Member News

The Spiral(iz)ing Popularity of Vegetables

Everyone knows that one of the best ways to eat healthier is to eat more vegetables.  And yet for decades, American consumers have tended to flock to faddish diets that promised to help them lose weight, lower their cholesterol, help … Continue reading

Farm Robots? Yes Please.

You may have seen a video on social media recently of a new “Weed Pulling Robot” that promises to eliminate one of the most costly and time consuming activities on farms while reducing worldwide herbicide use by 20%.  The solar-powered machine appears … Continue reading

Everyone’s a Winner…with Legumes

On any given day of the year, you can find legumes growing at Terra Firma.  Peas are harvested in the spring.  Green beans are a summer and fall crop.    We also grow leguminous cover crops — vetch in the winter and … Continue reading

The Pest You Can Barely See

How’s this for a clickbait grabber:  “This tiny insect you’ve never heard of and can barely see is the most destructive pest in the world!” And it’s true.  Thrips are tiny insects, barely visible to the naked eye, that feed on … Continue reading

First the Good News

It can be hard to stay positive in our world today, and it’s hard to escape the bad news even if you try.  When you’re writing a weekly newsletter like this one, the “experts” will tell you to make sure … Continue reading

Turning on the Pumps

For farms in California, water is the lifeblood flowing through them and keeping them alive.  At Terra Firma, the “heart” of our farm is the big natural gas engine that pumps water to our fields from the Putah South Canal … Continue reading

A Berry Abundant Week

Most of the fresh strawberries grown and eaten in the U.S. are grown in California, and most of those are grown in a narrow strip along the coast.  The mild weather that humans enjoy so much is also perfect for … Continue reading

No Pre-Chopped Romaine Here

Most people like convenience, and all businesses love efficiency.  When these two concepts come together in the same product, it can overcome any lingering doubts that might exist about things like…safety.  This seems to be what happened when someone decided … Continue reading

How Far is Too Far

A few people noticed that the Minneola Tangelos in last week’s boxes were not exactly local — they came all the way from Oceanside in San Diego county.  For many years, we had our own Tangelo orchard that we tended … Continue reading

Casualties of a Trade War

You’ve probably heard by now that our Tweeter-in-Chief started a trade war with China last week by raising tariffs especially on steel and aluminum imports.  China returned fire this week by announcing tariffs primarily on agricultural goods including pork and … Continue reading

Spring Update

We got a few days off last week thanks to the late season storm that dropped quite a bit of rain on the farm, but this week we are hitting the ground running.   The mostly dry spring this year … Continue reading

Four Years in the Making

In early February an oversized gopher saw its shadow in Pennsylvania and people took it as a sign that Spring was here.  That prognostication turned out to be incorrect. As vegetable farmers, we have use a different indicator: Asparagus. Like … Continue reading

Terra Firma Birds

Yesterday afternoon as I was about to turn into my driveway, a Great Blue Heron flew right in front of my truck, just a few feet overhead.  It was an amazing sight to behold so close up. For most of … Continue reading

Luck of the Draw

Agricultural freezes are not dramatic disasters like hurricanes, tornados or wildfires.  Even if they occur on a large scale, whether or not crop sustains or escapes damage comes down to little details.  How cold it gets in a particular area … Continue reading

What the Hail?

One fine spring day in 2001, I was working on the tractor on a gorgeous afternoon in late winter.  It had been rainy and wet for weeks, and I was taking advantage of a break in the weather.  I don’t … Continue reading

Skating Rink or Peach Orchard?

My first lesson about the risks that cold weather poses to fruit trees came from reading John Nichol’s “New Mexico Trilogy”, which included the Milagro Beanfield War. In the fictional valley where the novels are set, the farmers never got … Continue reading

Good Content vs. Good Neighbors

Over the many years I’ve been writing this newsletter, there have been many stories I’ve wanted to tell but couldn’t.  Some of the most “interesting” things that have happened on the farm involved people.  But our farm is a small … Continue reading

Happy Februly!

