This is the Weekly E-Newsletter of Contra Costa Certified Farmers' Markets for Friday, October 20, 2006
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From Chef Lesley Stiles:

Roasted Butternut Squash and Orange Soup

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Zest from 1 large orange
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup white wine
4 cups stock
1 cup half and half
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
Sea salt and pepper

Heat oven to 425°. Toss squash, onion and garlic with olive oil roast for 20 minutes until caramelized. Remove from oven and place into a large soup pot. Add the white wine and turn heat to high. Reduce by half and add the stock and orange zest. Bring back to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Add the half and half and puree with a stick blender. Season with salt and pepper.
Serves 4.

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This week's essay is from 2nd Prize winner in the Adult Category, Alicia Rozum of Oakland.

What the Farmer's Market Means to Me, my Family, and my Community

Alicia Rozum, Oakland

Organic? Locally grown? Sustainable? Huh?

The aforementioned queries are general responses from some unenlightened folks back in Youngstown, Ohio (or any economically-depressed, yet consumer-crazed Midwestern town) when I talk about my love of my local farmer's market. See, I'm from that faltering community, and I feel it's my designated duty as "the-one-who-got-out" to share my California ideals and progressiveness with uninformed friends, relatives, grocery-store clerks, waiters/waitresses, etc. who are still stuck there. The idea that one consumes fruits and vegetables that were grown in the United States, much less within a 100 mile radius, is completely foreign. Or so I thought.

If the last paragraph sounded a little elitist (a common affliction of Midwest-to-West Coast "transplants", partially induced by the trauma of leaving ones' immediate family and most important people in their life), don't worry, I've experienced a breakthrough. People in the Midwest (and south, and east coast, and even in Texas) actually know what Farmer's Markets are and would go to them, if available! This was a shocking revelation made to me on a recent trip to Madison, Wisconsin, where I had the pleasure (and somewhat chagrin) of visiting the largest and busiest Farmer's Market in the country. Anyway, I suddenly began to remember my roots (pun intended) in home-grown and local produce — the giant garden in our acre-sized backyard, in which my dad grew everything from corn to pumpkins; my grandfather canning hundreds of bottles of incredibly hot and tasty home-grown peppers; trips to White House Apple Farm in the fall for pick-yer-own Macintosh and press-yer-own cider; and even a rather painful memory of my father traveling to a local pig farm to have one slaughtered for our annual pig roast. So, okay, I wasn't the first and my "personal awakening"in the sunshine state is probably possible in places where it actually rains in the summer, too...

While it's probably true that a lot of communities in the Midwest aren't tuned into the organic, locally-grown, and sustainable eco-life, it's also true that "if you build it, they will come". If there was a market in Youngstown, I'm certain my grandparents (and practically everyone in their generation) would flock to it, not only to have produce that tastes how they remember it should, but also to have a safe and friendly community gathering place.  And, oh, how Youngstown schools would benefit from a gardening program, or from a cafeteria that doesn't put French fries on top of iceberg lettuce and call it a salad! I can already envision my mom and aunt combining their weekly "tomato and cucumber"overload to sell at a stand, maybe even throwing in a few garage sale items to keep things interesting. In other words, the market would take off, if only there was the economic, business, and political motivation to support it.

So why do I appreciate, no, adore, my local farmer's market? For all the reasons everyone else shops there—unbelievably fresh food, connection to community, a reason to get my a** out of bed on Sunday mornings — but mostly because my exposure to California Farmer's Markets have reawakened my childhood memories of those values. My family has always participated in the creation and consumption of sustainable food; always maintained a close network of friends and relatives connected through the preparation and sharing of meals; and always taught me that these things are a part of our familial culture — and that someday, I will be responsible for teaching the next generation the meaning of our values. I'll be happy to take on the task — when I walk my future children through our local farmer's market, I'll be sure to point out the gypsy peppers and say, "You know, your great-grandfather used to make people's eyes water, his garden peppers were so hot!".

