The number one thing I love about California is that you can live here for decades and STILL be able to discover new places. Woods, beaches, lighthouses, oyster farms, you name it we have it!
When my husband and I moved here, the biggest surprise for me though was to find out what were the top state industries. Any guesses? Okay, then go first! Tech, you said? Well, you’re… right. But do you know what else? Agriculture! I mean agriculture, isn’t it freaking amazing?!
Take highway 5 next time you’re driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and your mind will be blown away by the number of fields with almonds, dates, kiwis, olives and strawberries. Quite likely you’ll have another vivid memory from there — passing trucks and onion husks flying straight to your windshield 🙂
If you don’t feel that adventurous but still want to experience rural life, take the scenic route down Pacific Coast and make a stop at Earthbound Farm farm’s stand — a company which started an organic salad revolution.
Their farm stand is known for a cafe with ever-changing salad bar (all organic!), as well as wide selection of soups, sandwiches and coffee. You can also buy locally-produced goods, flowers and gifts here. But my favorite thing about the place is their organic gardens where you can pick your own fresh herbs!
Last week I had an honor to visit Earthbound Farm with fellow creatives from the FeedFeed community. We learnt about farm’s history and practices used in organic farming. And, oh boy, it is a hard job!
As Janna Jo, who’s been with the company for 19 years (insert awe emoji here), said: “There are things in organic farming you cannot cheat at”. Farmers need to think 5 steps ahead in order to prevent unwanted results. So they use soil builders mixes to replenish soil between harvests, cover their crop with cloth so birds cannot fish out the seeds and even use small controlled fires to deter bugs! I told ya, this work is not easy!
When we were touring the garden I was amazed by the diversity of herbs grown there. Borage, red sorrel, pineapple sage… Wait, what?! Pineapple is my favorite fruit, so I was triple excited to try the flowers of pineapple sage that day — they are sooo sweet!
After the garden tour, we faced a fun competition. All girls were divided into teams and we had to create a salad using greens, fruits, veggies and condiments generously provided by Earthbound farm. The judges were rigorous! We had 5 minutes for planning, 5 minutes for picking the ingredients and 10 minutes for composing the meal.
Our dream team (Dani @andapinchoflove, Gillian @gillianscookery and I) chose: baby arugula, red apple, blueberries, feta cheese, shallot and two type of seeds. The color palette of our salad was inspired by orange and blue flowers from the garden.
It was super cool to have the synergy inside the team. Gillian came up with a creative idea to pickle apples and onions right on the cutting board, and Dani suggested to add maple syrup to our dressing to make it more interesting! Me… I just picked the right bowl for serving 🙂
At the end of our time at the farm, we had a beautifully served lunch. Look at the table decoration! I want to find the person who made these arrangements and give her a hug — genius!
Garden-inspired salad, our team’s submission:
This is more a direction than an actual recipe, so feel free to play with the amount of ingredients, different toppings and dressing!
1/3 lb baby arugula
1/2 pint blueberries
1 red apple
1 small shallot
30 g crumbled feta cheese
pumpkin and sunflower seeds
edible flowers and herbs of your choice
red wine vinegar
Core and thinly slice an apple, then mince shallot. Pour a bit of vinegar on top of the apples and onions and let them “pickle” while you prepare the rest.
In a shallow bowl combine arugula and citrus vinaigrette and mix to coat. Add pickled apples, shallot and blueberries to the bowl. Add feta cheese and seeds on top and decorate the salad with flowers and herbs.
Earthbound Farm’s farm stand:
7250 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel
P.S. In case you’re wondering who won the competition: each and everyone. As it turned out, judges were not that strict! 🙂