February is a sleepy month on most farms, even at Terra Firma.  The cold, wet weather of December and January has taken a toll on our winter vegetables, slow down harvest.  And the orchards and other permanent crops are still … Continue reading

Protecting Groundwater, the Organic Way

Nitrate pollution is one of the more vexing problems facing rural areas in the U.S. and around the world.  It is caused over decades as fertilizer, manure and sewage run off into surface water or are leached through the soil … Continue reading

A Few Changes for 2018

2018 is a new year, and new things are happening at Terra Firma.  We have a new staff member, Alicia Baddorf, who is going to take over most of the correspondence and communication with our CSA subscribers.  Alicia started two … Continue reading

January Fog brings June Fruit

It’s been five days since we’ve seen the sun at Terra Firma.  Two hundred feet outside my office window, there’s a crew harvesting cauliflower.  I can hear them chatting but I can’t see them through the fog. Totally unlike the … Continue reading

We Made it through a tough year, Thanks to you!

California is a place of weather extremes, but 2017 might take the prize for “Most Extreme Weather Year, Ever”.  We went from dams failing in the Wettest Winter ever to a crazy hot Summer that sparked the most destructive wildfires … Continue reading

Community Supported…Wedding?

By now, most Terra Firma subscribers know what “Community Supported Agriculture” means.  But what would a “Community Supported Wedding” look like? Maybe it would have most or all of the wedding guests make a contribution:  not simply purchasing a gift, … Continue reading

A Love Story

It’s well understood that humans have the capacity to love a place, from a humble spot like their local beach or hiking trail to majestic destinations like Yosemite or Pt. Reyes. The intense feelings of pleasure we get from visiting … Continue reading

Happy News for Thanksgiving

Like July 4th, Thanksgiving is a big holiday in the produce business.  Everyone in the country is eating the same things, on exactly the same day.  Demand for those foods spikes for a single week.  Turkey growers manage this problem … Continue reading

A Sad Sweet (Potato) Saga

Some of you have likely noticed the absence of one item from the boxes in general this year:  Sweet Potatoes.  We plant sweet potatoes every spring and normally harvest the first roots in October.  This gives them just enough time … Continue reading

Thanksgiving Green Beans and other Holiday Myths

For many years, we tried to have fresh green beans in your boxes for Thanksgiving.  As I’ve mentioned a few times, the warm, sunny days and cool nights here in the fall are perfect for growing long, slim, and tender … Continue reading

Eat your “Miracle” Vegetables

A few weeks back I wrote about the benefits of growing leguminous crops.  Planted on millions of acres around the world and consumed in some form by a majority of humans, beans and peas are an incredible example of how … Continue reading

Countdown to Winter

While we didn’t get much rain last Friday morning, it was enough to get things muddy and damp, and we were very happy with our decision to postpone our Farm Day event.  The weather this Saturday should be perfect for … Continue reading

Shovels are for Fighting Fires…and Irrigating

By now, everyone has seen the photos from the Napa and Sonoma fires of torched houses across the street from untouched grapevines.  Irrigated fields, whether the vineyards in Napa or the orchards and fields of Terra Firma and other farms … Continue reading

Carrots are Back!

For the last week or two we’ve been waiting for our first fall Carrots to size up enough to begin harvest.  Part of our job as farmers is normally to check on our maturing fields to determine when crops are … Continue reading

The Crop that Gives Back

Most of the crops we grow at Terra Firma fall into a small group of plant families.  Of course there are the Solanums — Tomatoes, Peppers and Potatoes.  Cucurbits include Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Melons, Watermelons and Winter Squash.  Brassicas or … Continue reading

Team Building, TFF-Style

We don’t do any structured teambuilding exercises at Terra Firma, but everything we grow at Terra Firma is the result of constant daily teamwork between the fifty or so people who work here.  Every item in your box gets to … Continue reading

Meet the New Kale, Same as ye Olde Kale

We’ve been growing kale at Terra Firma since the beginning of the farm — actually, since before it was even called Terra Firma. Kale is a great crop for anyone who has a limited amount of space.  A handful of … Continue reading

New Items for a New Season

It still looked and felt like mid-summer here on the farm yesterday — mid-summer in the Midwest that is, hot with clouds, thunderstorms and humidity.  But today it feels like fall, breezy and cool.  And your box this week clearly … Continue reading

Surviving a Year of Extremes

I hope everyone in the Bay Area managed to survive, or avoid, the record-breaking Labor Day weekend heatwave from hell.  I do my best to write newsletters every once in a while that aren’t about the weather.  But it was … Continue reading

