Member News

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

Arbo-Psychology

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

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Power’s Out: The Aftermath

At Terra Firma, we rely utterly on PG&E not just to keep the lights on, but to run our irrigation, washing and drinking water pumps and refrigerate our produce. But for the many people who might take it for granted … Continue reading

Power’s Out!

We woke up this morning with no electricity on the farm.  The powers that be at PGE in their infinite wisdom shut the lights off just after midnight.  For Terra Firma, that means our coolers and irrigation pumps are not … Continue reading

The Orange Glow of Autumn (Produce)

Orange is getting a bad name right now, what with all the crazy news coming out of Washington these days. That’s unfortunate, now that it’s fall.  I would hazard a guess that if you gave people a box of crayons … Continue reading