Patti Bess: A new beginning in Peardale
The prettiest barn in Nevada County occupies the corner of Highway 174 and Meadow View Drive only five minutes from the Brunswick basin business district. This iconic red landmark originally housed the goats from Nightingale Farm and other small animal operations. The barn is situated in a lovely valley, rich with water from the surrounding hillsides, in rainy years. The land sat empty and untilled for many years appearing along the road as if it were waiting for just the right farmers. In 2020 the land and barn became the home of Peardale Farm.
Rob and Cathy Chase, partners in business and life for forty years, moved to Grass Valley in 2014. After three decades of winters on the East coast, their homesickness for California finally got the best of them. Among other careers, Rob had owned an organic farm in Connecticut while Cathy ran a marina.
Upon arrival, Rob immediately got involved with the Master Gardeners helping to coordinate their plant sale for several years. When the corner property on Meadow View Drive came up for sale, Rob and Kathy realized they weren’t finished with farming.
Ken Wallace retired from twenty five years of sales in the Bay Area and took time off to travel around the world to figure out what came next in life. His draw to Nevada County was partly because his parents live in Colfax (besides the fact that it’s a special paradise). At a Farm Business Course through Sierra Harvest Ken met Rob Chase, and their friendship and partnership grew from there. Organic, sustainable food has always been important to Ken, and he is excited to join the close-knit community of local producers in the Sierra Foothills. In addition to bringing healthy food to neighbors, he feels that smaller, sustainable, local food production will become an ever more important factor in our adapting to our changing climate.
Kelly Nichols, the niece of Rob and Cathy, became another member of their farm team. As marketing director and photographer, she created an online presence and logo, developed their CSA plan for the year and manages their farm stand. Kelly works part time and is also mother to her blended family in Lake of the Pines. She often brings with her a couple hard working children who are becoming skilled in potting and labeling plants as well as sales.
Not knowing quite what to expect last year, the team experimented with tomatoes planting 900 of them. They thought that many would likely not produce as they didn’t know their soil as yet, but the bumper crop took them by complete surprise. The farm sold tomatoes all fall. The Food Bank and Interfaith Food Ministry were happy to relieve them of some of their abundance.
This spring the farm stand is open selling plant starts and planting for the coming season. Peardale Farm is winding up their sale of plant starts. They are on track to offer a CSA this year as well as some you pick.
The Peardale Farm is certified organic and located at 14209 Colfax Highway. Stop by and say hello to Nevada County’s newest farm. They can also be reached at info@PeardaleFarm.com or 530 255-4110. The farm stand will likely have box pick-ups and produce beginning in early to mid-July. You can still pre-order plant starts on their website, http://www.PeardaleFarm.com while supplies last.
Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes Baked with Capers and Marjoram
Are you dreaming of tomatoes that don’t taste like cardboard? File this recipe away for your own bumper crop or tomatoes from Peardale Farm. It’s fairly simple and easy to cut in half for a smaller group.
Four bell peppers, red, orange and/or yellow
One large beefsteak-type tomato or one pound of another variety
Two smaller yellow tomatoes
One half cup parsley, stems removed
One tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves or twelve large basil leaves
Two garlic cloves (or more)
Two tablespoons capers, drained
Twelve Nicoise olives, pitted
Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Roast the peppers until charred in an oven or on the grill. Place them into a bowl, cover, and set aside while you prepare everything else.
Chop the parsley with the marjoram and garlic, then put them in a bowl with the capers, olives, and olive oil. (You can score the ends of the tomatoes, then drop them into boiling water for 10 seconds to remove the skins (optional). Add the tomatoes cut up into bite-size pieces. Season with about ¾ teaspoon salt and grated pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
When the peppers have cooled, remove the blackened skin, pull out the seeds and cut into wide strips.
Lightly oil a small gratin dish. Add the tomatoes, peppers, and herb mixture; gently toss. Cover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve over quinoa or rice as a main dish or separately as a side.
Patti Bess is a freelance writer and cookbook author from Grass Valley. She can be reached at email@example.com
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