ARkstorm vs. Hurricane Harvey

If you’ve seen the images of the devastating floods in Houston caused by Tropical Storm Harvey, you may find yourself thinking “That could never happen here.”  After all, the 40-50 inches of rain they received in just a few days is as … Continue reading

The Fall Planting Conundrum

A few weeks back we started getting pretty worried about whether the seemingly endless summer heatwave of 2017 was going to endure right up until Labor Day.  The first two weeks of August were almost as hot as it had … Continue reading

Navigating Food Trends in the #HastagAge

You’ve seen it somewhere on your computer screen hundreds of times:  “Ten Foods not to Eat!” or “Eat These Foods for (Fill in the Blank Reason)”.  During the 25 years we’ve been farming, we have witnessed at least a dozen … Continue reading

Where’s the Plan?

Innovation is one of the buzzwords of the 21st century, and like its cousin “technology” it has become almost synonomous with Silicon Valley and the internet.  But all successful farmers — from the smallest to the largest — incorporate continuous … Continue reading

Under Summer Cover

Thanks to the abundant and late rains this year we ended up with quite a few fields that we were unable to plant during the spring, either because they were too wet when we needed them or simply because we … Continue reading

When the Fringe becomes the Cutting Edge

Even just a few years ago, there weren’t many places for an organic farmer to turn to for advice or guidance.  I remember having to explain to a USDA employee the difference between manure and compost.  County farm advisors focused … Continue reading

Peak O’ the Season

We’re mid-way through our summer season at Terra Firma, and yet it still feels like we’re just getting started.  All the summer crops are planted, and several fields have already finished.  For a few short weeks, we can focus almost … Continue reading

Sitting, Waiting, Watching…the Vegetables

One of the single most frustrating things about growing fruits and vegetables is waiting for them to ripen, size up, or otherwise come to fruition. Vegetables are always listed in seed catalogs with their “Days to Maturity” — the number … Continue reading

“We Survived Heatstorm 2017”

Now that was a real, honest-to-goodness Central Valley heatwave:  10 days straight of temperatures over 100 degrees. Weather forecasters got a little excited about the hot weather last week, predicting that record high temperatures would be broken.  Other folks talked … Continue reading

Summer Solstice Sweet Corn

Everyone has their own “quintessential” summer food.  If yours is a fruit or vegetable, there’s a pretty good chance that Terra Firma grows it:  Tomatoes, Peaches, Watermelon, and of course, Sweet Corn. Sweet corn is not easy to grow organically. … Continue reading

Countdown to Summer

The strangest June we’ve had in years continued this weekend as an extremely rare series of thunderstorms plowed through Yolo and Solano counties yesterday complete with hundreds of lightning strikes and even hail.  We got a little soaking of rain, … Continue reading

Peaches and Climate Change

The 2017 peach crop on our farm and throughout the state is a mixed bag, some varieties are loaded while others are light thanks to the long wet spells that came during bloom.  But because Georgia and South Carolina lost … Continue reading

Why aren’t Farmers using more water now that the drought is over?

The timing of the first real “heatwave” of 2017 here this week on the farm coincided with another “first” for the year.  We started irrigating crops a few in late April, but it wasn’t until Monday that we started watering … Continue reading

Is Imported “Organic” Food really Organic?

When Terra Firma Farm started back in the late 20th century, we were the 17th organic farm to become certified organic in the Solano-Yolo counties region.  Back then, organic farms certified each other, banding together to create standards and check … Continue reading

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The Spiral(iz)ing Popularity of Vegetables

Everyone knows that one of the best ways to eat healthier is to eat more vegetables.  And yet for decades, American consumers have tended to flock to faddish diets that promised to help them lose weight, lower their cholesterol, help … Continue reading

Farm Robots? Yes Please.

You may have seen a video on social media recently of a new “Weed Pulling Robot” that promises to eliminate one of the most costly and time consuming activities on farms while reducing worldwide herbicide use by 20%.  The solar-powered machine appears … Continue reading

Everyone’s a Winner…with Legumes

On any given day of the year, you can find legumes growing at Terra Firma.  Peas are harvested in the spring.  Green beans are a summer and fall crop.    We also grow leguminous cover crops — vetch in the winter and … Continue reading