Tag Archives: Kashiwase Farms

Monday Morning Distractions – Temescal Farmers Market

3 Aug

I enjoy the Temescal Farmers Market year round, going almost every Sunday when I’m in town, but during the summer, it’s something I look forward to all week long. A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I went to the market, and she took some beautiful pictures of the summer bounty.

Tomatoes

Our first stop at the market is always for tomatoes. These heirlooms were at Happy Boy Farms.

Happy Boy also had a great variety of squashes, though we never purchase these since we grow more than we can consume.

Happy Boy also had a great variety of squashes, though we never purchase these since we grow more than we can consume.

The best part about Kashiwase Farms is their tasting station, filled with peaches, nectarines, and plums.

The best part about Kashiwase Farms is their tasting station, filled with peaches, nectarines, and plums.

Flowers are always in abundance at the market, but this week, there were also artichoke flowers from a Santa Cruz area farm. Artichoke flowers are so beautiful that some of our neighbors allow them to bloom instead of picking them to eat.

Flowers are always in abundance at the market, but this week, there were also artichoke flowers from a Santa Cruz area farm. Artichoke flowers are so beautiful that some of our neighbors allow them to bloom instead of picking them to eat.

Our favorite stop at the market is Twin Girls Farm, which at this time of year is full with peaches, plums, nectarines, and pluots. They sell soft fruit for $1 a pound, which we use for smoothies and baking.

Our favorite stop at the market is Twin Girls Farm, which at this time of year is full with peaches, plums, nectarines, and pluots. They sell soft fruit for $1 a pound, which we use for smoothies and baking.

Fall’s Here

4 Nov

It could be argued that it’s been here for some time now, but as I’ve written here before, I track Bay Area seasons by produce, not by weather.

I didn’t make it to the Temescal Farmer’s Market last Sunday, but as I walked up to the market this morning, I immediately could tell that it was no longer summer. The market’s thinned out significantly. No more Kashiwase Farms, with their juicy assortment of peaches, nectarines, plums, and pluots. Lucero Farms had also disappeared, and along with them, their summer squash, zucchini, and a dozen varieties of tomatoes, from Green Zebra to Brandywine. The crowds of shoppers had also thinned out, though the market was still busy.

end-of-summer.jpgAs I wandered through the market, I picked up what will likely be some of the last fruits of the summer harvest: some bright yellow tomatoes and sweetly-pungent basil from Happy Boy Farms, and a pound of strawberries grown in Watsonville. (I also froze a few pounds of strawberries in October, knowing what a treat they’ll be in a few months.)

Though I’m sad to see the summer go, I’ve come to grow fond of fall (and even winter) produce in the Bay Area. Growing up, I always thought apples were edible, but I never thought much about their taste. Now though, I think of them as such a treat. Though a few farms offer apples at the Sunday market, I’m loyal to MacDonald’s Organic Farm. I highly recommend the unknown variety (really, that’s what they’re called), Fuji, and Jonagold. All of them have a balanced mix of sweet and tart. Be careful though – you’ll need a napkin to eat one because the juices will likely drip down your chin.

Persimmons are also a fairly new favorite of mine, since I never even tasted one until I moved to the East Bay! I like to munch on them, thinly sliced, with nuts. Or I add them to salads. They’re also scrumptious with many cheeses.

I pick up persimmons and other goodies at Twin Girls Farm, which has become my favorite farm stand to visit. Maybe it’s that the family who works at the stand has always been overly friendly, and they’re never shy to explain about odd fruits (like jujubes) or offer samples. I also like to support them because while much of their produce is certified organic, some of it is “transitioning”. Lacking the official organic stamp, I know others might be skeptical and shop elsewhere, but it seems pretty clear to me that they’re moving towards 100% organic. (KQED featured a nice piece about Twin Girls, complete with a slide show of the inner working of their farm.)

After picking out three small Fuyu persimmons, including this strange looking one below, I was excited to grab some of the remains of summer and a preview of winter. Grapes will soon be gone from the market so I plucked a couple large bunches. And to my surprise, Twin Girls is already offering tangerines! I practically live on citrus fruit during the winter and am excited to taste these…

freak-persimmon.jpg twin-girls.jpg

Unfortunately, some fall produce is missing from the Temescal market. No farmers offer pears, asian pears, or figs! So I’ve only had a few pears this season that I picked up from the downtown Berkeley market, and I have splurged on some local organic figs at Whole Foods, though I try to avoid buying produce outside of farmers’ markets. So if you know farmers that offer these fruits, tell them to head over to Temescal next fall because they’ll make a lot of money and make me very happy.

Fall’s not completely about fruit though, and I did pick up some purple cauliflower, red peppers, and king oyster mushrooms. Here’s what I’ll be cooking with and devouring this week:

cauliflower-peppers.jpg

fruit.jpg

Summer’s gone, but I’m glad to know fall’s here.

What’s Happened to the Jack London Square Farmer’s Market?

7 Oct

As you might already know, I religiously wake up on Sunday mornings and walk down to the Temescal Farmer’s Market. Though some think it’s small, it’s the perfect size for me, and I can almost always find what I need (except on those days I sleep too late and arrive when the best stuff has already been snatched up).

