Member News

Terra Firma’s Aerial Defense Squad

Late summer is Dragonfly season in Terra Firma’s fields.  Every day around sunset, thousands of them take to the air en masse, hovering and swooping over our tomato, melon and other fields.  I enjoy watching them, but until recently I had … Continue reading

Countdown to Equinox

We’re a week away from the Fall Equinox, and despite all the hot weather we’ve been having, summer is wrapping up on our farm.  It’s true that it can stay plenty hot in the Sacramento Valley this time of year … Continue reading

Spending the Summer Under Cover

Cover crops — crops grown specifically to improve the soil rather than to produce income — are a critical part of our farming practices at Terra Firma.  In the winter, over half our land is normally “covered”.  But since we … Continue reading

The Last Stand of Summer 2019

After the “nicest July ever” that I mentioned a few weeks back, Summer of 2019 seems to have had second thoughts. Like a child just realizing that it’s time to go back to school, it’s making a dramatic last stand … Continue reading

CSI Terra Firma: The Farm Detectives

At least a few times a year, we come across the scene of a minor crime on the farm. It’s almost always theft of small, easy-to-transport items like chainsaws or other valuable tools. Occasionally, someone will steal a farm pickup … Continue reading

Farmers Need Help Adapting to Climate Change

Last week the U.N. released a report that clearly stated that the world’s food supply is threatened by climate change. It received quite a bit of attention from the media, including this article in the New York Times. Any time … Continue reading

Confused Onions: The Sequel

Back in the spring I wrote a newsletter about our confused onions that went to seed instead of making edible bulbs for us to harvest. While we were initially disappointed, our attitude changed when we found out seed for that … Continue reading

Everyone’s Favorite Tractor

If you drive around a rural area, you’ll see some big, shiny new tractors out in the fields just about every day. But during the busiest times of year — planting and harvest seasons — you’ll see plenty of old … Continue reading

Nicest July Ever

Just this week we added yet another feature to our list of social media resources: a Terra Firma Farm You Tube channel. We will use this channel every once in a while to post videos of cool stuff that we … Continue reading

All the Colors of a Sunrise, in a Peach

Way back in 2003 when a group of our CSA subscribers helped us first secure a piece of land with the security to plant fruit trees, we decided to focus primarily on Peaches and Nectarines. Taken together, these so-called “stone … Continue reading

Cucumbers and their Diabolical Pests

Growing cucumbers organically is challenging just about everywhere in the continental U.S. thanks to a small pest with a big appetite. Two actually. Cucumber beetles are the size and shape of Ladybugs, but that is where their similarities end. These … Continue reading

Interactive Tomato Identification Guide

Happy July 4th Holiday! We’ve packed you a seasonally appropriate box of produce this week; more on that below. With tomato season hitting its full stride this week, we present the following interactive textual Ven diagram to help you figure … Continue reading

Stuck in the February Mud: A Tomato Tale

Tomato season kicked into full gear at Terra Firma over the weekend, as you will see in your boxes today. As TFF subscribers, you are sharing the harvest of one of the only producing tomato fields in Northern California right … Continue reading

“Your Cheatin’ (Apricot) Heart”

If more country tunes were written by farmers, there would be a song about Apricots: how they love you and leave you with a broken heart and an empty bank account. Then, just when you are getting over them and … Continue reading

Celebrating the Annual Garlic Harvest

We have been growing Garlic at Terra Firma since, well, since before it was Terra Firma. In fact, when our founder Paul Holmes starting farming up, garlic and tomatoes were his primary crops. The climate in Winters is very close … Continue reading

Summer Starts…NOW!

