Member News

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

Survey Says…

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

Equinox Update

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

Fill’er Up!

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

Gully Washer

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

Berry Planting Time

Every year on or around Labor Day, we plant the strawberry patch that will provide the berries for your boxes next spring — and the berries for you to pick on Farm Day.  We took advantage of a nice cool … Continue reading

Proposition 37 and Assembly Bills 2676 and 2346

Several TFF subscribers have emailed me in the last month or so asking about my position on Proposition 37, the voter initiative that would require all products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to be labeled. It turns out it doesn’t … Continue reading

Cell Phone Time Machine

When people talk about technology, they are usually talking about computers and the internet.  In agriculture, GPS or drip irrigation are usually mentioned.  But the technology that may have benefited agriculture the most in the last twenty years is now … Continue reading

Heat Wave!

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good old fashioned August heat wave in Northern California.  In fact, the eighth month of the year in 2011 and 2010 was much cooler than normal, especially the nights.  But the weather … Continue reading

Watermelon Harvest Secrets

Many of the vegetables and fruits we grow in the summer have been bred over the years to tell us when they are ripe:  tomatoes turn from light green to pink/yellow/green; sweet peppers do the same.  All the melons we … Continue reading

Cucumbers’ #1 Fans

Dear (Contact First Name), Cucumbers.  You either love them, or well, you just don’t pay that much attention to them. Unfortunately for us, there are two insect pests that love cucumber  so much, they are actually named after them.  They … Continue reading

Valley with No Name

We farm in a valley that has no name.  The Wintun band of Native Californians who inhabited this area for millenia certainly had a name for it, but somehow in the 150 years since the first European settlers arrived here, … Continue reading

Tomato Roulette

Heirloom tomatoes may be a tomato-lover’s dream, but they are very close to being a farmer’s nightmare.  We have spent almost twenty years growing them, and yet each year is like spinning a giant roulette wheel.  Each year there are … Continue reading

Dependence Day

Happy Fourth of July!  The Harvest Moon rose over the farm at dusk last night and was still shining at dawn today, a very fitting accompaniment to the abundance that is coming out of our fields right now.  It’s a … Continue reading

Dirt is Good for You

The news about the release of the Human Biome Project data generated some related commentary in the media last week.  My personal favorite was a piece in the New York Times by Dr. Jeff Leach that used the HBP as … Continue reading

Important News: 4th of July Delivery

Important Delivery Information:  The Fourth of July is next Wednesday and some folks have asked us if we are going to deliver CSA boxes that day.  The answer is “YES”!, boxes will be delivered as normal.   We apologize for … Continue reading

The Universe Inside Us and Under Our Feet

Have you ever wondered, while you are driving through rual parts of California, why certain crops are grown in certain places and not in others?  Climate plays an enormous role:  some crops like it hot and others do not.  And … Continue reading


It’s always a tough decision to let go.  All the years of time invested — for better or for worse, all that hard work.  You’ve spent some of the best years of your life together.  Maybe you grew up together, … Continue reading

Magic Beans and the Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen is the most abundant element in our atmosphere and we breath it in and breath it out without absorbing it at all.  And yet, nitrogen is a precious resource that both governs and limits the growth of living organisms.  … Continue reading

New & Improved

A few months ago I promised you that we would be making improvements to the Terra Firma website to make it a better resource for subscribers and I am happy to announce that the revamped site will go live this … 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