Farming! It was all about the dirt this weekend. Went down to UCSC for the CASFS Harvest fest, and it was absolutely charming, as always. A whole posse of little face-painted kids were bobbing and swaying to the Rolling Cultivators' rockin' bluegrass while a couple of farmies were grinding away at the cider press, with Karen and Felizia pouring juice, another farmie grilling corn and veggie kabobs, and just loads of general sunshine and happiness. I was in apple-eating bliss, with all those cold nights, disappearing mugs, and close quarters with loud, walk-over-the-table-in-dirty-boots dudes forgotten, or at least not in the forefront of my mind. No, it was happy times with Frankie and Beans (the rat-eating farm cats), all the Early Girl dry-farmed tomatoes you could eat, and that priceless view. (And it's almost deadline time for applying to the program for '09, so get on it if you want to go! Happy to answer any and all questions you might have, especially for you over-30 types.)
An even more priceless view was to be had from the Chancellor's house, where we got to hear a short concert by the Shanghai Quartet, before their larger concert as part of the Arts and Lectures series. Hearing Ravel, Schubert, Brahms, and a contemporary Chinese composer in what was essentially a large living room with a stunning view of the ocean and meadows was also high on the bliss rating for the day, followed by browsing around and finally spending the last of the Book Shop Santa Cruz gift certificate I'd earned last year with my 2nd place in the apple pie contest. I went home with The Urban Homestead handbook, full of useful and snappily-written info about self-sufficient city living, from making daikon pickles and building your own solar dehydrator to using greywater and why it's crucially important to make sure your chickens have dry, fluffy, healthy butts.
And then onto the Alemany Farm, to dig and dig and dig and dig some more, to get out the posts that were planted halfway to China to hold up the bean fence. We pulled out the old beans, rolled up the chicken wire, and then spent hours digging out the poles. But by the end of the afternoon, the bed was cleared and marked off for a cover crop planting, and I was harvesting a big bucket of plum, lemon boy, sungold, and early girl tomatoes. Came home with a fabulous harvest of tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, rainbow chard, basil, and lettuce mix, all grown and picked right there in Bernal. You can have free vegetables, too: just show up and work from 12-5pm, and you can share in the bounty of the harvest at the end of the day. The farm has work days every weekend, alternating Saturday and Sunday. (The schedule's on their website.) Somehow, vegetables taste better when you bring them home, sweaty and dirty, having earning them with your back and hands.
Tonight, it's local salad-o-rama, with Shar and Susie. I'll be combining my Bernal harvest with what I brought back from the Santa Cruz farm (since I also had a gift certificate to spend at their market stand, earned from cooking 3 squares for the farmies earlier this year). Which means a salad nicoise, I think--with everything but the tuna (and the wine from Arkansas!) local. Green beans, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers--all local. And then apple gingerbread, followed by a nip over to hipster-tapas hangout Andulu, at 16th and Guerrero, to see the gorgeous photos of Bill Basquin, part of a photo series and film doc dubbed Soiled, about what he's been growing in his community plot in the Dearborn Garden.