Imagine you come to work on a Monday morning to find your workstation has been moved to a room with no climate control. Your job description has been changed without any notification. The project you were working on on Friday … Continue reading

Potatoes, Parsnips and Lessons Learned

There are many ways to learn your lesson farming, but many of them involve failure. I remember quite clearly arriving for the first time to work at Terra Firma (called Sky High Farm back then) in February of 1993. It … Continue reading

The Heartbreak of Rain on May Fruit

The storms that swept through California during the last week produced record amounts of rainfall as well as record cool temperatures for late May. They also ruined millions of dollars worth of cherries and strawberries. Cherries and Strawberries have a … Continue reading

The Sad Tale of the Confused Onions

Most vegetables go through a series of life stages including vegetative growth, flowering, fruiting and senescence (aka, “death”). Our goal as humans — farmers, gardeners, and eaters — is generally to succeed in growing them until they produce the part … Continue reading

Tariffs and Tomatoes

If you’re paying attention to trade policy at all, you’ve probably heard that the Trump Administration is threatening to raise tariffs on Friday on a large part of the exports that China sends us, again. This news caused the stock … Continue reading

CSA and Climate Change

There’s a lengthy series in the New York Times this week about farming and climate change that includes a “How-to” guide for consumers to reduce the carbon footprint of their diet. I would guess that most TFF subscribers are already … Continue reading

Berry Season has Begun.

Strawberry season is here! We started harvesting a trickle of strawberries last week from our field; mostly too late to get them into your CSA boxes. But we knew that with summer-like temperatures coming this week, the numbers would jump … Continue reading

A Shout-Out to the Production Crew

On our farm, “the harvest” is a daily, never-ending activity that involves the majority of our team’s time and energy. Picking the crops, washing them, sorting them and packing them is a year-round activity. Anyone who calls this “unskilled labor”, … Continue reading

The Revenge of the Fungi

The use of antibiotics in conventional livestock production has made meat cheap and abundant, but it has also contributed to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacterias like E. Coli and Salmonella. Now, a new drug-resistant pathogen is spreading rapidly through hospitals … Continue reading

Foraging in our own Fields

During the fall, spring, and winter I enjoy foraging for wild mushrooms in our fields as well as the surrounding woods. We don’t get many of the exciting varieties that Bay Area mushroom hunters treasure, like chanterelles or morels. But … Continue reading

Suburban Sprawl is not Climate-Smart

Almost ten years ago, Yolo County (where Winters is located) came out with a preliminary study identifying major sources of carbon pollution here. Compared to other counties surrounding us, we don’t actually have much. There is very little industry here, … Continue reading

“Doing the Right Thing” isn’t always the right thing to do

During the numerous winter storms of 2019, much of our farm was covered with lush green plants grown specifically to protect the soil from wind and rain. Cover crops, as they are know, are a core component of our organic … Continue reading

There’s no rushing Asparagus

Of all the crops we grow, asparagus is one of the least predictable and most temperamental. For the centuries that it has been grown, this has made it a difficult and risky crop to plant. And yet up until twenty … Continue reading

Hang in There

Right around know, you are hoping for something completely different in your TFF CSA boxes. Not just a different type of cabbage or citrus, but something entirely different from the stuff you’ve been getting from us all winter. Despite the … Continue reading

Getting a Sneak Peak at your box…Every week.

We frequently get requests to post a list of the CSA box contents early in the week so people know what other food they need to buy each week. We’ve tried to do it a few times, but haven’t kept … Continue reading

Your Source for Rain-Fed Produce

“Hi, I’m a Terra Firma vegetable, and it’s been 120 days since my last drink.” There aren’t many places in the United States where you can reliably grow fresh fruits and vegetables in the winter without irrigation. In most of … Continue reading

Rain and Weeds

There’s a very simple way to kill most weeds for much of the year California. You simply cut the plant’s root just below the soil, or better yet, pull the root out of the ground and leave it lying there. … Continue reading

Getting Munched by Munchery

If you live in the SF Bay Area, you have probably heard the news about the prepared-meal delivery company Munchery, who shut their doors and their bank accounts recently without paying their vendors or employees. I’m sorry for anyone affected … Continue reading

Guest D.J. — Alicia

Hi All, Alicia here! I have been working here at Terra Firma for a little over a year now, focusing on CSA coordination and sales with our stores, restaurants and wholesalers. Pablito is handing the mic to me this week … Continue reading

Welcome to “January Thaw”

Yesterday morning if you looked east from some of our fields you could clearly see the snow-topped mountains of the Sierra Nevada, all the way from Mt. Lassen in the north down to the peaks South of Lake Tahoe. Thanks … Continue reading

A Rant and a Recipe

Skimming one of the numerous articles in the news media this week about the federal government shutdown, one number jumped out at me: $23,000.   That’s the amount that an entry level TSA worker makes.  This year, even Terra Firma’s lowest … Continue reading

A Wet Start to 2019

Happy New Year! I would guess that most people, given the choice, would prefer rain to come during the week while they are at work instead of on the weekends.  Obviously if you work outside, as mostly we do here … Continue reading

Was 2018 a Good Year?

