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The #drought: slow motion disaster

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Putting our money where the mouths are

Over the last few months, I’ve made a couple of sponsorship commitments that are a little out of the norm for a farm.

One was for a food truck. The other is for a running team. Why would I spend dollars from the farm like this? It may be that I just wanted to see our new Petty Ranch logo more often. I’m proud of it and put a lot of thought into the design. So I admit… this could all be about ego.

But I’d like to think there is something deeper. Scratch is not your typical food truck, even now that food trucks are cool. It is the creation of Chef Tim Kilcoyne, and if you have followed his blog, you know he has been a champion of fresh, local and seasonal eating. With this truck, he is literally “taking it to the streets.” I’ve been a fan of Tim’s for a while, and he’s always done great things with the figs and Meyer lemons we’ve provided him. Have a look at the Kickstarter video here.

“Everybody’s Hungry” is a blog dedicated to food, health, education and the community, and its mastermind, Jason Hendrick, has been a tireless voice and volunteer. “Tireless” is an ideal attribute for someone with Jason’s pastime: distance running. Everybody’s Hungry Racing Team has been created to help illustrate the connections between food and health and lifestyle in a very tangible way. I haven’t known Jason as long, but the work he’s done for Food Share, Totally Local VC, and promoting local food and craft beers on radio has been exemplary. Read more about Everybody’s Hungry and EBH Racing here.

I am proud to have our logo displayed on the back of Scratch’s truck and EBH Racing’s jersey. And yes… I do believe it is about more than my desire to see our logo in print. These are two gents making a difference, and I’m excited to be a part of it. So if see me eating at the truck with Tim, or running at an event with Jason (albeit much more slowly), know that I’m having a good time, but also know that I’m trying to make a connection too. Food and Health and Community are important to these guys, and they’re important to farmers too. We want consumers to connect these dots, and we want to have Petty Ranch be a part of that connection.

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A Look at the Crop Report

One of the principle reasons I maintain this blog is to provide perspectives on Ventura County farming to those who aspire to learn more about it. The release of the annual county crop report provides a great opportunity  for that discussion. This link will take you to an article I wrote for Totally Local VC about 4 crops changing the face of Ventura County farming. Another great resource is our local Farm Bureau, where I am proud to be on the Board of Directors. At the link below, you can get recent editions of the crop report, and a good FAQ on our local farms. http://farmbureauvc.com/crop_report.html

501 Pounds!

When you plant new trees, you never really know what to expect from them in terms of production while they are young. With the vast majority of our fig trees having been planted in March 2011, I wasn’t sure what we’d see in their first season. My benchmark for success was 500 pounds of figs. As of this morning, we have now picked 501… and there is still more to come.

But as happy as I am with our little trees (and “Harry“), I am most grateful to the response of our local community. Chef Tim Kilcoyne at the Sidecar continues to be a fig warhorse, but Julia Crookston of Bona Dea Preserves has edged him out as our top consumer to date. Perennial favorite Kate Dunbar of Petite Reve Cafe has done some fantastic things with our figs, particularly the early Desert Kings. Rabalais Bistro in Santa Paula, 71 Palm and Paradise Pantry in Ventura, and the Italian Job Cafe in Oxnard have been wonderful additions to our family of customers. We are also thankful for our friends who have taken up the challenge of introducing others to Petty Ranch figs… Kat Merrick of Totally Local VC, Gianna Cagliano, and Nancy Hochstein.

The season may not be over yet, but we can’t wait to express our appreciation for those who are  sharing this experience with us. Thank you!

Ventura County Ag: 1950’s to Present

It has been my pleasure this year to write a series for Totally Local VC that explores the history of Ventura County agriculture. I hope it serves as a foundation for discussions about the issues that face farming in our area now and in the future. As a brief overview, it moves quickly past certain issues, such as labor, and the contributions of many individuals. But having established a basis, further articles will other facets of our complex farm economy.

http://www.totallylocalvc.com/thanks-berry-much/