Member News

Summer’s Just Around the Corner

There are big changes coming to your box in just seven days.  I know some of you are ready for it, but next week’s box will be so different from this week’s that you may find yourself scratching your head … Continue reading

Summer into Spring!

2015 has been a race at Terra Firma.  The dry, warm weather sped up everything on the farm, and we have had a hard time keeping up.  Sure it’s nice to have strawberries on April Fool’s Day and Peaches for … Continue reading

And the Leafy Green Winner is…

Kale has been in the news a lot lately.  From the spoof article on the internet last year questioning whether there was enough land in the U.S. to meet the demand for kale, to the recent announcement by McDonalds that … Continue reading

Brand Loyal Beetles

The country roads around our farm are a popular weekend destination for automobile enthusiasts who appear to enjoy sharing the scenic beauty of farmland and hills with others.  A few weeks back, a caravan went by the farm and every … Continue reading

A Sacrifice to the Rain Gods

While areas north, south, east and west of Terra Firma got soaked on Friday night, the rain here was barely enough to get the ground wet.  With lots of ripe strawberries to pick, we were initially happy about the short … Continue reading

The Kings of Spring

I hope you have been enjoying your Terra Firma strawberries in your boxes; emails, Facebook comments and other sources seem to indicate that you are. Strawberries and tomatoes are the “Alpha” crops, the royalty at our farm:  strawberries are the … Continue reading

Saving Water the Old Fashioned Way

New technology offer lots of opportunities to conserve water, and it gets lots of coverage in the news.  Last week on NPR I heard that San Francisco recently passed an ordinance requiring new large apartment buildings to install plumbing that … Continue reading

Deserts & Droughts

Last week at a press conference declaring a drought emergency, Governor Jerry Brown used the word “desert” to describe our state. Dictionary.com defines a “desert” as follows:  “a region so arid because of so little rainfall that it supports only … Continue reading

April 1st Berries?

Every few years, April 1st falls on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and I get a chance to play an April Fool’s prank on Terra Firma subscribers.  Some of you may remember the time I declared that out of frustration with … Continue reading

Electric Cars and Water Conservation

If you are one of many of people who own an electric vehicle, or hope to one day soon, you may have heard that Tesla and other electric car owners can now sign up for a special program where PG&E … Continue reading

A Busy “Winter” at Terra Firma

We have been busier at the farm this winter than I ever remember us being. So busy, actually, that it feels like mid-spring.  In many ways, it has been a Goldilocks phenomenon for us at Terra Firma.  We received just … Continue reading

Bloomtime in the Valley

It’s bloom time in Winters.  We have perilously few crops to harvest right now, but we sure do have lots of flowers.  From our pea field to the strawberry patch, from the cherry orchard to the citrus groves — just … Continue reading

Orange is the new Orange

In July of 2013, the irrigation well failed in one of our bigger and nicer citrus orchards.  The trees wilted and died before a new well could be drilled.  We did not own the orchard, which was several acres of … Continue reading

“No Water for You!”???

If you’ve been a Terra Firma subscriber for a while — or a subscriber to any CSA farm — you’re accustomed to hearing a million reasons why there are certain items in your boxes and not others.  The weather is … Continue reading

Two out of Three

Almonds have been grown in California for hundreds of years, since the Spanish missionaries arrived here in the 1600s.  And walnuts are actually native to the state, Black Walnuts, that is.  Spanish settlers figured out long ago that you could … Continue reading

The Dance of Rain and Earth

One of the most amazing things about soil — or dirt, as we so often call it — is its interaction with water.  And there is no better time to watch this interaction than during a storm like the one … Continue reading

No Other Label Needed

Fourteen years ago, Congress passed a set of national standards for organic food and established the National Organic Program to regulate it.  The legislation was hundreds of pages long, but the core principles were clear: — No synthetic pesticides or … Continue reading

“Big” News

Scale is a hot topic when people discuss agriculture.  In the media, and in certain circles, “big farms” is a derogatory term often associated with ecological destruction and social injustice. What is a big farm and what is a small … Continue reading

Certainly Uncertain

This is the time of year when we at Terra Firma have a few moments to sit back and think about things we might want to do differently in the coming year.  It is much, much easier, however, to conduct … Continue reading

Miracle Cures from the Soil

Dirt was in the news last week.  Scientists at Northeastern University in Massachusetts appear to have isolated a brand new type of antibiotic found in the soil in a farm field in Maine.  Teixobactin is said to aggressively kill even … Continue reading

The Little Mandarin Trees that could

Welcome back!  I hope that everyone had a restful and relaxing holiday season.   We had hoped to keep the farm completely closed for a full two weeks this year during our “winter break”, but the weather (as usual) had … Continue reading

Thanks for a Good Year

This week is our final week of deliveries for 2014.  Thank you for supporting our farm for another year.   For many farmers and ranchers in California, this year was a slow-motion disaster thanks to the drought.  We are cautiously … Continue reading

Fair Trade in the U.S.A

I have written a few times in the past about the reality of our food supply versus the perceptions that many folks have about it, especially those living in urban areas like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  But … Continue reading

Drought’s Not Over Yet.

