Wrap Up for Farm Week

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Living within the biological constraints of the earth may be the most civilized activity a person can pursue, because it enables our successors to do the same. You cannot live within the carrying capacity of a region if you don’t know where you are.  Most of the developed world lacks this knowledge.  We have little understanding of where our water and food comes from, the impacts of our cars and homes, the activities undertaken by others around the globe to support our lifestyle, and the effects we have on the environment and its people…We will never know ourselves until we know where we are on this land.

–Paul Hawken–environmentalist

Getting back to the land and back to the basics was the focus this week.  We came away from our very own farmer+chef connection with hope, inspiration and pride.  We also deepened our commitment to a sustainable lifestyle, our devotion to honor diversity, determination to strengthen our community and are motived even more now to being part of the solutions, and live the change we want to see.

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We gave you a little peek into a very unique and special place in Marin County, Green Gulch Farm, also known as Green Dragon Temple.  We loved being able to show you how other areas grow food and the peacefulness that farming may bring.  Not to mention, all the of the delicious earthly delights.  This tranquil center offers farm and gardening apprenticeships, tours, children’s workshops, lectures and  work week shares, in exchanged for labor and help caring for the land, the Zen Center gives participants accommodation and meals at no charge.  The program also allows you to be part of their formal meditation.

See their website for details.

1601 Shoreline Highway
Muir Beach , CA 94965
415.383.3134 | ggfoffice@sfzc.org

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Next, we gave you a very small tour of a few of our local farms here in Phoenix.  We are truly blessed and feel quite fortunate to have so many amazing farmers here in our valley.  Most of them we are privileged to call friends.

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Tell us about your farm experiences.  Does it make a difference to you knowing your farmer?  Do you get a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share once a week?   We want to know if you think it makes a difference to you and your family.  Have you thought about your own backyard homesteading?

Thanks for being a part of our week.

Modern Day Forager

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Local Farms We Love

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Having just moved here from Illinois in the last couple years, I am still amazed and delighted by the number and the quality of farms here in the valley and the incredible variety of produce that these farmers are able to coax from what looks to my mid-western eye to be scorch earth.  In my short time here, I have been incredibly fortunate to meet and work with several of these amazing people; here is a brief overview of just a few of them.

(Full disclosure: I am currently employed and loving life at Blue Sky Organic Farms)

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WEST VALLEY

Blue Sky Organic Farms:  A family farm dedicated to hard work and growing the best quality produce possible.  Located in Litchfield Park, Arizona since 1995 this 35-acre farm is certified organic, which means the fields and growing practices meet strict federal standards and those standards are upheld through rigorous inspections by third-party inspectors and conducted under the strict purview of the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

Blue Sky Farms specializes in growing a wide variety of vegetables and melons for local restaurants, Arizona Whole Foods Markets, The Old Town Scottsdale Farmers’ Market, and their own farm stand and test kitchen.

Owner David Vose’s chef background further compliments his ability to grow specific items, specific sizes and unparalleled quality and shelf life for both chefs and retailers alike.

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http://blueskyorganicfarms.net

Location:

4762 N 189th Avenue

Litchfield Park, AZ. 85340

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Boho Farm and Home:  This little half-acre urban farm the likes of which I had never experienced until we (urban table) were asked to be vendors at an annual Farmer’s/Flea market she hosted.  Caroline Van Slyke an interior designer turned sustainable farmer does a little bit of everything on this diminutive parcel of land, that in my humble opinion is an urban oasis.

Caroline is growing some incredible vegetables and flowers along with raising chickens and ducks and still finds time to produce some of the tastiest jams and marmalades in town, whip up fabulous cheese and if that wasn’t enough she is willing to share all her knowledge with you during one of the many classes she offers.

http://www.bohofarmandhome.com

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SOUTH MOUNTAIN

MAYA’S FARM:  I first met Maya Dailey, owner and farmer of this small operation that is big on results, before I moved to Arizona, at the Slow Food International Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre in Turin, Italy.  What I learned immediately from meeting Maya is that she is passionate about what she does and because of her; Maya’s farm produces very high-quality vegetables, herbs, flowers and eggs.

Maya has never used pesticides, herbicides, or commercial fertilizers and just recently became one of only 3 Certified Organic Farms in the valley.  Maya’s farm is nestled up to South Mountain Park in Phoenix, Arizona, a beautiful location where visitors are welcome and like Caroline, Maya likes to share her knowledge and offers many classes throughout the year.

http://mayasfarm.com

Located:

6106 S. 32nd Street

Phoenix, AZ 85042

(32nd Street & Southern)

SCOTTSDALE

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Singh Farms:  Singh Farms is located on the Northeast corner of Loop 101 and E. Thomas Rd on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation.  Yes, really, there is a farm there, I was surprised too but a farm it is and a gorgeous one at that!

Owners Lee and Ken Singh have created another urban oasis with and an incredible selection of seasonal vegetables surrounded by mesquite trees and a wonderful farmer’s market Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (noon in the summer)

We carry some of Singh farms products in the larder and they were our farmer at the Miller Market on 1st. this year and we have had nothing but rave reviews on their produce and all their quality products this season.

