Camp Grant Ranch, John LaBoyteaux

Update on Camp Grant Ranch — October 2016

If you hang around long enough and volunteer to pick pumpkins with John LaBoyteaux, then you are lucky enough to get an invitation to The Last Pumpkin Waltz harvest party.  The day was the stormiest on the north coast in a long time, water was pooling on Hwy 101 and coming from the sky in a great deluge.  I was a little worried I’d arrive to find that the party had been canceled — but of course, you know these tough Humboldt County folk — I wasn’t the only one who braved the storm to head down to Camp Grant Ranch.  Loads of home cooked foods were consumed, followed by pumpkin carving — which was good, because that was followed by a tasting of Alchemy Distillery Boldt Whiskey — in a fabulous drink that made all of that rain outside seem like a sunny day.  Not sure I would have handled the pumpkin carving knives well if I’d had whiskey first!big-ole-boldt-sunrise-recipe-card

Amy Bohner shows off a bottle of Boldt Whiskey -- which was promptly consumed by those attending!

Amy Bohner shows off a bottle of Boldt Whiskey — which was promptly consumed by those attending!

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John LaBoyteaux checks out the label of his own personal bottle, a gift from Amy and Steve Bohner from Alchemy Distillery.

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Sally carved this pumpkin before consuming the shot of Boldt Whiskey — honest!

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However — Sally was happy to be the recipient of the first shot…

whiskey-bottle

The label shows AGS-104 Rye as the grain varietal; the farm is Camp Grant Family Farm, Location is Clover Crossing, Lake County.

If you’ve followed the local food movement in Humboldt, I’m sure you’ve come across the name John LaBoyteaux — John generously donates much of his time to share his thoughts about supporting local farmers and land use issues.  He is one of the pioneers who is bringing wheat back to Humboldt.  That’s right, I said “back” to Humboldt.  In the early 1900’s Humboldt County was an award winning region for growing wheat.  These were smaller pieces of land that used smaller pieces of equipment to work them — not the giant combines you picture in the great plains region.  John recently helped with an effort to study different varieties at the College of the Redwoods farm down in Shively — soft and hard wheats that will soon be available at farmers markets.  John has worked with Rhonda Wiedenbeck from Beck’s Bakery to grow some varieties that she can include in her products so we can once again eat bread made from wheat grown in Humboldt.

At the end of August 2016 I was invited to a wheat harvest at Camp Grant Ranch — photos below give a small taste of the wondrous barrels of wheat that will make their way into Rhonda Wiedenbeck’s bread (Beck’s Bakery) and Steve and Amy’s spirits (Alchemy Distillery)…as well as some of my own pastries and breads!

rhonda-and-instagram rhonda-hand-winnowing-1 rhonda-hand-winnowing-2 steve-watches-the-process straw-1 straw-2 straw-3 tight-shot-grain-2 tight-shot-grain tractor-and-fig wheat-grain-in-the-hopper wheat-on-barrel and-the-belt-goes-on cutting-the-wheat cutting-wheat-2 full-tractor grain-and-chaff grain-in-barrels-1 grain-in-motion grain-in-the-hopper-in-motion john-checks-on-progress john-grain-in-barrel john-in-his-element john-on-tractor john-teaching-next-gen-farmer miss-america

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Wild Rose Farm, Blake and Tae Richard

I came across Tae at the farmers market in Arcata one lovely Saturday morning — and there he sat behind a colorful mound of…what?!  Quinoa?!  Seriously — have you seen quinoa?  Who is going to grow and harvest such a small seed — well, I’ll tell you who — Tae and his father Blake!  So I got a hold of Blake and talked him into coming in for an interview — we talked about all of the wonderful veg they are growing and their start in this very new venture.  So…do you know that the only other domestic producers of quinoa are in Colorado?  and there is only one farmer there that grows it.  Hats off to Tae and Blake — pick up some of their beautiful multicolored quinoa and support their new enterprise!  Quinoa salads all around!

Quinoa Harvest 2016

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Boujie Bakery, Cassie Forrington

I kept running into people who were talking about Boujie Bakery and Cassie Forrington — Beer Kissed Treats?  I had to know! — and then the kicker, when I went to Living the Dream Icecream in Old Town and had Beer Brittle in my ice cream.  You know I like brittle, but here’s the thing — so many foods these days have so much sweetener added that they no longer have any flavor.  So…making brittle with beer was right up my alley — and could be up your alley too.  And if you are lactose intolerant, no worries, you can just buy the brittle and eat it directly out of the bag!  Fancy Schmancy Goodness indeed!

