This column focuses on organic, local food growing and production, which is, admittedly, a minute component of our overall agriculture economy. At the Springs Community Hall, our motto is “Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, Healthy Community.” Without healthy farms, we lose a vital component of the foundation for human life. Sure, food can be brought in from any direction on the compass. But does convenience mean a better product? Debatable, though we do know from research that produce that is recently harvested has higher antioxidant and health value than older products.
Which leads to the value of local food production for human health, not to mention its inherent value as a traditional human activity, and its contribution to land-use and economic diversity.
This week we look at the Springs Community Farmers Market, held on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This market is in its third year, the first being at Larson Park, and now in its second year at the “Springs Plaza,” next to the Boyes Springs Post Office. This market, run by Kelly Smith and the group at Community Farmers Markets, a local non-profit promoting farm-direct access to our communities in Sonoma County and Marin. Building up a farmers market is like building up any business – it takes time.
The number of local citizens that seek out local food options varies by community, but is most definitely a minority in general. Cost, availability, options, and shopping experience all play a part. Much of the value of a farmers market goes beyond sheer economics, and brings other social, cultural, economic, and environmental benefits. The Springs Market, however, is struggling to get off the ground.
For those that wish to support the development of community in the Springs, small businesses, and local food production, please go out and support this market so that it can grow and, at the same time, support you and your neighbors, bringing people out of their homes, away from their phones, to engage with one another. Meanwhile, here’s a great seasonal recipe from local chef extraordinaire Sean Paxton.
With summer in full swing, Paul’s Produce will have the ultra-trippy vegetable in the brassica family (that includes cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts), romanesco. It’s nutty and earthy when roasted. Serves: 4 – 6 guests
1 head romanesco
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or minced
2 Tbsp parmesan or asiago cheese, grated fine
1 tsp miso, white
1/2 tsp salt, sea
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
-Preheat your oven to 375°F.
-Remove as much of the bottom stem as possible, creating a flat base for the romanesco to sit upright. Take off all the leaves around the base. Place the head upright onto a baking sheet or cast-iron pan.
-In a bowl, mix together the lemon zest (bright yellow peel) and juice, garlic, parmesan cheese, miso, salt, chili pepper flakes (or cracked black pepper), and olive oil. It should be a thin paste consistency. Using a pastry brush or spoon, evenly cover all the fractals with this mixture.
-Place into the center of the oven, roasting until golden brown and a knife can easily pierce to the center of the romanesco, about 1 hour.
Seth Dolinsky is manager of the Sonoma Valley Agricultural Cooperative, a program of the Sonoma Springs Community Hall aimed at supporting local farms and food producers using organic methods and ingredients.