Buying, selling local produce |

Buying, selling local produce

Kim Ewing and Drew Horwath at Mooney Flat Farm.
Akim Aginsky./ | Submitted photo

Cantaloupe Carpaccio

Total Time: 15-20 minutes

Servings: 4

1/2 medium-large cantaloupe

2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and minced

1/2 lemon, juice and zest

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

Pinch of salt and black pepper

2 ounces Parmesan cheese

Remove the rind and seeds from the cantaloupe. Cut it into 3 or 4 wedges, and then, using a sharp knife or vegetable peeler, cut each wedge into long, thin slices. Lay the slices out on a large plate or platter or divide evenly on small salad plates.

In a small bowl, whisk together the shallots, lemon juice and zest, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the sliced cantaloupe. Using a vegetable peeler, shave Parmesan cheese into thin curls or slices. Top the dressed cantaloupe with the shaved Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Accompany melon carpaccio with bowls of chilled gazpacho for a special warm weather lunch. Or add thinly-sliced prosciutto or Serrano ham for an authentic Mediterranean appetizer.

Per Serving: 194 calories, 14 g. fat, 12 mg. cholesterol, 263 mg. sodium, 11 g. carbohydrate, 1 g. fiber, 6 g. protein.

As we drive around in the summer heat to a friend’s house, to the river, to a lake, we might not be aware that hidden among the hilly, forested landscapes of Nevada County are dozens of farms that are growing a bounty of absolutely gorgeous fruits and vegetables.

Some of the farmers there are old-timers, who have been selling their crops to BriarPatch Co-op for decades. Others, on the younger side, are hoping they can make a living and establish a way of life that many only dream of.

More than 40 of these farms are selling fruit and vegetables to BriarPatch this year. Most of them are certified organic, or working toward it.

In July, they’re bringing in lettuce, red and green onions, potatoes, radishes, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, and greens, greens, and more greens.

Signs on the produce shelves tell which farm grew which fruit or vegetable. And if you look up, you will see photos of some of the farmers themselves – our hardworking neighbors.

I watch these farmers when they come in the store with their boxes, their skin tanned or burned or both, looking a little worn, and maybe relieved to be in the air-conditioned store for a bit.

Suddenly, the price of that huge, fresh head of lettuce or those perfectly ripened tomatoes seems more than fair.

Local produce is important to BriarPatch staff and shoppers. Providing locally grown food and supporting a stronger local food system are among our co-op’s major goals, which is how we have come to know so much about local farms.

Through this column, we hope to share our extensive knowledge of the local food system and provide useful recipes and resources.

When we say something’s local, we mean that it was grown within 20 miles of our store on Sierra College Drive, which basically means the areas of Grass Valley, Nevada City, Penn Valley and Chicago Park.

BriarPatch considers farms “regional” if they’re within 120 miles. This wider circle encompasses farms in the valley, and Sutter and Butte counties, which have a longer growing season.

We look forward to telling you what’s fresh, new and exiting in our local food movement every other week in the Farm to Table section.

What’s the most luscious local produce this week? A good bet is cantaloupe from Mooney Flat Farm in Smartville.

Drew Horwath and Kimberly Ewing are growing beautiful melons to supply their Community Supported Agriculture members, weekly farm stand and BriarPatch.

Cantaloupe is the perfect health food. Deliciously sweet and low in calories, cantaloupe is also sky high in nutrition (including an array of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber).

Serve it with breakfast, lunch or dinner, or as a refreshing snack. Cube it, scoop it into balls (with a melon baller), halve or quarter it, or slice it into rings. Put it on skewers, puree it into a smoothie, use it as a basis (and container) for fruit salad or simply grab a smile-shaped slice and bite in!

See more at

Stephanie Mandel is the marketing manager at BriarPatch Co-op in Grass Valley. Contact her at

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