As a parent, especially a new one, simple tasks like just going grocery shopping can be inconvenient, if not downright difficult. Fortunately, you can get healthy, organic food delivered right to your doorstep or to a convenient local pickup area here in Marin through a local farm's CSA or an organic grocery delivery service. These services all feature locally grown or produced, sustainable food—perfect for the locavore family!
What's a CSA? CSA stands for "community supported agriculture", and it's a way for consumers to get involved with local farms and food producers, support their efforts, and get great seasonal food, too. Every week, or month, or whatever time period you choose, you'll get a box full of fresh produce, eggs, meat, and more, ready to be incorporated into your family meal plan. Some farms, like Petaluma's Tara Firma Farms, offer other benefits to their CSA members, like special events and farm tours.
Most of the time, the farms choose what goes in subscribers' boxes, but that's usually a good thing, since they know what's at the peak of season. Prices for CSA boxes vary depending on the farm and the size and frequency of the box.
Sound interesting? Here's our list of local CSAs that deliver to areas within Marin County. Many of them deliver or offer drop off sites in San Francisco, Sonoma County, and the East Bay, as well (check their websites for exact locations). We've made sure to note which CSAs offer delivery right to your door, too.
Whenever we visit Petaluma, we stop by the farm store at Green String Farm to do some grocery shopping. Located just east of town on Old Adobe Road, this sustainable local farm is just overflowing with amazing fresh produce, especially in late summer. Their fruits and vegetables are amazing and affordable, and their farming practices actually exceed organic guidelines—they even have their own "Green String" certification program. If you haven't shopped here, it's definitely worth the trip up to Petaluma.
Green String Farm's farm store is situated in the middle of their 140-acre agricultural plot. Take in sweeping views of cultivated fields, orchards, vineyards, and the Sonoma County hills beyond. The farmstand carries just about every local seasonal fruit or vegetable you can imagine, from apples, Asian pears, and stone fruits to peppers, heirloom tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, greens, beets, eggplant, squash, and fresh herbs.
Chili is one of those meals that can be on the hearty, heavy side and not something you necessarily want to eat for a summer dinner—except for this fresh and healthy version. For this summer chili, I lighten things up considerably and take advantage of fresh summer produce like the zucchini growing in our backyard garden and sweet corn.
Serve this chili with a variety of toppings and add-ons so each diner can customize it to his or her taste. You can make it vegetarian (or vegan, really) by omitting the ground turkey and doubling the amount of beans and squash. Either way, it's delicious! And our kids even eat it, too. There's probably no reason you couldn't make this year-round, either, although you'd have to subsitute frozen corn for the fresh.
This spring and summer, the Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden on the grounds of College of Marin's Indian Valley Campus is a great place to get organic fruits and veggies. A project of College of Marin, Conservation Corps North Bay, and the UC Cooperative Extension, this 5.8-acre certified organic education farm and garden is open to the public for produce shopping on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm from March through October.
Bring your own bags and browse the farm stand for a wide variety of seasonal produce grown right there on-site. Right now, you can get artichokes, beets, radishes, chard, kale, leeks, and more. They also sell plants like poppies and other flowers, fruit trees, and several kinds of strawberry plants.
U-pick time is almost here! Starting Sunday, May 25, Bloomfield Organics family farm (formerly known as Bloomfield Farms) will be open on the last Sunday of every month for you and your kids to not only see where your food comes from, but to pick your own seasonal organic produce, too! This certified organic family farm is located in the rolling hills west of Petaluma, and it's a short scenic drive from anywhere in Marin. It's a lot of fun, and at $40 for a large box of vegetables, it's a great deal, too.
The Collins Family and the staff at the farm are warm and welcoming and happy to help and explain about the different crops growing at the farm. Head out into the fields and pick exactly what you and your family want. Crops include, depending on the time of year, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, lettuce, cabbage, beans, squash, celery, fresh herbs, beets, and more.
