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Tomorrow I leave for a five week trip to Asia, featuring three weeks in Northern India and two weeks in Bali, Indonesia. The suitcase is far from packed, and I have more herbal tinctures and remedies than clothes, but I am ready. Ready to go back to India, and to explore what the North has to offer. We will be on the move for ten days visiting various cities, after which we’ll spend five days in the Himalayas on a yoga retreat. Like the last trip I took three years ago, I am boarding tomorrow’s flight on a cloud of support from my people here. I don’t know what sort of connectivity I will have on this trip, but the best way to follow along is on my Instagram feed, if you’re so inclined. See you back here in November.


I’m excited to feature Coco Morante’s writing talents for this farm profile. A friend and fellow member of the South Bay Salon, Coco writes for Edible Silicon Valley as well as her own blog, It Was Just Right. Photos by yours truly. ~Danielle

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On a warm, late-August morning, Danielle and I took a drive down the coast to visit Fifth Crow Farm in Pescadero. Co-owner Teresa Kurtak met us with her baby Charlie in tow and graciously took us on a tour, steering her ATV-style stroller through the furrowed fields all the while.

Fifth Crow Farm was born seven years ago when founders Teresa, Mike Irving and John Vars leased 10 acres of land from private landowners Gene and Donna Richeson. Things have changed a lot since the early years, when 14 to 16-hour workdays were the norm. The farm has grown – it now leases 80 acres of land (of which 30 acres are used for vegetables), and all of the founders are new parents: Teresa and Mike’s son Charlie was born on March 1st of this year, as was Naima, daughter of John and his wife Maggi.

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By implementing sustainable, organic farming practices, Teresa and the Fifth Crow crew have transformed the land completely. Before they began farming this land in the Fall of 2008, it was used for conventional crops of artichokes and brussels sprouts. Now in its seventh sustainably-planted season, the farm is home to over 40 varieties of vegetables, a flower program, a flock of 700 laying hens, and an heirloom apple orchard with 28 varieties.

Working together with Anthony Chang of Kitchen Table Advisors, Teresa, Mike and John developed their vision for a farm that would provide not just organic produce, but also sustainable employment for its farm team. They employ 18 full-time workers, supporting them through the winter with profits from the growing season. Even when the harvest is done, there are still fences to build and infrastructure to maintain. Crops may be seasonal but the farm work continues year-round.

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Life on an organic farm is far from a mundane grind. In practice, it’s exciting, stimulating, and dynamic work. As Teresa says, “Every month is different. Every year is different. . . Farmers are systems managers. People, nature, and machinery have to work together.” Whether they’re planning next year’s crops (it’s a 3-day process, as the partners pore over maps of the farm) or dealing with day-to-day concerns like last-minute restaurant orders, there is always a new problem to solve.


All of the hard work and passion that goes into growing this produce is evident in the product —in the fields, baby lettuces are tender and crisp and flowers grow tall and sturdy, ready to be cut and arranged into stunning bouquets. In the greenhouse, walls of trellised cherry tomato vines are heavy with fruit, and the bell peppers are glossy and vibrantly colored, in varieties ranging from deep purple to yellowy-green.



If you’re interested in tasting some of Fifth Crow’s produce for yourself or are seeking a vibrant farm bouquet for the mantle, look for them at numerous farmers’ markets throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. They have a CSA program with pick-up sites from San Francisco to San Jose and are also featured on the menu at San Francisco restaurants like Range and Starbelly. You can also attend their annual Open House, which includes an apple-tasting, tractor rides, and a potluck-style dinner.


  • That’s our CSA! Some of those very tomatoes & lettuces are probably in my kitchen right now. :) Yay!ReplyCancel

  • So lovely both in photos and in words! Happy to know about this place and its commendable practices.ReplyCancel


My friend, Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo was invited to the inaugural Women’s Meat Camp hosted by the Belcampo Meat Company and brought me along as her tent-mate and photographer. It was a four-day all-girls’ extravaganza featuring butchery and open-fire cooking of some fine cuts of meat, accompanied by: copious amounts of rosé, cocktails, yoga on the lawn, hands-on sausage-making, farm walks, hair-braiding, story-telling, grilled peaches and hand-churned ice-cream. My Instagram feed offered a preview of the fun we got into, but here’s a “proper” (ie, larger) selection of images from the weekend. Don’t forget to turn up the volume!

One of our camp mates worked on Belcampo’s brand strategy prior to its launch, and as she tells it, the search for the right name faced numerous parameters that diminished the prospects of an eventual selection the more it grew. They finally settled on the coupling of two Italian words: Bel Campo. Beautiful Land. The choice speaks for itself and for the values that this company holds dear: doing meat right, at scale, on large swathes of farmland in the Shasta Valley. I hope they stay around for a while.

The next Meat Camp happens October 16-18, head over to the Belcampo website for more details and to register.

Other Meat Camp reflections:


This is my favorite quote from ‘Wild’ the movie, because any opportunity to seek out and be in the presence of beauty is an opportunity not to be missed. We took this to heart on a recent jaunt up north to Sebastopol, the heart of the Russian River Valley. Inventive food, spectacular Pinots and all around us, Nature in her lush Spring glory.

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  • Great photographs. Glad you were able to get outside and have some fun. Hope you’re doing well!ReplyCancel



In September 2011 the brilliant marketing folks at Travel Oregon put together a media trip that was truly one-of-a-kind. They gathered about 40-50 food and travel bloggers from North America for a weekend designed to showcase the best activities that Oregon had to offer, from river rafting to salmon-fishing, and kept us well-fed and libated by the amazing community of food artisans and restaurateurs in Portland. I spent a morning hanging out with one of these businesses, Salt & Straw – the ground zero of innovative ice-cream flavors like Pear and Blue Cheese or Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper – and you can read about my chat with Kim and Tyler over on the Etsy blog. It was fun to hypothesize ice-cream flavors (there’s a Basil Mojito sorbet idea I have yet to play with), and seek out perfect photo opportunities on my visit. I’m especially fond of this one as it best encapsulates my motivations in photography: to explore the relationships forged over food experiences and waiting for the right moment to express it all.

Read more about that Travel Oregon weekend here, and of course, a visit to one of Salt & Straw’s many scoop shops is a must-do if you’re ever in Portland.

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