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In this Issue:
Music: Bryan Harrison Band
Managers: Janice Faust & Karen Stiles. E-mail:
From Jan Faust, Co-Manager:
It's hard to believe, but there are only a few more weeks until the end of our season! I, for one will really miss the Martinez Farmers' Market. I have the added convenience of working at the Farmers' Market so shopping there is really easy. But when this Market ends, you will find me at the Walnut Creek Market on Sunday morning getting my fix of fresh produce. Shopping at the Farmers' Market has really improved the quality of my life. Like everyone, I often rush from one thing to the next and sometimes there's just no time to cook. In the past I may have been tempted to (gasp) stop for fast food but because of the Farmers' Market, I have a fridge full of fresh salad fixin's from Ibarra Cruz Farm that can be put together in a hurry. Lunches are easy to pack with all the varieties of fruit at the Market.  Right now, I'm into the grapes and fuyus from J and J Farm. I'm also crazy about the sun dried tomato hummus from East/West Gourmet with crispy veggies to dip. Easy, quick and healthy is what it is all about for me. I hope to see you at the Market this Sunday!
For more info

Music: Susanne Holland
Manager: Janice Faust. E-mail:
Orchard Nursery in Lafayette is hosting their ongoing Harvest Festival and this Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm Market Chef, Lesley Stiles will be doing an Apple Tasting with apples from the farmers' market. Be sure to come by to taste and compare the apples.
From Jan Faust, Manager:
I know we live in California, and we "don't have seasons" here. But I have always thought this time of year to be the most beautiful. I have passed many fall mornings at the Orinda Farmers' Market over the years and I'm always struck by the vibrant colors of the nearby trees. Nature has brought some lovely colors to the market stalls as well. Rose Lane Farm has bright orange pumpkins and some really eye catching gourds. Last week there was one that looked just like a swan! The children were most impressed. The flowers from Ruvalcaba Farm are screaming with orange, yellow and red and I saw many beautiful bouquets leave the Market this past week. My favorite fall offering is the fuyu persimmon. Not only are they the perfect fall orange color, but the crunchy sweetness just says autumn to me. Rosy apples and pomegranates abound. The weather report says it will be a great weekend to be outdoors so come down to the Orinda Farmers' Market and celebrate our colorful fall bounty. We will be waiting for you every Saturday, rain or shine through November 18. See you at the Market.
For more info

Pleasant Hill:
Music: Eddie Williams
Manager, Karen Stiles. E-mail:
From Karen Stiles, Manager:
Great weather! Little autumn, little summer. Nice change of seasons. The produce at the market reflects a change also. I saw quite a few winter squashes. The Sou Vang Farms and the Chong Vang Farms have some they call oriental squash and Rose Lane has some different squash also, Tennessee Sweet Potato Squash. Very large, but sold in cut pieces as are the Vang Farm squashes. We have a new vendor, Green Foods. Their product is Living, Organic, Flavored Seeds. Tamari-Flavored SunPump! Seeds, CheezieSunPlump! Flax Seeds and Berry Mango Trail Mix. The owner is Stephanie Hou, a resident of Pleasant Hill. Stop by her booth and say hi and try a sample. Look forward to trying some myself. The apple juices are still quite good as are the apples. The strawberries and blackberries are still coming in. I find the pear season to be one of the best ever and sure enjoy Alhambra Valley Pears. UpperCrust Bakery of Davis has a variety of flavored tortillas that are quite tasty and a good corn tortilla also. Big Paw Oils and Vinegars has some new oil and vinegar flavors that are available to sample at their booth-good stuff! Martinez Community Choral Group will be at the market this Saturday to sell raffle tickets for quilts they made for their fund raiser. Stop by and see their beautiful work. J&J Farms still has peaches, this can't last much longer, get them while you can. Jeneveve will have a free Yoga class in the community room from 10am to 11am Saturday. I savor these last days of the market for the season (we end this market Oct. 28). We are sure lucky to have such a nice place. Thanks for supporting the Farmers! See you Saturday!
For more info

