Groveland Farmer’s Market Starts May 24

Just a reminder that the Groveland Farmer’s Market begins May 24. This year the market will be Saturdays only but with slightly extended hours — from 8am to 2pm. As always we encourage our customers to come early as we tend to sell out of certain items.

Our spring planting was fraught with setbacks and so we won’t have quite the selection we expected, but we’ll have eggs, turnips, spinach, arugula, fresh herbs, and strawberries as well as a few other items.

Fortunately we’ve been planting up a storm and have a huge number of things in the ground much earlier than last year. So we’ll have everything from beans to zucchini quite a bit earlier and of course in much greater quantities. We also have quite a number of new items — like eggplant, which we are really excited about!

We really look forward to seeing you all again!

To our Friends in Sonora

Last year many of you enjoyed the produce we offered at the Groveland Farmer’s Market and asked us if we could sell it at the “Certified” Farmer’s Market in Sonora. While it wasn’t feasible to do so last year because of the size of our production we did apply to be a vendor at the Sonora Market this year.

We regret that our vendor application was denied. We were told variously that all spaces were taken and/or that our offerings would duplicate what was being sold by other vendors. While we share your frustration that the market continues to admit out-of-county vendors from the central valley while denying small local farms a place, we hope that you will still patronize the Sonora Market and favor truly local farms such as Blue Oak Farm. We suggest that when you are at the market you ask where each vendor farms — the truth is that the California “Certified Farmer’s Market” program is no assurance of anything and it makes sense to, as we like to say, “know your farmer”. If you have concerns about the “local-ness” of the produce or the quality or diversity of the offerings at the market you might express this to Sheala Wilkinson, the Special Programs Coordinator for the county, at 209-532-7725

If you are able to come down to Groveland our farm is open Thursdays 3-6pm and we are also at the Groveland Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 8am to 2pm starting May 24.

Sorry! We tried!

What is Local?

You walk into the supermarket hundreds of miles from the nearest peach orchard and see what looks like a handwritten chalkboard sign proclaiming the unripe peaches to be “locally grown”. How can this be?

Many large food retailers, such as Walmart, define local as being from the same state. If you live in northern California and buy food produced in southern California that could mean over 700 miles by air, much more by road. Other stores use a maximum distance, such as 50 miles for Raley’s. Whole Foods dodges the question by saying they often use state lines or regions of their own definition but generally leave it up to the individual store.

You wouldn’t say that your “local plumber” or “local dentist” is someone in a town 300 miles away that you’ve never visited, so why say that about food?

For us at Hopping Rabbit Farm, local produce means that it comes from a farm you can comfortably visit from the place you live. For us, local also suggests belonging to your community and that you are able to know the producer personally.

Because we believe in truly local food production, we will never sell our produce through distributors who might take our produce far away and sell it to someone who has no knowledge of the farm or who we are.

So why is locally produced food important anyway?

Impact on your health: Fresher produce isn’t just tastier, it is better for you. The USDA acknowledges that for most types of fruits and vegetables essential vitamins and nutrients are lost from produce very rapidly after harvest. The produce we sell at the Groveland Farmer’s Market or at the farm is generally picked the same morning we sell it. That means it’s just plain better for you.

Impact on your taste buds: Everyone knows that a peach you buy at Walmart just isn’t ripe. Produce, and fruit especially, that has to be shipped long distances is picked unripe so it can withstand the rigors of shipping. This goes for tomatoes, green peppers and even things like squash. Of course most produce tends to lose flavor when stored for long periods. We notice the difference and so do our customers!

Impact on the environment: It should go without saying that the farther your food is shipped the greater the environmental cost. So even if you are buying organically grown produce, it’s carbon footprint could be huge. In addition to the environmental cost of transportation, the cost of shipping puts pressure on producers to grow food as cheaply as possible, meaning even “organically grown” produce may be done so unsustainably using whatever methods extract the most income without regard for the future of the soil or environment.

Impact on producer income: Consumer expectations mean vegetables can only be sold for a certain amount of money. When you ship a green pepper 2000 miles from Mexico to sell it for the same price as something grown one mile away so much more of your costs are put into transportation, handling, and refrigeration that you have very little left over to pay the producer. Of course, if that pepper is sitting in a warehouse or on a truck for two weeks, you couldn’t charge very much for it, could you? So this may be cost-effective for the huge producer, but it naturally hurts the people who are doing the actual work. This also tends to deflate prices which means local small growers who may have higher costs don’t get paid as much either!

Impact on your community: When you buy something produced where you live, that money stays in the community. In our case, we support local businesses as much as we can and favor buying supplies from local stores. This means if you buy produce from us you are supporting the local economy and helping to create and maintain jobs here — both directly and indirectly.

Impact on jobs: To keep prices artificially low in selling produce that has to be shipped so far, big producers need to keep wages low. If the produce is grown in this county that almost always means hiring illegal immigrants who are grossly mistreated and poorly paid, and who usually send a large percentage of their earnings out of the country. We understand fully why someone might want to live and work in this country for economic reasons, but the impact of illegal immigration on our economy cannot be denied. And no matter who is employed to produce crops, higher shipping costs mean lower wages.

Know your farmer, know your food… support your community!

Closing for the Winter, November 2

After a series of setbacks from the Rim Fire, Government Shutdown, and evil ground squirrels, we have decided to close down for the winter starting November 1. We plan to start up again sometime in April. We still have plenty of Butternut and Delicata squash as well as pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers and a few other items, and will be open one last weekend on Thursday, October 31, and Saturday, November 2 outside Mountain Sage in Groveland.

