What does September rain bring?
Dear (Contact First Name), 2013 send a pretty strong message on Saturday, the day before the Fall Equinox, i.e., the first day of fall: Attention Northern California, it is now fall. The “Harvest Moon” setting last week We got over … Continue reading
When I was two years old, my parents bought their first house and planted a pine tree in the sideyard. There is a picture of my mom holding me next to the tree, which was about her size. By the … Continue reading
Digging Deeper into “Superfoods”
You may have read a humorous blog post a few weeks back spoofing kale’s exploding popularity as a trendy food. In these last few years, certain vegetables have been included on the list of so-called Superfoods — foods packed not … Continue reading
Paper or Plastic?
“Paper vs. Plastic?” Terra Firma subscribers are aware that most of the time, when it comes to the packaging we use in your boxes, we usually make the choice for you. This is the process we use to decide: Whenever … Continue reading
Which Tomato is Sweetest?
Long ago when Terra Firma still had a stand at the farmers’ markets in Berkeley, San Rafael, and Davis, there was one question asked most frequently when a customer was confronted with the vast array of tomato varieties we grew: … Continue reading
It’s not a Dry Heat
I grew up on the East Coast, and if you’ve ever spent any time there — or of course, in the South — you’re familiar with the term “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”. We got a tiny taste … Continue reading
A New Crop of New Drop Sites
Terra Firma doesn’t do paid ads for our CSA like some other farms, or Groupon deals like some of the big organic produce delivery services. We rely almost 100% on referrals from our subscribers for new customers, and we try … Continue reading
Drought of 2013
It’s been a long dry season this year; the second year in a row with below average rainfall. So I wasn’t shocked to hear discussion at a local watering hole recently turn to talk of wells in the area running … Continue reading
The Big Tomato Issue!
Dear (Contact First Name), The three-acre tomato field we are harvesting right now is alongside a private gravel road. Every morning our employees park along that road, grab empty boxes from the piles arrayed there, and start harvesting tomatoes by … Continue reading
There’s a manual used by professional psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose their patients, and the list of disorders and syndromes in it gets longer every time they publish it. I am completely certain that a t some point in the … Continue reading
Death, Taxes…and Weeds
Everyone knows the old cliche about life’s only certainties: Death and Taxes. For farmers, however, there’s a third. But unlike the other two, this is a certainty that is in your face every day, reminding you who is boss, taunting … Continue reading
Good News for Sweet Pepper Fans
Sweet Bell Peppers are one the most difficult vegetables to grow organically, especially in the Central Valley of California. The standard supermarket bell pepper is dark green, almost black, while it is ripening. Meanwhile, the plants generally make excessive amounts … Continue reading
Happy 4th of July Heatwave
Happy Fourth of July! We hope you are enjoying the holiday and, if you are in town and getting a box this week, are planning on celebrating with lots of great seasonal produce. Unless it falls on a Sunday, Fourth … Continue reading
All Aboard the Peach Train
Important: We are not changing our delivery schedule this year for the 4th of July holiday. Please see the note below for more info. Peaches are the quintessential summer fruit and, in our opinion, a critical component of any good … Continue reading
The Other Andean Superfood
Potato consumption in the U.S. has been down quite a bit since the dawn of the Atkins and other low-carb diets. Meanwhile, consumption of quinoa has skyrocketed. I find this slightly amusing since together, they are two of the three … Continue reading
The Results are In.
The results of last week’s survey in the newsletter are in. 280 of you took the time to respond, which is pretty good — fully a quarter of Terra Firma subscribers. That makes the data a pretty accurate reflection of … Continue reading
Sometimes it seems like everywhere you go on the world wide web, a survey pops up with some random question (“Do you love Cheetos? Vote now!”). Everyone in the marketing business is looking for data to help them make their … Continue reading
Earliest Tomatoes Ever?
