With harvest season winding down and the cool weather drawing us indoors to plan family gatherings around the holiday table, why not think local this Thanksgiving?
In a foothill county rich with local farms and ranches, the choices are diverse, tasty and bountiful and sure to fit a wide range of budgets.
“I think that it is totally possible to have a mostly local Thanksgiving,” said farmer Amigo Cantisano, owner of Heaven and Earth Farm, a small, organic farm located on the San Juan Ridge.
By buying locally this holiday, consumers can find fresh, rare and heirloom varieties of food grown without chemicals, Cantisano said.
In addition, buying from local farmers helps support a local economy by keeping farmers in business. It also helps reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gasses by eliminating semi-truck transportation, storage and refrigeration associated with the supermarket supply chain, he said.
Cantisano is one of several local produce farmers who will sell his goods for one more week, Saturday before Thanksgiving at the Nevada City Farmers Market. This will be the last market for the season.
Heaven and Earth Farm will have lettuce, kale, salad mix, arugula, apples, garlic, Napa cabbage, bok choy, cabbage, greens, carrots, beets and radishes.
Mountain Bounty Farm will also be at the Nevada City market and has a generous list of fresh locally grown produce to choose from.
“We have sugar pie pumpkins of course, but also lots of other veggies that are extra special to this time of year or that taste especially good at this time of year. For example, our carrots are always a favorite, but they are at their best right now,” said Farmer John Tecklin.
“The cooler weather, especially cool nights keep everything moist and the root crops and greens love it. The bitter greens like radicchios, escaroles, dandelions greens are really amazing right now.
“We also have: broccoli, three types of cabbages, fennel, collard greens, three types of kales, lots of lettuces, arugula, salad mix, scallions, celery (good for making stuffing), green onions, sweet red peppers, winter squashes (also good for pie), spinach, turnips, daikon, parsley, cilantro, and more,” said Tecklin.
Mountain Bounty Farm’s winter CSA starts up the week after Thanksgiving for vegetable lovers that want to continue to receive farm fresh produce through the cold months. Learn more at: mountainbountyfarm.com.
Four Frog Farm will also be in Nevada City. This time of year, Four Frog has: red and yellow onions, celery, radishes, salad turnips, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, delicata squash, butternut squash, red and blue kabocha squash, buttercup squash, arugula, baking pumpkins, kale, potatoes of various types and carrots.
Briar Patch Co-op sells Four Frog’s butternut and delicata squash and radishes and soon will carry the farm’s carrots, beets, salad turnips and lettuces.
Riverhill Farm has a large autumn harvest of red and yellow potatoes and a colorful array of winter squash and pie pumpkins along with other goodies.
Riverhill farmers have harvested thousands of pounds of winter squash including: Acorn, butternut, pie pumpkins, blue and orange Japanese Kobocha, Hubbard, Delicata and sweet dumpling.
Find Riverhill farmers rain or shine at the last Nevada City market or at a special afternoon farm stand at the farm located at the end of Cement Hill Road from 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 20, weather permitting. If it looks like it might be rained out call the farm at 263-1886.
“We’ll have lots of winter squash, potatoes and fresh culinary herbs. We’ll have kohlrabi … and lettuce if the weather doesn’t do it in,” said Farmer Alan Haight.
This weekend is also the last of the Saturday Growers’ Market at the North Star House located at 12075 (Old) Auburn Road in Grass Valley.
Beyond fruit and veggies, holiday shoppers can stock up on honey, jams and jellies, wine, ceramics for the table and fresh eggs, cheese and bread.
Farmers Ken and Aleta Barrett and their family plan to have a local feast this Thanksgiving.
For appetizers, the Barretts will eat herbed goat cheese and crackers, homemade canned salsa verde made with the farm’s tomatillos, garlic, peppers and onions and a veggie tray of sliced raw golden globe turnips, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and freshly pulled carrots.
Dinner is a medley of food from the garden: maple
glazed parsnips, mashed turnips, winter greens, Bull’s Blood and Golden Detroit beets, dill pickled cucumbers and winter squash.
For dessert the Barrett’s will serve green tomato pie, jumbo pink banana squash pie instead of pumpkin and homemade eggnog made with goat milk and eggs fresh from the farm.
The Barretts own Starbright Acres Family Farm and can be found at the North Star market and also Saturday’s at their farm store, 12575 Polaris Drive, Grass Valley. Call 273-2513 for more details.
Two foothill farms are offering pasture-raised turkeys in Nevada County this season.
Fowler Family Farms is offering turkey raised in the outdoors and fed a diet of organic, non-GMO grains for $6.80 a pound.
