Edible Monterey Bay


In spring, when tomato-maniacs are deciding which varieties to squish into their home gardens, there are more tomato events—talks, workshops, sales, etc.—than you can shake a stick at. Less so in fall. Yet now, when the harvest is at its peak, we have the opportunity to actually taste what we might want to grow next year. After all—if not now, when?

With this in mind, Slow Food Santa Cruz and The Curated Feast have teamed up with Birdsong Orchards, a certified organic farm near Watsonville, to host a tomato tasting party in which Birdsong farmer Nadine Schaeffer will showcase 40 of her favorite varieties out of the 75 she is growing this year. (See below for the mind-boggling complete list.) They have novel and intriguing names like Ananas Noir, … Read More

Chef and author Deborah Madison talks veggies, meat and avocados

March 16, 2015 – Deborah Madison is by turns funny, emphatic, and quirky, with a questioning mind and sparkling eyes. Given her long list of honors, including three James Beard Awards and two Julia Child Book of the Year Awards, she could be arrogant. But she’s modest—and nice. A keynote speaker at the 35th annual Eco-Farm Conference in Pacific Grove, she was spotted rushing to and fro across the Asilomar Conference Grounds, avidly soaking up farm-fresh knowledge just like any conference-goer.

This UCSC alum (Cowell College, 1968) began revolutionizing vegetarian cooking in 1979 when she opened San Francisco’s Greens, one of the country’s first farm-driven restaurants. Greens is associated with the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, which is celebrated for its delicious cuisine, and where Madison was head cook. She … Read More


Reclaiming wheat on the Central Coast

Local wheat. Photo by Angela Aurelio

Photography by Angela Aurelio, Margaux Gibbons and Liz Birnbaum

“A wheat breeder friend once said to me,
‘If we don’t get wheat right, the culture crashes.’ We are a wheat
culture—Western civilization was built on it—and despite the
growing number of people avoiding wheat, we still eat more wheat
than we eat meat, more than we eat chicken and fish, and on and on
… So my hunch is that we could fix a lot of our daunting, dietrelated
health problems if we got wheat right.”

—Chef Dan Barber, author of The Third Plate:
Field Notes on the Future of Food (The Penguin Press, 2014)

There are two agricultural stories about wheat on the Central Coast.

One is … Read More

Organic Pioneers Grew More than Organic Produce, they also grew a Market for It

Jan 27, 2015 – The 35th Annual Ecological Farming Association Conference (January 21-24, Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, California) offered many take-away messages with its eight plenary speakers, 80 topical sessions, and many films, social events, and meaningful opportunities for mingling over wine—or orange juice.

This year the overarching message was: Regenerative agriculture can slow or reverse climate change. The idea is that farms that operate ecologically sink carbon into their soils, instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. They can also restore—or mimic—natural hydrological systems, creating soils that act like a sponge. This is critical stuff.

But the conference itself has much to teach, beyond its themes and speakers. After five years of attending, what struck me most this year is how it honors its elders. Lisa Bunin, … Read More

Soil is the Solution at 35th EcoFarm Conference

December 23, 2014 – The Ecological Farming Association conference has put the “eco” into “ag” for over three decades, providing a forum for people to learn to grow food organically with the support of a community of farmers, ranchers, merchants, distributors, educators, policy makers, activists, and consumers.  

Now in its 35th year, the message of EcoFarm 2015 is that holistic agriculture can actually regenerate Planet Earth and her soils in the face of climate change, reversing damage while producing abundant, pure and nutritious food. Citing research from the Rodale Institute, executive director Ken Dickerson says, “The data is out. It’s science.” In other words: It’s not just a hippie fantasy: it’s biology, it’s science.

More than 2,000 people are expected to attend upwards of 80 educational sessions—as well as … Read More