Keith FarleyWalnut Creek:
Music: Jump-in-Acoustic Oldies from 40's to 90's
Manager: Keith Farley. E-mail:
Orchard Nursery in Lafayette is hosting their ongoing Harvest Festival and this Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm Market Chef, Lesley Stiles will be doing an Apple Tasting with apples from the farmers' market. Be sure to come by to taste and compare the apples.
From Keith Farley, Manager:
Daylight savings time stops (fall back) on the 29th so when you go to bed on the 28th set your clocks back an hour and enjoy that extra hour. The market hours DO NOT CHANGE until the 3rd of December, so until then we will be open at 8 am until 1 pm.
Just a couple more weeks and The Mighty Frequent Shopper Cards return! Starting November 5th We will begin to pass out the Frequent Shopper Cards. A new thing this year will be only one card per family. Stop by and get yours in November.
For more info.
ABOUT ORGANIC FOODS by Keith Farley, Manager, WC
Are organic yields lower?
Based on 154 growing seasons' worth of data on various crops, organic crops yielded 95% of crops grown under conventional, high-input conditions (Liebhardt, B. Get the facts straight: organic agriculture yields are good. OFRF Information Bulletin #10, summer 2005.). This was by using organic farming methods developed and refined by years of grower experience, independent of the billions of dollars of support provided the agrichemical industries through USDA and the land grant system. If USDA would increase the small proportion of its research funds currently directed toward optimizing organic farming practices, organic has the potential to produce yields fully matching or surpassing those of conventional crops. Growers who go through the 3-year transition period from conventional to organic management usually experience an initial decrease in yields, until soil microbes are re-established and nutrient cycling is in place, at which point yields return to previous levels.

Is there a national standard for organic?
Yes. Since October 2002, organic regulations under the USDA National Organic Program have been in effect. This means there are a uniform set of organic production, processing, and labeling standards across the United States. Anyone who sells a product as "organic" is required by law to be certified (The National Organic Rule and other policies of USDA's National Organic Program may be accessed on the web at USDA oversees implementation of the Rule through its National Organic Program but does not certify organic operations itself; instead, it accredits independent certifiers to certify growers and processors on USDA's behalf.

How do organic farmers fertilize crops? How do they control pests, diseases, and weeds?
Organic farmers build healthy soils by nourishing the living component of the soil, the microbial inhabitants that release, transform, and transfer nutrients. Soil organic matter contributes to good soil structure and water-holding capacity. Organic farmers feed soil biota and build soil structure and water-holding capacity. Organic farmers build soil organic matter with cover crops, compost, and biologically based soil amendments. These produce healthy plants that are better able to resist disease and insect predation. Organic farmers' primary strategy in controlling pests and diseases is prevention through good plant nutrition and management. Organic farmers use cover crops and sophisticated crop rotations to manage the field ecology, effectively disrupting habitat for weeds, insects, and disease organisms. Weeds are controlled through crop rotation, mechanical tillage, and hand-weeding, as well as through cover crops, mulches, flame weeding, and other management methods. Organic farmers rely on a diverse population of soil organisms, beneficial insects, and birds to keep pests in check. When pest populations get out of balance, growers implement a variety of strategies such as the use of insect predators, mating disruption, traps and barriers. Under the National Organic Program Rule, growers are required to use sanitation and cultural practices first before they can resort to applying a material to control a weed, pest or disease problem. Use of these materials in organic production is regulated, strictly monitored, and documented. As a last resort, certain botanical or other non-synthetic pesticides may be applied.

How are organic livestock and poultry raised?
Organic meat, dairy products, and eggs are produced from animals that are fed organic feed and allowed access to the outdoors. They must be kept in living conditions that accommodate the natural behavior of the animals. Ruminants must have access to pasture. Organic livestock and poultry may not be give antibiotics, hormones, or medications in the absence of illness; however, they may be vaccinated against disease. Parasiticide use is strictly regulated. Livestock diseases and parasites are controlled primarily through preventative measures such as rotational grazing, balanced diet, sanitary housing, and stress reduction.

How can I reach an organic certification agency that serves my area?
Depending on where you live or farm in the U.S., there may be one or several organic certifications agencies that serve your region. There are many organic certifying agencies accredited through the USDA National Organic Program, and these include non-profit organizations, state- or county-affiliated agencies, and for-profit corporations. Some agencies work solely within a particular county or state, while others conduct organic certifications regionally or nationwide. Depending on the type of agency, an organic certifier may also provide additional services to farmers and the public, such as information about organic food and farming, sponsorship of workshops and conferences, or organic marketing materials. Together with The Rodale Institute/NewFarm, OFRF has developed a Guide to U.S. Organic Certifiers or you can contact the USDA National Organic Program.