The Fowlers raise broad-breasted white turkeys, the same breed as commercial varieties but with a distinctly better flavor because of the bird’s access to fresh air and exercise.
“Because they are outside walking around, the taste and texture is superior to birds raised in a poultry house. Many customers tell us they’re the best turkey they’ve ever had,” said Alana Fowler who raises the birds with her husband, Brad.
The Fowlers will also offer geese for Christmas.
Organic farmer Bryan Kaminsky is raising heritage breed turkeys on his 40-acre Newcastle farm, The Natural Trading Company. Twenty of the 40 Narragansett and Bronze birds he is raising will be offered for sale locally through Briarpatch Co-op for $7.50 a pound.
“They’re really good. They were raised organically,” he said of the turkeys that grew up roaming the farm’s orchards and pastures.
“They’ve been treated really well.”
Kaminsky is proud to raise heritage breeds in an era when big poultry houses are the norm.
“It’s getting back to those old breeds that are really dying out,” he said.
Commercial varieties typically mature in 14-18 weeks compared to heritage breeds that take a good deal longer, up to 28 weeks to mature. During this longer maturation process, the turkey develops more flavor, Kaminsky said.
For best results, Kaminsky recommends cooking heritage breeds on lower temperatures for a longer period of time.
For families who want a smaller main course, local heritage breed chickens are available through Red Rocker Farm email@example.com, (805) 680-3159 and Dinner Bell Farm www.dinnerbellfarm.com, (530) 272-2843.
Natural Trading Company is also offering a winter CSA. For more information about the farm’s produce and poultry visit: naturaltradingco.com.
Pie and other baked goods
A late spring frost this year hurt local apple growers, but Heaven and Earth Farm is selling Red Delicious and Kayden apples for $2 a pound.
For those who have a
surplus of green tomatoes in the garden, do as the Barrett family does.
“Tell people to use their favorite apple pie recipe, substitute firm green tomatoes and double the thickener. It tastes like apple pie,” Aleta Barrett said.
Jeannie Gleason of Lazy Valley Ranch in Penn Valley still has many packages of frozen blueberries, great for making holiday pies. The blueberries are $6.50 a pound. Call Gleason Monday through Friday at 432-2234 or (530) 210-6822.
For those who don’t have time to bake pies this year, Susan Meagher of Nana’s Artisan Bakery is taking orders for Thanksgiving. She uses apples from Apple Hill, Pearson Family Farm, EGB Farms (a North Star vendor) and Bierwagen for her apple and apple cranberry pies. Pecan and pumpkin are also available, though not made with local ingredients.
Meagher sells her pies for $18 each and can be reached at SRmeagher@yahoo.com or 272-4514. Please make orders 48 hours in advance. She can also make gluten free varieties.
Jeannie Cavaliere of Oregon House Farms is taking orders for organic pumpkin pies made from her French pie Pumpkins called, “Rouge Vif d’tampe.”
“These are delicious pies that are baked in my commercial kitchen and are made fresh to order,” Cavalier said.
Order pies by contacting Cavaliere at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 692-2564.
Reed Hamilton of Grass Valley Grains has hard red wheat flour, Sonora heirloom soft white wheat flour, rye flour, barley flour, white cornmeal, and white corn polenta for all your holiday baking and whole grain needs.
The hard red wheat flour is available at BriarPatch Co-op. Find everything else at grassvalleygrains.com.
Special sides: Nuts, wild berries, mandarins and mushrooms
Heaven and Earth Farm offers locally grown chestnuts for sale, an ingredient in many traditional stuffing recipes including Cantisano’s own “Chestnut, wild rice and pecan stuffed winter squash.”
The chestnuts are part of the Felix Gillet Institute and are collected from 98-year-old trees.
Gillet established one of the first fruit nurseries on the West Coast in Nevada City in 1871. He is credited with providing the nursery stock that established the hazlenut industry in the North West. His stock was primarily introduce from European sources.
Marlene and Cliff Bottenfield of Tumbling Creek Farm have oyster mushrooms for sale and can be reached at (530) 613-0671.
Sunset Ridge Mandarins has mandarins, pomegranates and kiwi. Contact them at www.gotmandarins.com/
Alicia Funk, author of “Living Wild,” suggests using wild Madrone berries to create a Beyond Cranberry Sauce this holiday. Fall is the time to collect Madrone and Toyon berries and a fun family activity.
Lynn Shugren has “lovely organic walnuts” from her 100-year-old walnut trees. The walnuts are “clean and ready to go” and selling for $3 a pound or $10 for 25 pound. Call Shugren at 265-1907.
Contact freelance writer Laura Brown at (530) 401-4877 or email@example.com.