Grant Expands Resilient Neighborhoods Program to Suisun City & Helps Address Flood Risk

By Sustainable Solano

Community members and volunteers came together to create Vallejo’s first Resilient Neighborhood hub in 2019. The program will expand to Suisun City in 2021.

Sustainable Solano is excited to announce that we have received a grant through PG&E Corporation Foundation that will support helping Suisun City residents learn about and address the challenges of increased flooding and bring together city leaders and community members as they work on larger plans to address flood risks from sea-level rise and more severe rain events.

The funding through the Better Together Resilient Communities Grant will grow Sustainable Solano’s Resilient Neighborhoods program, which began in Vallejo last year as a pilot project to bring neighbors together through sustainable landscaping projects and build community capacity and resilience. That pilot program was funded through a previous grant from PG&E and supported the creation of two neighborhood Resilient Hubs in Vallejo, Morningside Botanical Bounty and Growing Together.

We will use the insights and lessons learned from the Vallejo pilot as well as other Sustainable Solano programs to support the development of the new Suisun City project. We have learned that community strengths reside in people’s hearts, in their ability to work together toward common goals and to consider the good of the whole. One of the key goals of the project is wide community outreach and meetings that will shape the city’s Suisun City Flood Resiliency Action Plan.

We will create a Resilient Neighborhood in a Suisun City community at high risk for flooding that also has environmental and socioeconomic factors that make that create more vulnerability and less resiliency when faced with natural disasters. Various green infrastructure elements, such as stormwater-capturing in-ground swales, trees for shade and soil stabilization, rainwater-capturing edible landscapes, or other community-selected solutions, will be installed throughout the neighborhood through hands-on workshops. These workshops will provide information and get community input on flood risk.

As part of the project, a Youth Environmental Leadership internship will create the opportunity to work with our team learning about flooding risks, mitigation strategies, community outreach and Resilient Neighborhoods. Their experience also will help shape future youth fellowships.

Finally, we hope this project will serve as a catalyst for bringing together cities with shared and similar vulnerabilities. With the help of our partners, we want to support Solano County governments that face flooding risks in initiating multijurisdictional efforts to address those risks. Partners for the project include the city of Suisun City and the Suisun City Environment and Climate Committee, and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. BCDC has studied flood risk in the county and the need for more equitable planning that involves the community. It will help foster collaboration between different municipalities and organizations.

An important part of this expansion will be hiring a new Resilient Neighborhoods program manager at Sustainable Solano. The program manager in this part-time position will be charged with bringing together community members to discuss community-driven approaches to flooding challenges, coordinating with city leaders as they create their own strategies to address flood risk and cooperate with other Solano County city leaders who face similar or shared risks, and overseeing the work of the Youth Environmental Leadership interns. The position will be posted soon, and we hope to fill it by mid-January with a candidate who is comfortable both working closely with community members as well as elected officials and city staff.

We are so excited about bringing the Resilient Neighborhoods program to Suisun City through this project and look forward to sharing more with you in the months to come!

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad

Ingredients:

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. minced shallot
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
¼ t. kosher salt, plus more to taste
Ground black pepper
2 large bunches Tuscan kale (about 1 ½ lb. total), stemmed and leaves thinly sliced
12 oz. Brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
1 cup finely grated Pecorino

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic ½ t. salt and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to mix; set aside for flavors to blend. Mix sliced kale and brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure ½ cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 T. oil from cup into a small skillet. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil (in the cup) into the lemon juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture, tossing to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Chef’s Note: Dressing, kale/Brussels sprouts mixture and almonds can all be prepared 8 hours ahead! Cover dressing and refrigerate; cover veggies and refrigerate; cover almonds and keep at room temperature. Combine before service.

Recipe from Bon Appetit

Download a printable version of the recipe here

Learn about this recipe by watching the cooking class below

Twice-Roasted Squash (& Toasted Squash Seeds)

Use your winter squash for a seasonal side dish — and then do something fun with the seeds — in these recipes: Twice-Roasted Squash with Parmesan Butter & Grains and Toasted Squash Seeds

Twice-Roasted Squash with Parmesan Butter & Grains

Squash:

One 3-4 lb. kabocha, buttercup or red kuri squash
3 oz. Parmesan, grated + extra for serving
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ t. grated lemon zest
Salt & pepper

Dressing & Assembly:

3 T. lemon juice
3 T. unseasoned rice vinegar
3 T. olive oil
1 T. honey
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups cooked whole grains (barley, farro, etc.)
1/3 cup unsalted, roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
3 T. golden raisins or Pomegranate seeds

Place oven rack in middle position, and pre-heat to 300. Line a sheet pan with foil. Prick squash all over with the point of a paring knife and place on foil-lined sheet pan. Roast until very tender, about 3 hours. (Knife should slide easily through the flesh.) Or, roast at 425 degrees for 1 hour. Tear or cut squash in half and let sit until cool enough to handle.

