Member News

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

Are Organic Eaters Jerks?

Perhaps someone has sent you an article or you’ve seen the link to a new study(apparently not a joke) that has “determined” that people who eat organic food are more likely to be “jerks” than those who don’t eat it.  … Continue reading

Hyping Local Foods

Folks who live in the Bay Area, New York metro area, and other urban metropolises may be under the impression that “local food” is the biggest force affecting agriculture right now.  That’s because when media outlets in urban areas cover … Continue reading

Tomato Cam

It happened last Friday.  It was a warm day — hot for this time of year — and quite windy.  If you work with plants, it is the kind of day that makes you constantly anxious about their well-being.  You … Continue reading

Quarterly Report to Shareholders

The first four months of 2012 saw a distinct break with trends established during the previous eight quarters (2 years), as meteorological conditions shifted away from persistent cold low pressure systems that had dramatically impacted the farm’s production.  In their … Continue reading

“Agent Orange” Corn

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are making headlines this week as the federal government moves towards approving another crop that is modified to resist herbicides. But this time, the herbicide is not the catchily-named, consumer-friendly Roundup ™. Instead, it is … Continue reading

CSA’s In The News

There’s a long article in the food section of Sunday’s SF Chronicle exploring the culinary possibilities available by subscribing to a local CSA, including a series of recipes featuring seasonal produce. The article focuses primarily on one of our sister … Continue reading

Planting Puzzler

What crops do you think Terra Firma grows the most acreage of? The largest amount of? Which crop has the longest season? As you all know, we harvest crops from our fields 50 weeks out of every year, and we … Continue reading

April Showers

We got a nice soaking in Northern California over the last three weeks, desperately needed after one of the driest winters on the books. Around here, we prefer to get rain during the usually cold , dark months of December, … Continue reading

Diesel & Dust

We’re not Luddites here at Terra Firma, despite being organic farmers. As you all are probably aware, we take full advantage of the latest computer technology whenever possible to help make our business more efficient. As I write this, we … Continue reading

A Victory on Strawberry Fumigants

Happy First Day of Spring! It feels a little strange to be saying those words this year, since we haven’t seen much winter weather at all in 2012 — until last week anyway. Supporters of organic and sustainable agriculture everywhere … Continue reading

Planting Tomatoes in Sunny March

It’s been an exciting week at Terra Firma, maybe a little more exciting than we would like. With this week’s big storm forecast more than seven days out, we took advantage of the dry weather to plant our first tomatoes. … Continue reading

Scavenger Hunt for Late Winter Vegetables

Planning our your weekly boxes is always a central activity of our week here at Terra Firma, starting the prior week and continuing into Monday and Tuesday. Paul Holmes and our Harvest Manager Efrain spend several hours checking the fields … Continue reading

Potatoes – Planting Spuds Early

We took advantage of the warm weather and dry soil last week to plant the first few potatoes of 2012. Planting spuds in February is a bit risky: if the tubers sprout quickly and emerge from the soil during a … Continue reading

Pesticides – Studies & Safety

You may or may not have noticed that I don’t spend much time in this newsletter discussing pesticides. I find it to be a tricky subject to discuss. On the one hand, there is a widespread perception that organic farmers … Continue reading

What This Warm February Means for Crops & What’s in the Greenhouse

It might feel like May, but it is still February, and even in California there aren’t too many crops that want to be planted outside.  February is a suckers month — especially when it’s this warm.  You can plant potatoes, … Continue reading

Crops Feeling the Effects of December & January Cold

In case I haven’t mentioned it lately, I’d like to remind all our subscribers that we had a really rough six weeks back in December and January. Most of our greens — kales and chards — got clobbered by the … Continue reading

Food Safety, Monsanto & Washington

Two twelve packs of soda. A giant loaf of Wonder Bread. A jumbo pack assortment of Frito Lays chips. And a gallon of milk. I watched in silence as the man in front of me at the local supermarket unloaded … Continue reading

The Weather & FDA Logic

Once again, the primary driver of the news here at Terra Firma this week was…the weather. After over a month without a drop of rain — and two months of almost entirely dry weather — we got three storms in … Continue reading

The Walnut “Drug” & Asian Pear Recommendation

Walnuts are good for you, right? A natural source of Omega-3 oils, same as fish oil but better tasting…good for your heart… Multiple studies have shown the connection, it’s pretty well established. Walnut growers and processors seemed to think so, … Continue reading

Where Our Water Comes From & What To Do With Asian Pears

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012! If you’ve been around for the last two weeks, you’ve probably been enjoying the warm, sunny — and dry — weather we’ve been having. Forecasters tell us that it is fairly common to … 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