How many organic farmers are there in the United States?
As of 2006, there are approximately 10,000 certified organic producers in the U.S. The growth in the number of organic farmers has increased steadily, similar to the growth of the U.S. organic industry, which has increased by rates of approximately 20% per year for more than 10 years. When OFRF first began tracking certified organic producer numbers in 1994, there were approximately 2,500 - 3,000 certified organic growers in the U.S. at that time. Consumer awareness of the value of organic farming and food products continues to grow, making organic a viable an attractive economic option for a growing number of producers.

Keith Farley can be reached at
FROM OUR MARKET by Chef Leslie Stiles
I made my first Butternut Squash and Orange Soup the other night for a party and it was so warm and smooth, just perfect for a chilly fall evening. I really love this time of year for the snuggle factor. You can snuggle down into a hot soup or rich lentil stew just as you would a down throw with a good friend. It seems that wanting to share your culinary treasures is inherent when it cools down. I start to move the grilled vegetables into the oven and get to roasting instead of guessing in the dark. Just cut your veggies up into chunk or squares and toss with olive oil, garlic and olive oil and bake in a hot 425° oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until your little jewels are all caramelized and sweet. These roasted vegetables can be eaten as is or tossed into soup, tagines, pasta or risotto not to mention a salad too. I like hot stuff tossed into my salads when the mercury dips.

Things start to slow down a little for us around this time as the seasonal markets start to come to a close and the seasonal food changes. The farmers have less to sell and will consolidate to the Orinda and Walnut Creek markets and then just Walnut Creek as their produce really starts to wane. Pleasant Hill goes to October 28 and Martinez to October 29. Orinda will continue on until just before Thanksgiving and close on November 18. Walnut Creek is year round; rain or shine so don't drop the sustainable life style because you may have to put a little more effort into the shop. It will always be worth whatever it takes to get to a farmers market for your weekly supply of local, seasonal produce. The payoff is in the nutrition and flavor but also you get immense satisfaction in learning what is seasonal and how to cook it.

Tommy Castro will be bringing his brand of screaming guitar blues to the Pleasant Hill Community Center this Saturday, October 21 at 8 pm. We are indeed fortunate to get someone of his caliber right here in Pleasant Hill brought to us by Jim Ocean and Kathy Dupler of the Community Concerts group. These are the same people that give us the gift of the music in the market at many other amazing musical shows like Randy Newman at the El Campanil Theatre in Antioch on November 12. Any way yours truly will be selling her own brand of food at this Tommy Castro concert. I will have butternut squash, walnut, gorgonzola and caramelized onion pizza, Smoked turkey, havarti and avocado sandwiches w/ red pepper aioli, seasonal fruit salad, assorted yummy imported and domestic cheese plates, grilled organic chicken Caesar salads, rocky road brownies and fresh fruit crisp to name a few of the items you can get for your dinner or evening snacking along with a glass of wine or coffee. This should be a great show and usually sells out by Saturday so get your tickets and have some huge fun with us. 925 229 2710.

Finally the College Park High School Organic Garden is going great. We have the boxes built and the dirt all donated and ready for delivery and box filling. We hope to have the boxes planted by the end of the month. We already have some starts going that were planted by the special ed classes a couple of weeks ago and are sitting pretty in the DVC greenhouse waiting out the construction. These will be the first plants in the garden. We have a lot of Swiss chard and snow peas. The Troy Spencer Memorial Garden has the first planting of winter crops in and they are all coming up extremely happy. We have a whole lot of peas, carrots, lettuces, Swiss chard and radishes and are getting ready for the Brassicas next. We also have gotten a whole bunch of bulbs in this year for some spring color. The Loofa gourds are immense and all the science classes are getting one for further studies. The Pumpkin essay contest is rolling along also and we have six pumpkins to give away to the best essay writers at this point. The Strandwood Elementary kids are making out like bandits with the produce they are getting for their salad bar from the Walnut Creek market. Apples from Stan, lettuces from Grace, tomatoes from Robin, grapes from J and J, strawberries from Medina's, pea shoots from Mee Vang etcetera! We will get going on Las Juntas this month. We could not be doing the new garden or salad bar without the help of Kaiser Permanente. They have not only given us the grant but people to help as well. Many thanks Marianne!
We are so lucky to live in this amazing area and have all these great hiking trails! Get out there!

Lesley Stiles can be reached at or on the market hotline 925 431-8361
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