Yesterday I drove to SMIP Ranch, the organic farm I worked at over the summer. SMIP an acronym for sic manebimus in pace, Latin for “thus we will remain in peace”. It really is one of the happiest and most peaceful place I know of, and just a day there, can transform you. They cater to local high-end restaurants that highlight their heirloom varieties of organic produce. One of the chefs from the Village Pub (http://www.thevillagepub.net/) has even described the farm saying: “The place itself is so dramatically beautiful, when you walk into it, it’s awe-inspiring.” The pictures don’t do it justice, but you get the picture.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Woodside-chef-s-cuisine-rooted-in-boutique-ranch-2606497.php#ixzz2PWyTpDqv
It’s been a while since my last visit, because of my crazy work schedule this winter, but I was reminded of how much I love having my hands in the dirt and being in this beautiful setting for a day thinking about food and having the most wonderful conversations with the couple who runs the farm (and the only two permanent workers– I still don’t know how they do it).
Depending on the season they’ll have me help with forming the beds and getting them ready to plant, planting, weeding, shoveling compost, harvesting, and packing boxes for their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Since its early Spring, they are getting ready for some serious planting so yesterday we were shoveling a lot of compost onto the beds and applying nutrients (like nitrogen and phosphate– I like to think of them as multivitamins) to the soil. There are more dreamy things than shoveling compost and having the smell of chicken feathers and bone meal on your hands, but it gives me a greater appreciation for the end result- fabulous, nutrient-rich, tasty food!
After working for 7 hours and taking a 1 hour break for lunch in their adorable barn-style house, I felt totally renewed. I left with handfuls of fresh mint, a few bunches of heirloom radishes, four garlic bulbs, a large bunch of fresh spring onions, a bag of heirloom mixed greens, and a nice mint plant (below).
I also got about 15 different kinds of seeds fro them to start my own spring garden (ie. melons, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, okra, spinach, kale, tomatoes, kohlrabi, turnips, carrots, beets, onions, etc). Since I don’t have a garden myself, I’m starting some of the seeds indoors (for about 4-6 weeks) until they are a few inches tall, then I’m going to transplant them into a friend’s garden so they can grow to full size. At that time I’ll plant the other root vegetables and heartier seeds that can be planted directly in the soil (like the beets, turnips, onions, carrots, lettuces, chard, kale, etc).
Last night I had my friend Fernando over to eat some farm fresh produce. We grilled the onions on my cast iron pan with a sprinkle of sea salt until they were soft and sweet, ate the radishes sprinkled with salt and chili pepper, and made bunches of mixed baby greens sprinkled with a mixture of chili pepper, salt and dehydrated lime and wrapped with prosciutto which we ate with aged manchego cheese. We also had some leftover whole-wheat pasta with pesto sausage, chicken and shrimp that we made the night before and added fresh oregano. And of course fresh mint tea after dinner. Simple and absolutely delicious.
Since my schedule is a lot less hectic this Spring, just working at Stanford part-time and a trip to the East Coast for my birthday, I’m going to try to make my visits to the farm more frequent. They recently got bees (30,000) at the farm to pollinate and also use for honey! So, I’m excited to try some of the honey when it’s ready and also fish in their pond which is stocked with fresh sea bass- they recently caught a 2-pounder! I’ll keep you posted on my garden project.
P.s. Lauren, Good news. I finally figured out how to make my pictures larger! Just drag and drop instead of upload. Couldn’t be easier. Just took me some time to figure out. Anyway… hope you’re having a great week. I loved the graphic novel idea. Maybe that would make a good bday gift? : )