Eat Good Food, Foodshed, Watershed

Foraging for Sonoma Seaweed

A briny smell wafts from the laundry room sink as I rinse the grit from my fresh harvest of seaweed. Unfurling the fragile nori, I wash out the sand and shells ensconced in the wrinkled clump. After rinsing, I arrange my “catch” on a towel outside. The plants lay like limp fish out of water. Soon the afternoon sun transforms their tendrils from murky green to crispy black.

Drying seaweed is actually the end of the story. It is, however, one of many skills I learned during SHED’s Edible Seaweed Forage with Heidi Herrmann. Once harvested, seaweed should be washed and dried so it can be eaten throughout the year. A local seaweed expert, Heidi Herrmann of Strong Arm Farm, taught us about sustainable harvesting and how to cook with seaweed. It was an invigorating experience to climb over rocks, wade in the ocean, and nibble on the wild plants.

The morning of the forage was bright, clear, and beautiful. As I drove westward, the landscapes changed dramatically.  The neat vineyards turned to forest villages, and finally, the Sonoma coast came into view. The motley crew of fellow foragers met at Shell Beach at 7:30 am. Since seaweed harvesting is dependent on the time of the tides, we arrived early to get a break in the ebb and flow. Consulting her pocket tide book, Heidi gestured toward today’s date and the time of the tides. We had about an hour to get in and get out.

Shell Beach

I breached the parking lot overlook and began my descent towards the sea. Scuttling down the haphazard steps I took in my surroundings. A dramatic canvas of green vegetation swept down the valley. Delicate purple flowers sprouted along the path and massive rocky outcrops jutted up from the water offshore.

Once on the beach, Heidi taught us how to identify different varieties. Then, she instructed how cut the plants in a way that allows regrowth. Equipped with scissors, ziplock bags, and a sharpie, I began bagging samples. At times it felt like a coastal crime scene: I was the investigator and the seaweed was the evidence.

We came across several varieties:

  • sister Sarah, a frilly, crunchy variety that resembles a wreath
  • kombu, a slimy, leathery variety that resembles a belt
  • bladderwrack, a leafy variety with an unfortunate name
  • nori, a smooth, shiny, and paper thin variety the resembles decorative wrapping paper.

As the tide came back, we packed our harvest and turned to Heidi for our final lesson of the day. She asked us each to reflect on our experience with gratitude for each other, the superb day, and the generous ocean. Foraging should not be taken for granted. Only by respecting the seasons, the tides, and the environment can we continue to enjoy edible seaweed.

Field Notes

Slow Food Sonoma County: Snail of Approval

Slow Food in Sonoma County awards the Snail of Approval to local restaurants, producers, and artisans making a significant contribution to improving the food system.

In early November 2017, SHED was named one of the first awardees of the Snail of Approval, along with Backyard, Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, Estero Cafe, The Naked Pig Cafe, Zazu Kitchen + Farm and Black Piglet.

All awardees hosted a panel of evaluators in early 2017 for a site visit and in-depth interview. Areas of evaluation include local and seasonal ingredient sourcing, investment in fair labor practices, humane treatment of people and animals, and recycling and composting programs.

SHED co-owners Doug Lipton and Cindy Daniel were two of the early members of Slow Food Sonoma County North over twenty years ago, and credit the good, clean, and fair philosophy for shaping many of our practices and programs at SHED.

From our focus on green energy to sustainable farming to ethical business practices, there are countless ways in which we embrace the tenets of Slow Food, a global movement dedicated to defending regional food traditions, gastronomic pleasure, and an overall slow pace of life, founded in Italy in the 1980s.

Committed to honoring the Snail of Approval, our dedication to local and seasonal sourcing, exploring and celebrating culinary traditions, and promoting and protecting agricultural diversity is as strong as ever.

We hope to continue provide a place of conviviality where people can take pleasure in cooking, eating, and sharing meals with other.

Farming, Foodshed, Healdsburg, Nonprofits, Watershed

Giving Thanks

As Thanksgiving nears and we consider the bounty surrounding us, we extend our gratitude to 10 local organizations that provide our community with a variety of ways to connect with fresh food, local farmers, healthy practices, and a love of the earth. Our additional gratitude to Petaluma’s Douglas Gayeton of the Lexicon of Sustainability project for the amazing image.

• Farm to Pantry. A volunteer organization devoted to providing fresh, healthy, and affordable food to all through gleaning surplus produce that might otherwise go to waste from area farms and backyards.

• Russian Riverkeeper. Aiming to advocate, educate, and celebrate the Russian River watershed, Russian Riverkeeper works to inspire us all to protect this important local resource.

• LandPaths. A nonprofit whose goal is to foster a love of the land, helping citizens to learn more about our area so as to better protect and preserve it.

• Healdsburg High School’s Farm to Table Program. Helping the newest generation learn the value and practices of sustainable agriculture.

• Healdsburg Farmers Market. Founded in 1978 and one of the 22 original certified farmers’ markets in California, its last day of the season is this Saturday, Nov. 29, from 9am to noon.

• The Farmers Guild. Originally named the Young Farmers Guild, this group encourages and helps to connect the “newest wave” of agriculturalists.

• Community Garden Network of Sonoma County. Offers training, mentoring, and assistance to those who keep plots in the 90 community gardens we’re proud to have in this county.

• Community Alliance with Family Farmers. A state-wide program that connects farmers with consumers, chefs, and others who value sustainably grown and healthy fresh food.

• Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. A nonprofit agricultural center with an organic demonstration garden placed within the borders of an intentional community.

• The School Garden Network of Sonoma County. Supports nutrition-based learning programs in our schools, connecting kids to the earth in order to better understand their role on the planet and the importance — and pleasures — of healthy eating.

Best wishes for a lovely Thanksgiving from all of us at SHED!

Artisan Producers, Farming, Foodshed, HomeFarm, Modern Grange

SHED Stories: Video

When we tell SHED's story, we must always tell Healdsburg's story. SHED is a reflection of Healdsburg's evolution and its agrarian history.

We've been fortunate enough to work with cultural historian Makalé Faber-Cullen and her partner, filmmaker Enrico Rossini Cullen, on a number of projects that tell that story. Makalé researched and designed the story scroll we're installing in our stairwell.

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Working with the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society, Makalé was able to draw upon old photos and texts to bring a fresh vision of our past, and she encapsulates it beautifully in this video:

Working with Enrico, the pair also created an origin story for SHED that explicates our ideals as well as shines a great spotlight on the artisans and growers we've been fortunate enough to work with:

We hope that you enjoy watching these as much as we do!