We’re just a few days into the first real wet weather we’ve had in California in more than two years, and I’ve already heard people proclaiming “The Drought is Over!”  Not so fast. The weather we’ve had since Thanksgiving is … Continue reading

A Real Thanksgiving Pardon

In a few days, the President of the United States will perform the silly annual ritual of pardoning a single turkey as part of our nation’s celebration of Thanksgiving.  But last week, he issued a pardon of sorts that will … Continue reading

Thanksgiving Box Preview

Thanksgiving is one of the few annual holidays on which we always shut down the farm.  Everyone at the farm has been working hard for a long nine months, and we are looking forward to getting a long weekend to … Continue reading

A Look Inside an Organic Farm Inspection

Every year around this time, we start getting ready for our annual audit by our organic certifier, CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). Of all the aspects of organic farming, I have found this is the one that most people — … Continue reading

Farm Day Rainbows

The rainbow theme from my newsletter last week continued right through Farm Day on Saturday.  It was touch and go in the morning deciding whether or not to hold the event, especially since we hadn’t selected a raindate.  But in … Continue reading

Yes on Proposition One

Several subscribers approached me at Farm Day to ask my opinion on Proposition 1 — the water bond on the November ballot — and suggest I write about it in the newsletter.  So here goes. Unless and until we pass … Continue reading

Rainbows with No Rain?

The dramatic change in seasons here mostly over the last seven days is wonderful for our fall crops, but it’s left me fighting some type of bug and not feeling very well.  So in the place of writing, I’m just … Continue reading

Dry Farming in the Winter?

Important Note:  This will be the final week that you get your CSA box packed in the larger size boxes we use during the summer.  Beginning next week, your box will be smaller.  Make sure to check the label so … Continue reading

Unwelcome Guests

Somewhere in Africa, a man gets on a plane bound for California.  He has visited several friends and relatives just before leaving, collecting letters and other items from them.  Once here, he again visits friends and relatives, delivering the letters … Continue reading

Drought Update

Last Wednesday we were thrilled to wake to the sound of steady raindrops that brought us almost half an inch of rain over four hours.  The first rain of fall is always welcome around here after our normally long, hot … Continue reading

Important Farm Day Details

Every year after summer has ended and things have slowed down a bit, we invite you, our subscribers, to come out to the farm for a mellow day of picnicking in the orchard, strawberry picking, pumpkins, music and farm tours. … Continue reading

Winter is Coming (we hope)

It’s crunch time at Terra Firma right now.  Despite the unseasonal hot weather we’ve been having since Labor Day (it was 103 on Friday, for example), we are scrambling to get ready for winter. That’s right.  I said “Winter”.  I … Continue reading

Facebook, Farm Day, and more

Thanks to everyone who responded to last week’s newsletter with helpful suggestions and great ideas.  We now have quite a to-do list of things we need to get done over the next month or so. Several subscribers pointed out that … Continue reading

Help us Grow!

It’s been over twenty years since we started packing CSA boxes at Terra Firma.  Some of you have been with us since back then. Just a few years ago, we had waiting lists for many of our drop sites and … Continue reading

Earthquakes and Dams don’t mix

If you got woken up on Saturday night by the 6.0 Earthquake in Napa, you  might have thought something along the lines of “Drop, cover and hold.” If you live in Winters, California though, your first thought was likely “The … Continue reading

Ecology Ain’t Pretty, Part Two

In last week’s newsletter I talked about beneficial insects and how they control certain pests on farms — an illustration of how evolution works to fill ecological niches.  Ladybugs, for example, thrive on aphids. If you’ll forgive the comparison, humans … Continue reading

Ecology Ain’t Pretty

Beneficial insects are bugs that eat or otherwise kill bugs that damage crops.  Ladybugs are perhaps the most famous beneficial insect —  young ladybugs (technically, larvae) in particular are fast-moving, quick-growing ravenous eaters.  They eat aphids like teenage boys snarfing … Continue reading

A Day with No Sunshine

A strange thing happened in the Sacramento Valley yesterday.  I’m not speaking specifically about the light rain that fell several times between sunrise and sunset.  While it’s not very common, it’s not unheard of.  Actually, it’s happened so many times … Continue reading

Well, well, well

Inside a house, there is a bucket next to the sink and another next to each shower.  A bowl in the sink catches every drop of water used to wash dishes and is then emptied into the bucket.  In the … Continue reading

What is Killing the Walnuts?

Dear (Contact First Name),   A monoculture is an agricultural system that depends primarily or entirely on a single crop.  In theory, monocultures are widely acknowledged to be a bad idea, susceptible to any number of threats:  price crashes, devastating … Continue reading

Flower Power

Tomatoes have one of the most delicate flowers imaginable.  Tiny and frail, it must withstand the elements for long enough to pollinate.  (Tomatoes do not require bees for pollination, although bumble bees do frequent the flowers)  Wind, either cold or … Continue reading

Agritourism vs. Pyrotourism

Most people who come to visit Winters, California, where Terra Firma is located, come for our cute rustic downtown area with its handful of wineries and eateries, often on their way to Lake Berryessa just to the west. But long … Continue reading

Box Upsizing this week. Happy July 4th!

Important:  Please note that your CSA box is larger this week.  We moved all the boxes up a size to accomodate the first watermelons of the year.  Check the label before taking a box! We have grown and packed you … Continue reading

Wherefore Art Though, Water Bond?

This week our elected officials in the State Capitol once again played kick-the-can on one of the biggest issues facing our state:  the future of our water supply.  There had been hopes that politicians could cobble together a bond proposal … Continue reading

Terra Firma at your Doorstep?

When we started packing CSA boxes — just one size — and delivering them in 1994, we were just the second farm with drop sites in San Francisco and one of a handful in the East Bay and Sacramento.  For … Continue reading

Tomatoes are #1

As you are well aware, we grow dozens of different crops here at Terra Firma.  But the reality is, we are really tomato growers.  Tomatoes are the hub crop, the sun around which our farm spins.  If we have a … Continue reading

Proposed Price Increase

On July 1st, 2014, the minimum wage in California will jump by 11.5%, to $9 an hour.  For people who earn the minimum wage or close to it, this is great news. At Terra Firma, the minimum wage is an … Continue reading

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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