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https://www.facebook.com/singhfarms

Located:

8900 E. Thomas Road

Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480-225-7199

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The Simple Farm:  Lylah and Michael own another of our urban farms, this one is sandwiched between gated communities in the middle of Scottsdale and this one has goats, to be more specific, a herd of purebred Nubian goats.  Twice a day this heard is milked and that milk is transformed into amazing caramels and cheeses.

On Thursdays the farm is open to the public from 8:30 until noon with a French styled market offering eggs, cheese, vegetables, flowers, fruit and herbs they grow along with other local produce they bring in. More importantly the caramel, you have to try the caramel!  We cant keep the stuff in stock at the larder, salted goat milk caramels… how can that be bad?

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http://www.thesimplefarmmarketgarden.com

Located:

9080 E. Cactus Rd Scottsdale, AZ.

1/4 of a mile east of the 101.

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Green Gulch Farm

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Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to Green Gulch Farm in Marin County.  This place is truly magical.  For several decades they have been a model for organic farming.  If you have ever been to the farmers market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco you have probably seen their wonderful produce for sale.  The Greens Restaurant at Fort Mason uses the bounty from the farm in every meal they create.  The restaurant on the property, wasn’t on our itinerary,  but we look forward to eating there on our next visit.

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This really is a Buddhist Zen Meditation Center.  The calm that settled on us as we walked the farm was much needed and welcomed.  There was no cell phone service so no interruptions as we enjoyed the quite that this place provided.  We had to keep telling ourselves “this really is a working farm”  as all around us people were working in the patchwork fields of new lettuces and chard.

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The farm was ripe with fruit trees of all kinds.  Pears, plums and apples in several varieties and various stages of ripeness. Its not every day you get to see just how something grows.

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Your first introduction to the garden starts with these beautiful fruit trees then opens into a beautiful flower garden.  There are bees everywhere, from small hives scattered around the farm that added to the lovely sites and sounds.

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Spearmint had been harvested for the farmers market but we think it makes a lovely bouquet.  They also have a green house where all the magic starts.

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If you continued walking through the farm you end up at the Pacific Ocean.  As we walked we could hear the ocean long before we could see it.  It was a very cloudy day but still wonderful to see. We hope you enjoyed the tour of this beautiful place.  We would love to know if you have ever visited Muir Beach area or other parts of Marin County.

Modern Day Forager

Farm Week

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Arizona Farmer + Chef Connection

We asked ourselves on Monday before we attended the Arizona Farmer + Chef connection, Do we always take the time to get to know the people behind our food?  Well, today we can say we did just that.  We met, discussed, shared, fostered, strengthened and built relationships with so many of our like-minded colleagues that are involved in our local food movement and local business community.

Yesterday’s conference was filled with inspiration, enthusiasm and lots of astute information.  The event was held at the Desert Botanical Garden, which was a perfect setting for this colloquium.  Here are some of the high points.

Rise of the Grains – A Documentary Film by JD McLelland

Highlights of the video – A quick look at the back story,  history then and now and the future of grain, wheat and the bi-products here in Arizona.  Showcasing some of our local and dedicated champions and heroes that are behind the solutions as well as focusing on the return of nutrition, taste, craft and quality of these fine heritage grains.

This was a great piece.   We will keep you updated on news, events and the launch of this documentary.  https://www.facebook.com/RiseOfTheGrains

Slow the Fork Down

Richard McCarthy, Executive Director of Slow Food USA was the keynote speaker.  He talked about Slow Food ‘s mission, philosophy and manifesto and how Slow Food is good, clean, and fair food.  These are the guiding principles.

1.  Food must taste good and give us pleasure to eat it.

2.  Food must be clean, must have positive influence on our local ecosystem,  animal welfare and support biodiversity.

3.  Food must be fair with accessible prices for consumers as well as producers being treated with dignity and justly compensated.

He discussed the importance of food sovereignty and how it is equally as important as food safety. That we also have a responsibility to create leaders who care, cultivate and connect.  He mentioned we must be committed to adding value and preserving our endangered goods which will strengthen our Ark of Taste products.  We should all think of this as our our call to action, to menu planning, featuring these products in specialty and grocery stores,  not only identifying and introducing these artisanal products but choosing to eat them on a regular basis as well.

Here is  Slow Food’s mission, philosophy and manifesto.

Mission – Slow Food works to defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread taste education and connect producers of excellent foods with co-producers through events and initiative.

Philosophy – We believe that everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, and the tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible.  Our movement is founded upon the concept of eco-gastronomy – a recognition of the strong connections between plate and planet.

Manifesto – Our century, which began and has developed under the insignia of industrial civilization, first invented the machine and then took it as its life model.

We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus:  Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods.  To be worthy of the name, Homo Sapiens should rid himself of speed before it reduces him to a species in danger of extinction.

A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life.  May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency.

Our defense should begin at the table with Slow Food.  Let us rediscover the flavors and savours of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food. In the name of productivity, Fast Life has changed our way of being and threatens our environment and our landscapes.   So Slow Food is now the only truly progressive answer.

