me the many varieties he's growing, and all I could think was, "This guy is as geeky about pumpkins as I am about fonts!" (I mean this in a good way, of course.)
There were pumpkins for baking and pumpkins for pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds). There were pumpkins for carving and pumpkins for decoration. There were green pumpkins and orange pumpkins and white pumpkins and nearly-red pumpkins, and many combinations thereof. There were wee pumpkins and huge pumpkins. And then there were ornamental gourds, and gourds for eating.
We had such a good time that we stayed nearly two hours. Logan played with the dogs and pet the kitty, a calm farm cat named Diamonte (a kind of strawberry) for the diamond on his neck.
But the joy of the children is palpable. Each visiting child was allowed to choose a tiny pumpkin to take home. (Logan helped himself to two.)
Both Lori and Jeff love to cook, and Lori said that while she's no fan of pumpkin pie (blasphemy!), she loves Jeff's pies.
They sent us home with four pumpkins: the two that Logan pilfered, and two of the odd-colored Marina Di Chioggia, which is Jeff's favorite for flavor this year. (I am eager to bake it and make soup.)
If you are in the Santa Cruz/Watsonville/Monterey area, please try to visit Crystal Bay Farm. It's on the corner of Zils Road and Buena Vista Road, out near the KOA campground. Jeff and Lori are just wonderful people, and their pumpkin patch is the best I've ever seen, for every reason. They've got spooky theme music and everything. Tours can be arranged, of course.
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OTHER FARMY THINGS
Saturday morning the weather was beautiful, so we took Logan up to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and visited around. We saw Kristie Knoll of Knoll Tairwa', Brandon and Michelle of Ella Bella Farm, and Al Courchesne of Frog Hollow Farm. (That's Logan playing with the bean vendor's beans.)
Seeing Brandon and Michelle was great, because they invited us out to the new farm, which was our second destination yesterday. Logan's late nap caused us to miss Michelle and their little boy, Harry, who is just a month older than Logan. But we got to see Brandon on the big tractor, putting in rows for more strawberries. I will go back and have a proper visit soon, and write about the new farm.
In case you missed it in the springtime, I had revisited what I thought was Ella Bella Farm in April, and noticed that everything had been ripped out but the strawberries. That is NOT Ella Bella Farm, and if you are on Corralitos Road, do NOT buy strawberries from that farmstand: they are grown "conventionally" (aka "thoughtlessly and stupidly"), and they are contaminated with poisonous pesticides. I am happy to report that Brandon and Michelle are growing blackberries, golden and red raspberries, blackberries, apples, strawberries, peppers galore, tomatoes ad infinitum, and all kinds of greens and things. It's a beautiful picture of diversity, and I am so grateful they found a new place to grow.
SOME TASTY NEW BLOGS
I use Bloglines to manage all the blogs I like and I think EVERYONE should. Because all the blogs I read are linked in my left sidebar, and because to list them would be ridiculously long, I am going to point some out each time I write. (My list of subscriptions is here: there are currently 169.)
Tom Philpott, of Maverick Farms, is a real farmer who writes well. He's been invited now to blog for Grist Magazine, Environmental News and Commentary. I subscribe to Grist online, and encourage you to do the same. Tom also does a food blog with Maverick Farms, called MaverickEats. I subscribe to all three of these blogs.
It's no accident that Kate's Accidental Hedonist made it into Time Magazine as one of the best food blogs in the world. She's educated and she's educating. In this post, she discusses one of Tom Philpott's articles about food and class.
I would also steer you to read George Monbiot's blog: I especially enjoyed this entry called "Growing My Own."
Former Santa Cruzan who is now a resident of Humboldt, California, Amy Stewart has
a trifecta of blogs, and I love her for it. First, she's written a book
about composting with earthworms, and thus she produces Worms of Endearment. And because worms and dirt go, um, hand in hand, there is also her Dirt blog
(which I am linking to a cool post). And finally, she's got what may be
the world's only blog on creatures near and dear to my heart, chickens:
"Humboldt Hens." (Yoo hoo, Amy, have you seen the Hen Cam?)
Still coming up: a long piece on Love Apple Farm and Cynthia Sandberg with whom I am dining soon. I have come to consider Cynthia a "tomato curator." What she does, in my mind, is a kind of magic.
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In a previous post, I mentioned sponsors for my blog. If you notice the presence of Logan on most of these farm visits, that's because he is with us more often than not. I cannot complain, as he is human sunshine and the Light of Zartha—but the commitment to being with him has caused a drastic reduction in my ability to work. My income has decreased accordingly. Then the price of gas went up, and it costs more just to get around to the farms.
I have a request for something that won't cost you anything but a few seconds of your time. I won't add advertisements to the blog, as I think they're really unappealing. Instead I have signed up at Amazon as an Associate. If you are going to purchase something at Amazon, adding one tiny piece of code into the address bar of your browser can earn me a small commission (about 5% of your purchase).
All you have to do is stick a small piece of code into the long web address (URL) when you order. It's very easy. An Amazon link can look like these:
Or sometimes they're longer like this:
All you need to do to turn a link into a referral from me is add "smallfarms-20/" (that's smallfarms HYPHEN 20) after the first long number and the forward slash. Like these:
If it's a longer link, just make sure that "smallfarms-20" is separated from everything before and after it with a "/" -- like this -- "/smallfarms-20/" (Simple, I hope.) Feel free to write me and send me the link, if you can't figure it out, and I'll make it "smallfarms" friendly for you and send it back. My e-mail address is:
tana @ tanabutler . com
Just remember to remove the extra spaces, put there to trick spambots from harvesting my address.
Thank you for the support.
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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." —Charles Mackay
Thanks for visiting.