The question that everyone asks a farmer in late December is “Did you have a good year?”  They are generally referring to your crop or crops, and for some farmers the question is easily answered.  For example, our neighbors who … Continue reading

It’s Hard to Fool Weeds

Every year as fall transitions into winter, and again as winter changes to spring, something amazing — and a little terrifying (for a farmer) happens in our fields.  The weeds in our fields change.  The warmth- and sunshine-loving weeds that … Continue reading

Making Aromatic Memories

When I was a child, we often drove past a General Foods factory where they made bouillon cubes.  I still remember the smell of homemade soup cooking wafting through the car windows.  This week, you will smell that same fragrance when … Continue reading

Know your Farmer, know your Food (is safe)

There’s nothing like finishing six days worth of farm work in two and a half days and then coming home to find out that the federal government has issued a recommendation that no one eat any Romaine lettuce — especially … Continue reading

Happy Wet (we hope) Thanksgiving!

The person who invented the three-day summer weekend was not a farmer — it’s hard enough to stop work for one day during that time of year when days are long and crops never stop growing, much less three. Thanksgiving … Continue reading

Fire & Ice, on the same day

The past week has been a nightmare for the thousands of people in California who have been displaced from them homes, many of them permanently.  And while some disasters are highly localized, the smoke from the fires has covered much … Continue reading

A Halloween Bug Tale

Happy Halloween! Just in time for the season, we’ve got a horde of scary black and orange monsters rampaging through our fields.  Unfortunately, they are not cute kids dressed in costumes, but rather unwanted insect visitors.  And they are feasting … Continue reading

Too Much Plastic!

I wanted to address a few issues that subscribers have communicated with us recently in this week’s newsletter. First: Plastic.  We have entered the time of year when there starts to be more plastic in your boxes.  Several subscribers have raised … Continue reading

Caring for Carrots

Carrots are challenging for us to grow here most of the year.  If they could talk, they would tell you that their preferred climate would be drizzling, foggy and cool.  And yet, in order for us to harvest carrots in fall … Continue reading

Sixteen Weeks of Tomatoes

We harvested our first few tomatoes this year way back on June 20th and sent them along to you.  Since then, they have been a regular component of your boxes each and every one of the sixteen weeks that have … Continue reading

2018 Pistachio Harvest: Just in Time

All over California right now, tree trunks are being mechanically shaken so hard that nuts rain down everywhere.  Almonds and walnuts are shaken onto the ground by metal claws attached to a hydraulic arm attached to a tractor.  They are … Continue reading

Blockchain will not make your Salad Safer

By now most people know the term “Blockchain”.  They know that a small group of people fervently believe it is a technology that is going to change the world, or at the very least make them rich.  But few people … Continue reading

The Mystery of the Missing Garlic

There’s no such thing as “perfect” in farming.  Unfortunately, that is rarely obvious — especially to consumers.  For every spotless, perfect, uniform piece of fruit or vegetable in the store, there is an ugly, pockmarked, moldy or otherwise entirely unperfect … Continue reading

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Terra Firma’s Aerial Defense Squad

Late summer is Dragonfly season in Terra Firma’s fields.  Every day around sunset, thousands of them take to the air en masse, hovering and swooping over our tomato, melon and other fields.  I enjoy watching them, but until recently I had … Continue reading

Countdown to Equinox

We’re a week away from the Fall Equinox, and despite all the hot weather we’ve been having, summer is wrapping up on our farm.  It’s true that it can stay plenty hot in the Sacramento Valley this time of year … Continue reading

Spending the Summer Under Cover

Cover crops — crops grown specifically to improve the soil rather than to produce income — are a critical part of our farming practices at Terra Firma.  In the winter, over half our land is normally “covered”.  But since we … Continue reading