This hasn’t been an easy decision. We felt a responsibility to the community to provide fresh produce as long as possible, and we knew from the previous winter that certain things do rather well here. Of course, we also needed the money to fund our start up next year.

So we feel we must explain what happened: We were trying to plant our fall crops just before and during the period of the Rim Fire. Busy with fire preparations, certain crops didn’t get planted or weren’t given the attention they required. We re-planted several things that failed, but then lost a number of crops to an infestation of ground squirrels. This was really the last straw, as by this time it was to late to re-plant things like beets or cabbage, and we would have ended up with a long gap with virtually nothing to sell.

But in many ways, closing up shop for the winter is a blessing. We are in desperate need of some time off! Of course, this means still working to prepare for the next season, but it will be far less hectic.

We want to thank all of our customers for your amazing support in our first season! There is no way we could have predicted the reception we received by the community, which has been universally supportive and kind.

Next year we plan to increase production, both in quantity and variety, and to have produce available for much longer in the season. We remain committed, however, to quality and freshness and of course to truly local farming.

We’ll continue to post occasional updates to our blog throughout the winter and look forward to seeing you all again in the spring!

We’ll be closed Sept 26-28

We wanted to let everyone know that the farm will not be open on Thursday September 26 and that we will not be selling at the Groveland Farmer’s Market on the 27th or 28th.

We will be participating in the week-long Yosemite Facelift, a volunteer cleanup event put on by the Yosemite Climbing Association. We are also sponsoring a group dinner on the 28th at the Yellow Pine Campground.

The Yosemite Facelift is a fantastic opportunity to help give back to and care for one of the most beautiful places on earth. You don’t need to signup in advance or camp out to participate — just show up at the Visitor’s Center in Yosemite Valley any day from Wednesday Sept 25 to Sunday Sept 29 after 8am to pick up materials and get instructions. Every evening there is a raffle and climbing-related entertainment, but you don’t have to be a rock climber to enjoy it!

For more information and a full program, visit the Yosemite Climbing Association Website.

Although the Groveland Farmer’s Market will likely be winding down at the end of September we’ll still be there every Saturday morning. Our Thursday hours will continue as usual on October 3.

Returning to normal

The lines on the south west edge of the Rim Fire near Pilot Ridge have been holding for a couple of days, giving us a chance to feel like everything will be ok. The direct danger to us was only ever a slight possibility, but the unpredictability of the fire and the fact that it was spreading south and west against prevailing winds has kept everybody in Greeley Hill on edge.

We have devoted most of the time since the fire began to additional fire preparations around the house. This being our first fire season we really weren’t clued in to all that needed to be done. We did all the basics fairly early on, and were told by Cal Fire that at least the main house was “in good shape”. But have a looming fire just miles away forced us to look much more closely at all the things that would make a difference if a fire were to  come sweeping up the valley or if one were close enough to drop burning embers near the house.

As a result we’ve hauled away yards and yards of dry grass and leaves, re-enforced our fire break, cut back trees and made doubly sure to clean up any flammable materials away.

We are tremendously thankful that our property has not been directly impacted by the fire and feel so much more worry for our friends who had been evacuated or had their properties damaged. Seeing the help and support that was extended to those affected reminds us what a great community this is and how glad we are we decided to call it home.

 

But the fire has taken it’s toll. As with everybody in the area, we’ve lost a huge amount of business during peak season. We’ve been unable to work outside for extended periods because of the smoke, and the fire prep has taken valuable time away from planting crops and managing our fields.

 

I post all this because I hope that you will understand if we aren’t able to come through with some of the produce we have promised. The second harvest of corn, for example, has largely been eaten by raccoons that we haven’t had the time to deal with. Our entire lettuce crop is a bust, although we will replant.

It’s only today, knowing that the hard work of our amazing fire crews is meeting with much success, that I feel we can begin returning to normal and devoting our efforts to providing for our community.

We thank you for your patience, understanding, and support!

We are open on Thursday, August 22

We know that many of you are very concerned about the Rim Fire, as are we. The weekend Farmer’s Market has been cancelled, but we will be open on Thursday from 3-6pm as usual. We will have some wonderful melons and green peppers in addition to our usual offerings.

 

Melons are Here!

We just harvested over 60 lbs of Eden’s Gem, a wonderful heirloom melon with the most amazing flavor.

We’ll have these tomorrow at the open farm and Friday at the Groveland Market. I’m guessing we’ll sell out before Saturday, but we do have some fantastic Honeydew melons as well.

Eden’s Gem Melons

No Immediate Threat From Rim Fire

Most of you live in this area so you already know that the Rim Fire is mainly moving east — to the south along Pilot Ridge and to the north along the Tuolumne River drainage. We are concerned for our friends at Evergreen but we ourselves are in no danger — the western edge of the fire is about 6 miles from us at it’s closest and prevailing winds are keeping it from spreading too much to the west.

The gals at Growsemite were forced to evacuate their place, which is less than a mile from the fire’s edge at Ferretti Rd and Hwy 120. They are all safe and as far as we know there is no longer a threat to Casa Loma.

Even though we are safe this time, it’s yet another reminder that there is always more to be done in terms of fire preparation — we’ve put a bunch of time into raking up even more dry grass and clearing flammable “junk” from around the house.

Smoke behind the house from the Rim Fire

Smoke behind the house from the Rim Fire