News from Boujie Bakery — Cassie’s fabulous beer kissed caramel sauces have just been picked up by Whole Foods!  Cassie is having a kickstarter campaign (deadline March 18th!) to gear up for the heavy production requirements — to help Cassie, click here!

To listen to her share her experiences having some of her products accepted by Whole Foods, and working with kickstarter to raise money for this next phase of operation, click here

Check out Boujie Bakery

Listen to the interview here

Scott Bradshaw, Fish Brothers

I first met Scott when he volunteered to do a presentation for the Master Food Preserver Program about smoking and curing fish — loaded with great info after years of doing just that, Scott was relaxed, fun and funny — and I knew I’d have to interview him for Food for Thought.  Now I’ve tried to smoke fish — fish jerky is what I ended up with!  My husband has perfected lox which he cures with a combination of salt, citrus zest, vodka (yeahhhhhh….) and dill….but I swear I’ll give hot smoking salmon another try…and in the meantime I’ll just buy Fish Brothers — especially the Wild King Salmon — because it’s so good and much easier!

Check out Fish Brothers

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Thimbleberry Farms, Bill and Willie Welton

You-pick farms have been around forever — I have pleasant memories of picking ripe apricots (that’s something you haven’t eaten lately I’ll bet) right off the tree in Brentwood CA — Brentwood is now covered with houses and the You Pick places are few and far between.  Well if you want to relive one of your favorite activities from your childhood, hopefully with children in tow — look no further than Thimbleberry Farms in Fortuna.  Bill and Willie Welton have welcomed several generations to their 6 acres of berries, apples, pears, cherries, figs and more.  Willie kindly gave me a bag of loganberries and my neighbor is now hooked on the jam…so you know the deal — he has to go pick next year and I’ll make him the jam.  Bill took Jessica Eden and I through the orchard and we munched crisp mouthwatering apples as he told us about the varieties, and Bill loaded me down with enough apples to make 2 years worth of apple butter and enough to share for holiday gifts.  Keep your eye on Craig’s List, that’s how Willie lets everyone know when this year’s bounty is ripe!

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Joyce Houston, Master Food Preservers

Joyce Houston is one of the founding mothers of the Master Food Preservers of Humboldt County — MFPs volunteer their time demonstrating safe home food preservation and staffing a booth at the Farmers Market where the produce is fresh and sometimes overabundant (perfect for preserving!)…if you are interested in becoming a Master Food Preserver, the training is held once a year and only 12 people are accepted.  It is generally held the month of February on Saturdays (9-4) and Monday evenings (5:30-8:30).  You will learn about canning (both pressure and waterbath), dehydrating, fermenting, pickling, freezing and more!  Cost is $150 — contact the University of California Cooperative Extension for more information 445-7351.  There is a great facebook page if you are into Facebook…

Listen to the interview

To get an Applicant_Form-2014 with my notes for the program

Bill Thompson, Folklife Farm

It was a cold and icy winter day when Bill Thompson was going to meet me at the KHSU studio for our interview…he said he’d be riding in on the back of a motorcycle…I didn’t sleep well the night before, imagining a motorcycle careening over icy streets to get to the KHSU studio on an early winter morning, Bill Thompson clinging on to the back.  I called Jessica and we decided to make a field trip (after all, we were the ones with an actual car…and we had heat!).  An enjoyable morning was spent eating Bill’s homemade cookies and talking to him about land trusts and his newly created Folklife Farm in Bayside.

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David MacCuish, Winter Farmers Market

What is better than the Farmers Market at the Arcata Plaza?  Oh sure, I shop at the Hendersen Center market — after all I do live south of Eureka…but for an all out celebration of local food, nothing beats my weekly trip to the Arcata Plaza.  And now there is a great reason to celebrate, the Arcata Farmers Market is now open year round — sure, there aren’t any tomatoes, but winter is the time to eat up brussel sprouts, kale and chard — and there will definitely be some surprises like Jacques Neukom’s yacon — seriously –ask him about it, it’s like a jicama on steroids looking like a giant yam.  I am now growing my own — Jacques even said they do better on the coast than his Willow Creek farm (yay! can’t grow those tomatoes but I am now a mean Yacon grower!)  You know how this works, the more we support the Winter Farmers Market the bigger and better it will get — see you there!

Check out the website for the North Coast Growers Association

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