Healthy food at Starbright Acres farm stand in Grass Valley |

Healthy food at Starbright Acres farm stand in Grass Valley

As a culture we spend millions to study and analyze the causes of obesity, cancer, heart disease and other lifestyle related diseases. With a little common sense and a few changes of habit patterns, the (partial) solution to these problems is right here in our own backyards or just down the road. For example, supporting your local farmer by buying his/her wonderfully fresh, nutrient dense produce.

Starbright Acres is the creative venture of Ken and Aleta Barrett. Their brochure reads, “Eat Right at Starbright.” The farm stand on their three acre farm opens seven days a week during daylight hours all year long, and it’s only a half mile past the fairgrounds. It operates on the trust system. Choose what you want and leave the money in the box. Once you make that short drive, you’ll realize it’s an eater’s paradise.

To say that Ken and Aleta are hard workers is like saying chickens have feathers. Their two children, Zea a sixth grader at Lyman Gilmore and Sam in second grade at Bell Hill School, are a continual whirlwind of activity and energy while their parents maintain a calm, easy going mentality. Then there are the neatly maintained chicken coops and a rambunctious herd of goats plus the gardens and fruit trees. Ken has beautifully trellised all of his cucumbers, musk melons, cantaloupe and winter squash which utilizes their acreage quite efficiently. It’s hard to imagine how one man could work as hard as he does.

For 10 years Ken and Aleta lived with their young family in Seattle area, where Ken worked as a bus driver and Aleta was an apartment manager. In 2010, they decided to move back to Grass Valley to be closer to Aleta’s parents. They bought their dream farm and immediately transformed it into solar power.

Two years ago the Barretts received a matching funds grant from the National Resource Conservation Service to build a hightunnel. It looks and functions like an open-ended greenhouse with the perfect light and moisture for starting seeds and growing specific plants. Plump peppers growing inside look as if it were already late September. Ken also grows 20 varieties of tomatoes. Last year the San Marzanos, a canning and sauce variety, was so much more flavorful than others that he tripled his production this year (available in late July). Shallots and small round zucchinis perfect for stuffing are two other specialties.

The Barretts sell their produce at Natural Selection and to the Tahoe Food Hub, a distribution system that services primarily regional restaurants. They also sell at the North Star House market Saturday mornings. Aleta works part time as a Community Education Specialist through a grant from UC Cooperative Extension. She also works for Sierra Harvest as a liaison in garden and nutrition education and with the after school 4-H program. On Aug. 21, the Barretts will host a community farm dinner that is open to the public sponsored by Sierra Harvest.

Other farm community events can be found at If you’d like more information from the Barretts, they can be reached at: 273-2513 or The farm is a half mile past the fairgrounds. Turn left off McCourtney Road onto Polaris Drive and stay left at the fork. There is a small sign at the bottom of the second drive on the right.

Summer Garden Frittata

6 eggs

1/4 teaspoon pepper (to taste)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 green onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 small zucchini or yellow crookneck squash, grated

and moisture squeezed from them

10 to 12 large basil leaves, chopped

Handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Beat eggs, salt, pepper, and Parmesan together in a small bowl; set aside.

Add olive oil to a wide frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for three to four minutes; then add the garlic, squash, basil, and tomatoes sautéing just until vegetables are crisp tender. Allow to cool while you brush a 9-inch deep pie pan with small amount of additional oil.

Add the sautéed vegetables to the eggs. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until eggs are set in the center. Allow to cool slightly before cutting. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Patti Bess is local freelance writer, cookbook author, and gardener. She can be reached for more information or suggestions at:

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