I spent some time this morning going back through several years of our CSA packing lists and newsletters for late May — all the way back to 2006. But I couldn’t find another year when we had tomatoes in your … Continue reading
Immigration Reform Moves Forward
There aren’t too many times of year on California’s farms that are busier than mid-May, and Terra Firma is no exception. There are so many different tasks that need doing here right now that just listing them all would take … Continue reading
Rating the Season
At our farm, diversity is both an ecological and economic strategy. Growing numerous crops helps us keep at least some insect pests and diseases in check, but it also protects us from the financial damage that most farmers suffer if … Continue reading
No Vampires at our Farm
I’m sure you’ve heard that garlic is good for you. For thousands of years, all around the world, people have attributed health benefits to eating the so-called stinking rose. But it also turns out to be a big help in … Continue reading
April 2013: Every Day is Windsday
I was talking on Sunday to a friend of mine who has a very large farm of mostly conventional crops. “Everyone’s farming organically this year” he told me laughing. We were discussing the seemingly endless fierce wind that has plagued … Continue reading
Antibiotics on Organic Apples?
You may or may not know that “Certified Organic” is a legal definition enshrined in federal law and governed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. But who decides, for example, whether a certain fertilizer or pesticide is … Continue reading
Onions for Every Season
I had thought about addressing a big issue this week like the just-released proposed immigration legislation or the FDA’s food safety regulations, but with the sad news from Boston I’m going to drill down a bit into the comforting world … Continue reading
Silver Linings Berry Patch
The theme of this week’s newsletter is Silver Linings, and we’ve a some pretty big ones today. Silver Lining #1: For all the damage that last week’s hailstorm wrought on our farm, it very clearly missed one important spot: the TFF … Continue reading
Easter Sunday Hailstorm
After giving us less than an inch of rain in three months, Mother Nature decided to play catch up Sunday. We got more than inch of precipitation, most of it in just one hour, accompanied by lots of thunder and … Continue reading
What’s small and red and ripens in the spring?
What’s small and red, juicy and slightly crisp and grows in the spring? On our farm there are three different crops that match that description, and one of them is in some of the boxes today. But it may not … Continue reading
Happy First Day of Spring! It seems a bit of a formality this year, since it’s been warm and sunny for two months now. But you will notice a distinct difference in your boxes today. Generally we like to roll … Continue reading
Spring is here — No Whining
There’s an old joke in rural areas: “What do you call a basement full of farmers? — A whine cellar.” There’s always something to complain about when you’re a farmer, and sometimes it’s hard for me not to use this … Continue reading
Driest February on Record
Unless you’re a skier or a Water Resources Department manager, you’ve been pretty happy with the warm, dry weather this February. Let’s face it, everyone was pretty tired of wet weather after the six weeks in a row we … Continue reading
Sell-By Dates and Food Safety
On Thursday February 14th a large organic producer issued a recall on bagged spinach that had been sold in 39 different states due to concerns that the spinach was contaminated with E. Coli. The fact that the product had already … Continue reading
Seed Buying Season
Late winter is seed-purchasing season at Terra Firma, when we get out our lists and start looking at web sites and catalogues, and order much of the seed we will use for the year. Our annual budget for seed is … Continue reading
So who made the farmer?
I had a topic planned for this week’s newsletter, but then this ad Official Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial “Farmer” played in the middle of the Superbowl… It’s just not very common to see realistic imagines of farmers on … Continue reading
Coming in from the Cold
Some good news this week: We’ve tallied up the damage from the cold weather early this month, and it appears to be manageable. Most of our citrus: navel oranges, grapefruit, and tangelos — is fine. This is great news, since … Continue reading
The Real Soylent Green: $
This week I’m going to continue more or less on the topic of our government’s food policy, and how directly connected it is to our biggest nation health problems. There is no real scientific debate about what is making Americans … Continue reading
It’s 2013 but the Farm Bill is still stuck in 1983.
