Posts tagged lunch
Posts tagged lunch
As part of CUESA’s Growing Inspiration Farm Tour, the afternoon found us at Swanton Berry Farm. The swift change in climate from Hollister’s heat to the cold wind of Santa Cruz county was noticeable, particularly for the strawberries that grew on earth at Catalan Family Farms but were engulfed in plastic to retain heat at Swanton.
To begin with, we were served a scrumptious salad made of romaine lettuce with pinto beans, grilled squash, corn, onion and poblano chile with tomatillo creme fraiche dressing, prepared by the CUESA market chef Sarah Henkin. As the salad was being mixed, I grew more and more excited. It looked absolutely delicious and I was not let down. I still surprise myself when I notice myself looking forward to vegetables, but it’s the truth. The salad was accompanied by a cauliflower soup made of Swanton produce and a sinful but utterly tasty strawberry shortcake. Mhh mhh mhh!
With our bellies filled to the brim with organic delights, we began receiving an intro to Swanton. The farm has a fascinating history proving the conventional wisdom that you can’t grow strawberries both organically and in a commercially-viable way wrong. Thank you for paving the road for the abundant organic berries we get to eat now! What a huge, historic achievement, particularly because strawberries are part of the infamous dirty dozen.
Faced with the difficulty of limited access to water on the California central coast, the farm continues to grow berries on self-sustaining land with reservoirs, a little waterfall, etc. We toured different plots including canopies of cane fruit such as blackberries, olallieberries, and loganberries, as well as kiwi trees, broccoli, cauliflower and mustard seed, and again were granted an inside look into the challenges of and lessons learned in organic farming. Who knew there were people an hour from San Francisco losing sleep over protecting their livelihood from wild pigs?
A few interesting take-aways from the afternoon:
If you’re in the area, you should check out Swanton Berry Farm and indulge in some u-pick action. This farm deserves special recognition for offering their employees a merit-based retirement plan option and addressing some of the physical hardship of manual labor, which has resulted in them retaining employees for 30+ years instead of the regular 4-5 year turn-over after which most individuals switch from farm work into a different industry like serving at a restaurant or washing cars. Swanton Berry Farm makes it a goal to humanize this very tough business and to make the faming business sustainable not only for the environment, but for the individuals choosing this line of work.
Kudos, and thank you for the tour!