5 Local Farmers Who are Doing it Right
After reading Beth Barrett's piece about farmers markets this week, it might be tempting to hang up the locavore hat and head out for an angsty and cathartic mouthful at the local McDonald's. We're envisioning an army of market goers asking to see papers at this coming weekend's markets. This isn't a bad thing, done politely, and is actually a step in the right direction as far as owning your responsibility as a consumer to stay informed. But we think it's important to give recognition to the hard working small farmers we know are doing it right.
Felicia Friesema The Hollywood market earlier this year.
We'll get to the certified organics in a minute. But we would be sorely remiss if we didn't note some of the small, certified California-grown farms who are doing local food right, but who cannot, for a whole host of reasons -- high cost, building locations on their properties, or proximity to other commercial operations -- handle the rigors of organic certification. Shear Rock Farms (Santa Paula), K&K Ranch (Orosi), Yingst Ranch (Littlerock), Peacock Family Farms (Dinuba),Yang Farms (Fresno), T&D Farms (Redlands), ABC Rhubarb (Fillmore) and J.J.'s Lone Daughter Ranch (Redlands) are several of these reputable small and certified local growers. Turn the page for an alphabetical list of 5 certified organic farmers: we've seen the certificates and visited some of them.
5. Finely Organics: This is a family-run operation headed up by Christopher Finely. You may not find him running the stand at Hollywood, Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, but you will likely find one of his family members. They are certified organic out of Santa Ynez and have some of the most gorgeous wintertime greens around. They are best known for their kale and baby greens, but we love them for the harder to find unusuals like organic popcorn (still on the cob) and garlic scapes. They also have delectable organic strawberries, too. You can find them at the Culver City, Solvang, Montecito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Monica, Los Olivos, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Studio City farmers markets each week.
4. Flora Bella: Based in Three Rivers, James Birch is the proud owner of one of the smallest but most steady providers of organic produce. He's only on a handful of acres but manages to pack in some good variety of both orchard and field crops. He dry farms tomatoes in the summer, yielding some of the most flavorful Italian heirlooms we've ever tried. And his stone fruit in the summertime just bursts with juice. But the thing he's really known for is his spicey arugula and winter squash. You'll find him manning the tables himself every week and the Santa Monica (Wednesday and Saturday) and Hollywood farmers markets.
Felicia Friesema Santa Rosa plums from Flora Bella.