That is what real culture is all about:  developing taste rather than demeaning it. And what better way to set about this than an international exchange of experiences, knowledge, projects?  Slow Food guarantees a better future.  Slow Food is an idea that needs plenty of qualified supporters who can help turn this (slow) motion into an international movement, with the little snail as its symbol.

Mr. McCarthy wrapped things up by talking about Presidia, which are projects that the Slow Food Foundation organizes for biodiversity.  The main focus is to directly assist and help artisanal food producers.  They do everything from sustaining quality production, preserve (Ark of Taste) that is at risk of extinction,  protect ecosystems and regions, recover the traditional methods of processing,  and secure native breeds and local varieties of vegetation.

Terra Madre was mentioned as well, which is a global food project the celebrates local foods.  Launched in 2004, Terra Madre facilitates and unites a network of food communities that share the same vision and commitment for good food production.  There are over 160 countries that participate in project.  Terra Madre is a bi-annual conference held in Torino, Italy.

The conference is intended to foster discussion, dialog and bring in and familiarize new and innovative concepts in the field of food, gastronomyglobalization and  economics.

Rj and I have had the very fortunate opportunity to attend this premier event a couple of times in the last several years, something I feel strongly about and I think everyone who is dedicated to their craft must do once.

The University of Gastronomic Sciences is devoted to food and culture and is in Northern Italy in the north-west region of Piedmont.  Our very own Natalie Morris, Co-founder and Operations Director of Good Food Allies attended and earned her Masters of Arts in Food Culture and Communications at this non-profit international academic institution.

And lastly, our esteemed guest of honor challenged us to Slow Giving and grass-roots philanthropy and how we can become more active, focused and strong advocates in this movement.

http://www.slowfoodusa.org/

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So why does this matter to MDF?

Food, the pleasures of cooking and breaking bread are all celebrations.  Our lives have become disconnected in today’s over connected world.  Food affects the quality of our everyday lives.  When you know where your food comes from you discover a personal connection.  Sharing fresh seasonal, local and sustainable food brings people together and keeps us connected to the land and our community.  Being intrepid students of foodways, we work diligently to share and foster the importance this has on our food chain.  Aiming to promote consciousness and the effect on everyday food and buying choices.

Refining and reviving heirloom imperfectly perfect produce and bringing back long-forgotten proven methods gives us a resurgence that restores true flavor and nutrition.  All the while, supporting procurement of farm fresh honest food.

Food is the fabric that joins us all.  Filled with that joy and pride, we cook, bake and taste.  Our customers and followers value fresh ingredients, handcrafted products with unhurried and uncompromising production methods.  Committed to our philosophy, we work as stewards within these guiding principles and standards.  Staying true to our roots is oh so satisfying and richly rewarding.  Following this pledge is the core of our business, and in doing so, we all flourish and the community thrives.  The more you know about your food the better it tastes.

Sustainability is achieved by social, financial and environmental impact and just makes good plain sense.  Raising awareness is essential to ensure continued harvesting with integrity in a sustainable manner, which keeps our environment intact.  Making these decisions are invaluable to preserve biodiversity.  Being mindful of the land and using sound sustainable practices help us stay connected to each other, to eat better and therefore, live better.

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And if that wasn’t enough…

Our crew then split up and attended some really interesting and informative breakout sessions.  The sessions included, Best Practices for Buying & Selling Local Products Wholesale, Alternative Funding Opportunities for Your Food Business, Farm to Table Distribution Innovation: Restaurant CSA’s, Food Safety Regulations and Five Minute Marketing Slams.  These classrooms were filled with expert panelists and constructive discussions.  We all walked away with some very valuable information and great insight.

The last half of the day was set up for all the vendors, who shared their visions, passions, stories, struggles, solutions and goals.  Followed by a lovely buffet and networking.

We were just overjoyed to be part of this action packed event and look forward to the next Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection.

 Thank you!

Modern Day Forager

Welcome to Farm Week

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Today here in Phoenix we are attending the fourth ArizonaFarmer+Chef Connection.  An event that focuses on developing successful farm to chef relationships by connecting food producers and buyers so they may talk directly to each other about product needs, availability and procurement of farm fresh honest food.  The day will be filled with education, facilitate collaboration, cultivate partnerships and promote growth for our local food system.

As chefs, we our schooled in knowing the importance of where our food comes from, but do we always take the time to get to know the people behind the food?

So this week we are taking you behind the scenes, we will be sharing information on this event, along with some photos of great small local farms in our own backyard and some farms we have had the pleasure of visiting across the country.

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The largest fig tree we have ever seen.  The fruit was almost ready to harvest.  This is where the chickens were hanging out.  It was about 100 degrees that day.  These chickens had the right idea.

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These goats were not shy.  One of them tried to eat our lens hood.

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This sweet old wooly gal looks like she is smiling, she must be oh sooo excited about farm week.

Thank you for joining us.  We are so excited to have you here.  Looking forward to hearing about your farm adventures, so please share, we just love hearing from you.

Modern Day Forager