Well, today I happened to be near Jack London Square so I thought I’d check out the market. It’s been 2 or 3 years since I’ve been there, but I remembered it as a very long market with dozens of stalls. I remembered crowds of people picking up produce, breads, prepared foods, soaps, and crafts.

Either my memory’s a bit off, or the market has significantly declined over the past years. Today it seemed to be but a shadow of my memory. It was still long, spanning several blocks, but the stands were spaced fairly far from each other, and on the last block their were only four or five stands.

As I walked into the market, I quickly spotted Happy Boy Farms and snagged some lettuce, since I know they always have the best selection. I passed up their tomatoes though, thinking there would be at least a few other farmers selling tomatoes (I like to spread my money throughout the market). As I walked through the market though, I started to realize that spending money at various stands would not be an easy task.

Besides Happy Boy, there were about three other stands selling organic vegetables. One of them had tomatoes, but they didn’t look very good. The rest of them featured squash, peppers, greens, broccoli, etc. Most of it looked pretty good, but none of those items were on my short shopping list, which consisted of lettuce, tomatoes, basil and pears.

I kept my eye out for basil (an item I sometimes miss at Temescal when I sleep in). I found some conventionally grown basil and some organic basil, but the bunches were all wilted, severely sunburned and full of holes bugs had chewed in them. Now, I’m a forgiving shopper at farmers’ markets, but this was a bit much for me so I ended up skipping that purchase.

Two stands sold pears, but they were conventional and didn’t look very appealing so I skipped those too and opted instead for some plums from Kashiwase Farms (only one week before the season’s over!). For the tomatoes, I ended up backtracking to revisit Happy Boy and pick up some beautiful organic heirlooms.

The market wasn’t a total waste though. I did pick up some yummy Beckman’s bread (local, not organic) and some Jasmine incense, neither of which I ever would have found at Temescal or any of the other markets I frequent.

This experience got me thinking and brought to mind an excellent blog post on The Ethicurean by Marc R. aka Mental Masala, discussing an SF Chronicle article about how farmers’ markets can sometimes hurt farmers and discussing the exodus of many farmers from the markets. The Chronicle article centers on the experience of the San Francisco Ferry Building market, which now is full of tourists who may want to purchase a couple prepared items but aren’t interested in lettuce, tomatoes, and kale.

As I purchased my lettuce today, I overheard a woman ask if it would be ok for her to save the lettuce overnight and fly back to Washington with it. I looked around at the shoppers and noticed that unlike at the Temescal or Berkeley markets, they mostly were not weighed down by full bags of produce. One man carried a single baggett to his car. Others ate prepared food, but were carrying no groceries. Were these tourists, or just more casual shoppers than I’m used to?

Another issue brought up by Marc’s post and the Chronicle article is that the Bay Area is now flooded with farmers’ markets. This decreases the profitability of farmers at all the markets and in turn forces some farms to leave the markets altogether. I also wondered whether some of the farmers that used to sell produce at Jack London had migrated to Temescal, where it’s always crowded and it seems that nearly everyone is a serious shopper.

The only other explanation is that my memory is off. I used to be less picky about organic produce (though even the conventional produce today was not abundant), and several years ago, after moving here from LA, any farmer’s market was incredible for me. Also, I think it’s true that this market has always been less produce oriented and more focused on artisan items, such as soap, clothing, and jewelry.

If you’re a regular at the Jack London market or at least have some more experience there over the years than I do, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is the market really on a decline or am I just imagining this? And if it’s declining, why?

Summer’s Here

8 Jul

In the Bay Area, seasons aren’t very distinguishable by the weather. Some leaves change colors and fall off trees. And it does get a bit cooler during the winter and a bit warmer during the summer, but there’s no consistency.

So I’ve learned to track the seasons by produce. And over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that summer’s here. Tomatoes, apricots, corn, peaches, nectarines, avocados, and huge crowds at the farmers’ markets. Today, I had to push through a couple dozen people at the Happy Boy Farms stand at the Temescal Farmers’ Market to grab a few organic heirloom tomatoes. Don’t worry, they’ll be worth it:

Happy Boy Farms Tomatoes

And there are dozens of peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots available from various farmers. I’m still partial to Kashiwase Farms, which I’ve been patronizing for 6 years. Maybe it’s their incredible variety and sweet, organic fruit. Or maybe it’s their tasting display, that I just can’t resist:

Kashiwase Farms Tasting

Thanks to SF Gate for this photo.

My favorite’s right now are the Artic Sweet white nectarines, White Lady peaches, and the Honey Sweet yellow nectarines. Who needs candy when you have fruits that taste as sweet:

Peaches, Nectarines, Pluots, Yum!

And I think I might overdose on corn and avocados soon. They’re just so damn cheap and yummy at this time of year. Besides, my weirdo cat LOVES chewing on corn husks. I think they’re his favorite toy.

Corn Husks Avocados

Well, enough writing. I need to start thinking about what I’m going to cook this week. While I do that, I’ll keep munching on some yummy organic tamari almonds I picked up today from Lagier Ranches.

I love the summer…