A recap of our tour by Sara Farner
Strawberries, tayberries, kiwi, blackberries and verticillium wilt! All topics a group of about 30 Baker's Dozen members and friends learned about during the latest Baker's Dozen event on August 12. The event was held along Highway 1 in Davenport at Coastways Ranch. The incredibly knowledgeable Bear from Swanton Berry Farm discussed the successes and challenges of being a California Certified Organic Farm.
We began the tour walking through the fields learning about the coverage crop and how they maintain healthy soil for optimum growing conditions. We learned about the pests and critters that harm the crops and the methods they employ to keep up the plants defenses.
What makes Swanton Berry Farm especially unique is their approach to labor. According to their website, the dignity of farm labor is a founding principle of Swanton Berry Farm. From the beginning, they wanted to present their customers with a product produced under the best working conditions possible. What would be the point of farming organically if the workers were underpaid, over-worked, or treated without respect? Just carrying the California Certified Organic label did not address these important issues. Swanton Berry Farm was the first organic farm in the US to sign a contract with the United Farmworkers of America AFL-CIO and to carry the Union label. Impressive indeed.
We then learned about the various health benefits of the kiwi. More calcium than a cup of milk, more fiber than a slice of whole wheat toast, more vitamin C than two glasses of orange juice, and more antioxidants than two cups of blueberries. Who knew?!
After filling our heads with new-found knowledge, we were let loose amongst the blackberries! With our berry-stained cardboard boxes nestled on our handy carriers, we picked and ate blackberries to our hearts content. One could hear the excited conversations stating how the juicy berries were going to be used. Jams, ice cream sauce, sorbet, compote and of course, pie! But nothing beats eating a lone berry, whole, freshly picked on a summer day!
As if it couldn't get any better, we were invited to visit their farm stand about eight miles south. Homemade pies, truffles, cheese, bread, jams, and baskets of seasonal berries can be purchased year round. If you would like to visit or learn about their farm practices or produce, visit http://www.swantonberryfarm.com.