Welcome to 2013! A few months back, Michael Pollan wrote a piece in the New York Times discussing whether there was a real movement to improve food in the U.S., or if it was just a trend or fad. This … Continue reading
Ten Days ’til Solstice
With just eleven days to go until the shortest day of the year, it still doesn’t feel much like winter around here. So it might be easy to forget that next week is our final delivery week for 2012. There … Continue reading
Everyone knows that water is a precious resource in California, and that there’s not enough to go around. Except that really, there is plenty of water in our state. Unfortunately, most of it is located many hundreds of miles away … Continue reading
I hope everyone had a nice holiday and enjoyed the beautiful sunny weather that came along with it. There’s a big, very wet storm headed our way now and we are trying to make the most of the two dry … Continue reading
Thanksgiving is always a crunch at Terra Firma: a full week’s harvest and deliveries packed into a half week of short days. This year the whole endeavor has been made more complicated by absences of key staff members due to … Continue reading
Immigation Reform Now!
With the election a week behind us, the hope that politicians from the two parties would actually work together to solve our nation’s problems is already starting to seem naive — with one exception. For the last four years, the … Continue reading
Daylight “Shaving” Time
Daylight “shaving” time took an hour away from us at the end of the day and added it back to the start of the day this week. At Terra Firma, this is not normally a welcome development this time of … Continue reading
The Carrot Issue
Carrots are one of our staple crops at Terra Firma, and have been one of the most consistently popular items in our CSA boxes for years. The handful of restaurants that we sell our produce to have always loved our … Continue reading
Feeding more people with less land
Thanks to everyone who came out to the farm on Saturday to enjoy a perfect sunny fall day. We had perfect timing this year, as the raindrops starting falling less than two days later. As the big anti-proposition 37 campaign … Continue reading
In It for the Long Haul
Thanks to everyone who sent in a response to last week’s newsletter. One thing I didn’t mention last week was that while our CSA box numbers have dropped a bit since their peak, they have been holding steady since and … Continue reading
Three Long Years
I’ve been thinking all week about something I heard an African farmer on an NPR story last week about the challenges facing him and other farmers in his country: “Farmers, our heads are full of sawdust: we work so hard … Continue reading
Summer into Fall
Dear (Contact First Name), Roughly speaking, all fresh fruits and vegetables fall into one of two categories: harvested fresh or stored. I’m not talking about the difference between fresh broccoli and frozen broccoli or fresh tomatoes and canned ones. Rather, … Continue reading
Farm Day: Saturday, Oct. 20th, 2-5 pm
Terra Firma’s annual CSA Subscriber Farm Day is a low-key event that features hay rides around the farm, pick-your-own strawberries, and a tour of some of our fields. For your Halloween needs, there will be an assortment of organic Pumpkins. … Continue reading
Certified Organic = No GMOs
Proposition 37, the GMO Labelling initiative on the ballot this fall, is generating some media attention even from national outlets like NPR and generating lots of questions — even from TFF subscribers.A few weeks back, a drop site host emailed … Continue reading
Scarecrows and Straw Men
Fall is just around the corner, and during this traditional harvest “crunch time”, birds have historically become pests in farm fields around the world — taking advantage of the concentrated abundance to help fatten up for their long migrations. With … Continue reading
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How does an Orange become Organic?
Why is some of Terra Firma’s citrus fruit Certified Organic, and some not yet? There’s a pretty simple explanation and it helps explain some of the quirks of how we farm and get you such a wide variety of produce. … Continue reading
The View from Below
As you probably have heard, over the last week a series of events occurred at Lake Oroville — the second largest reservoir in the state — that caused the mandatory evacuation of almost two hundred thousand people living downstream in … Continue reading
Fifty years before Terra Firma came into existence, George Hemenway tended dozens and dozens of acres of fruit trees and vegetables on much of the land we currently farm. He kept a handwritten daily dairy of his work on the … Continue reading