You'll also be able to buy other goods like eggs, strawberries, plant starts, and farm-made products at the farm stand. On most u-pick weekends, Chef Matt Elias will be on hand for a delicious "pay what you can" brunch made with fresh produce and eggs from the farm and other local producers. The brunch will not be offered on May 25, so bring a picnic to enjoy on the farm instead.
This time of year always has a way of making us ready for the warm days of spring and summer. And of course with those thoughts of warm months come dreams of our spring and summer vegetable garden! For the last few years, we've really made an effort to put in a substantial vegetable garden in our backyard. The children love to help pick out the seeds, plant them, water the plants, and pick the vegetables (and eat them, too), so it's a fun, educational, and tasty, experience for them.
Our first task of the season is always to go get our seeds. We always go the heirloom route—they're so much more fun than your plain old (ahem) garden variety vegetables—and we buy our seeds at the Petaluma Seed Bank, the West Coast outpost of the fantastic Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield, Missouri. They stock a vast array of seeds for a wide variety of vegetables, many of which you probably didn't know existed.
Here's another delicious Thanksgiving side dish recipe from our friends at Agricultural Community Events Farmers Markets, the non-profit group that puts on the Marinwood, Downtown Novato, Fairfax, Petaluma East, and Santa Rosa Community Farmers' Markets, among others. This one features everyone's favorite healthy leafy green—kale. What's great about this recipe is it tells you which farmers' market vendors you can buy the ingredients from!
5 tablespoon olive oil (Big Paw at Marinwood Community Farmers' Market has great California Olive Oil, Bannono Olive Oil at Santa Rosa Community Farmers' Market, Wylands Orchard at Petaluma East Side Farmers' Market has olive oil from Petaluma, Nan's Gourmet at Petaluma East Side Farmers' Market)
1/3 cup chopped almonds (Noeller Farms at Marinwood Farmers' Market or Redel's Almond at Petaluma East Side and Santa Rosa Farmers' Market)
2 medium red onions, sliced (Calvillo Brothers at Marinwood Community Farmers Market, Ortiz Brothers at Marinwood, Petaluma East Side and Santa Rosa)
4 clove(s) garlic finely chopped (Krout's Sunset Ranch at Petaluma East Side Farmers' Market, Laguna Farm at Petaluma East Side Farmers' Market and Ortiz Brothers at Marinwood Community Farmers' Market)
Here's another delicious Thanksgiving side dish recipe from our friends at Agricultural Community Events Farmers Markets, the non-profit group that puts on the Marinwood, Downtown Novato, Fairfax, Petaluma East, and Santa Rosa Community Farmers' Markets, among others. What's great about this recipe is it tells you which farmers' market vendors you can buy the ingredients from!
5 celery ribs, thinly sliced - Calvillo Brothers (Marinwood Farmers Market), Ortiz Brothers (Marinwood, Petaluma East Side, and Santa Rosa at the Veterans Building)
2 medium onions, chopped - Lots of options here, Tolay Valley Farm (Marinwood Farmers Market), Calvillo Brothers (Marinwood Farmers Market), Ortiz Brother (Marinwood, Petaluma East Side, and Santa Rosa at the Veterans Building), First Light Farm (Petaluma East Side Farmers Market)
Here's a delicious Thanksgiving side dish recipe from our friends at Agricultural Community Events Farmers Markets, the non-profit group that puts on the Marinwood, Downtown Novato, Fairfax, Petaluma East, and Santa Rosa Community Farmers' Markets, among others. What's great about this recipe is it tells you which farmers' market vendors you can buy the ingredients from!
8 medium carrots, chopped (Calvillo Brothers at Marinwood Farmers' Market, Ortiz Brothers at Marinwood, Petaluma East Side Farmers and Santa Rosa Farmers' Market, Tolay Valley Farm at Marinwood Farmers Market)
4 tablespoon unsalted butter (Springhill Cheese at Petaluma East Side and Santa Rosa Farmers' Market) plus more for ramekins
1 small onion finely chopped (Calvillo Brothers at Marinwood Community Farmers Market, Ortiz Brothers at Marinwood, Petaluma East Side and Santa Rosa)