Chef Franco Dunn sits at the SHED coffee bar intently engaged not with an espresso drink but rather, with a small plastic cup filled with olive oil. SHED pantry lead Debra Conti watches Franco carefully as he lifts the lid on the plastic cup and inhales deeply. He closes the lid and his eyes, thinking of what he’s just smelled. Then he removes the lid entirely and simply drinks the oil right down.
BLOG.Notes from the Field
At HomeFarm, we aim to sustain the land that produces our food, the people who work and rely upon that land, and the animals, insects, and wiggly unseens that inhabit it. At SHED, we also consider what it means to be sustainable. In our lexicon, that includes fair and respectful treatment of employees; it means composting kitchen and cafe waste; it means rain water capture and riparian restoration of the adjacent Foss Creek. It even means that our walls are literally stuffed with denim for insulation. And those are just some of the ways that we define it.
Was 2015 the year we hit our groove? It certainly feels like it.
2015 was the year that we welcomed new Culinary Director Perry Hoffman to our kitchen, launched dinner service, and saw a gratifying response from diners and critics alike.
It was the year that we devoted the entire month of October to learning about and immersing ourselves in the art, food, and culture of Japan.
It was another year of Biodynamic agriculture education, of the Brave New Music series, of celebrating the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, and of happily hosting site-specific works from the UPside Dance Company in our Grange.
We were fortunate to have such master chefs as Sonoko Sakai, Mamiko Nishiyama, Kyle McConnaughton, Ali Bouzari, Dan Felder, Russell Moore, Alison Hopelain, Nancy Singleton Hachisu, Steven Satterfield, and Thomas McNaughton come cook with us and teach us in 2015.
We hosted communal knitting nights with master crafters on hand to assist, and a communal reading night in which we pulled out our extensive library collection of books on food and agriculture to share. We lit the Grange with candles and had a meditative walk to honor the winter solstice; we filled the Grange with cushions and turned it into an ad hoc zazen for meditation.
We had in-depth beekeeping classes and another workshop on pollinators of all types. (We also built and donated an Insect House that school children love!) We celebrated apples and soil. We learned to make books and about spoon carving.
Frances Moore Lappé spoke to us of hope and foresight. Nicolette Hahn Niman and other experts taught about the importance of raising grass while raising beef. Master ceramicist Shiro Otani made an exclusive U.S. appearance with his wheel to demonstrate the ancient craft he has so gracefully modernized.
We showed films about the politics of food, the metaphor of gleaning, the life of the farm. We devoted an entire day to the intricacies of crafting a successful Thanksgiving meal, celebrated the work of the Famers Guild, and helped build the ranks of the North Coast Grain Alliance. West Coast Live returned for two live broadcasts that highlighted some of our favorite local thinkers, activists, and artists and filled our seats to bursting.
Most of all: We gave thanks.
We continue to give thanks. With nearly 80 events enlivening our Grange and retail spaces in 2015, we are thankful to the community that gathers around us, the experts who enlighten us, and the farmers and chefs who feed us. We are thankful to you.
With full hearts, we thank everyone who reads our newsletter, checks this blog, comes into our store, sips something good at our Fermentation Bar, buys a bunch of our flowers, hangs out at our Coffee Bar, grabs a bite at the Café, and lingers over something special in our retail hall. Together, this community of supporters, learners, eaters, producers, and growers has made 2015 a truly special year for us.
Here’s to an even more spectacular 2016 for all!
With peace and love,
It seems that the match between cold weather and hot wine is as ancient as the Romans themselves. First recorded in the 2nd century, mulled wine was a treat Roman soldiers sipped during long cold days spent conquering Europe. That legacy continues today as nearly every country in the continent has a tradition of heating, sweetening, and sipping wine during winter — and particularly at the holidays.
As more of us begin to question our allegiance to mass-market gifts and toys, perhaps this is the year you circle back to simpler times and create your own Handmade Holiday.
Last November, Sunset magazine sent an editorial team to HomeFarm to document a typical Thanksgiving dinner. This November, the HomeFarm Thanksgiving is the cover story for Sunset magazine. As you might imagine, we’re beyond thrilled. (more…)