Remove seeds and scoop flesh into a medium bowl. Tear skin into 6 large pieces and set aside on same baking sheet. Add Parmesan, butter and lemon zest to bowl with flesh and mash to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Move rack to upper third of oven and increase temperature to 450. Divide mashed squash mixture among reserved pieces of skin and roast until top is beginning to brown, 10-12 minutes.

For dressing / toppings: Whisk lemon juice, vinegar, oil and honey in large bowl. Add scallions, grains, pepitas and raising/pomegranate to dressing and toss to coat.
Arrange squash on a platter and spoon grain mixture and dressing over. Top with shaved Parmesan.

Makes 4-6 servings.

 

Recipe from Bon Appetit

Download a printable version of the recipe here

Toasted Squash Seeds

Ingredients:

1 cup seeds from pumpkin / winter squash / honeydew melon, etc.
2 t. olive oil
1 t. spice blend (1/4 – ½ t. measurements of various spices, to equal 1 t. total)
½ t. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Rinse seeds and dry on a towel for 15 minutes. Toss seeds with oil & spices. Line sheet pan with parchment and spread seeds out.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through. Cool and enjoy!

Download a printable version of the recipe here

Learn how to make these recipes by watching the cooking class below

 

CSA Farm Spotlight: Wilkinson Acres

By Sustainable Solano

This is an ongoing series profiling local farms that have Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) available in Solano County. CSAs create a way for community members to buy a share of the harvest directly from local farmers. Customers pay a set amount and receive a box of seasonal produce or other farm products in return. Such arrangements help farmers receive a greater share of the money paid, bring customers fresh, local produce and promote health, community and the local economy.

Mike and Courtney Wilkinson of Wilkinson Acres

Mike and Courtney Wilkinson started thinking about their future together after they were married — and what they really wanted to do with their lives.

“After a lot of discussion, we decided what we wanted more than anything was a lifestyle — one in which we could provide good, healthy food for our community while enjoying the freedoms (and responsibilities) of owning our own small business,” Courtney said.

The two left their jobs as a building engineer and high school teacher and started Wilkinson Acres in Fairfield about a year ago, where they use low-till and organic practices to grow vegetables and fruit for their customers, which include restaurants, weekly visitors to their farm stand and, starting in January, CSA members.

Below is a Q&A with Courtney about Wilkinson Acres:

  • Wilkinson Acres
  • Fairfield
  • 5 acres
  • 2019

 

When did you start offering a CSA? Why was it important to offer?

Our first ever CSA starts in January 2021! 2020 was a crazy year of pivoting due to COVID-19. The closure of many of our restaurant accounts required a shift in our business model towards our direct community. We realized that now more than ever it’s important for us to make healthy, organic food accessible to our immediate neighborhood and county. The CSA model allows our community to give us a boost at the beginning of the season, ensuring we can provide them with the best of our product for the 16-week season!

Are there special perks for CSA members? Why do people tend to subscribe?

There are definitely perks to being a member! For starters, all members get an extra 10% off at the farm stand (on-site), as well as a weekly Member Newsletter, featuring recipe ideas for the week’s produce. We’re working on more perks, in conjunction with some of our farm stand partner vendors. Stay tuned!

What’s something that makes your farm stand out?

Our organic certification. We’re certified organic by CCOF and, as far as we can tell, we are the only officially certified organic farm in the Fairfield/Suisun Valley area. We take a tremendous amount of pride in our organic transparency and the quality of our certified organic product. We are looking to implement even more organic and sustainable practices around the farm in the years to come.

We use low-till growing practices to build soil health, which, in turn, grows better produce. Encouraging all the good bugs and bacteria to live in our soil by not tilling up their ecosystem and by adding in organic compost benefits the farmer and the plants. These beneficials, as we call them, help the plants take in and process nutrients, resulting in healthier, tastier food. Low-till farming is environmentally friendly, sustainable, and low-waste. It may not be the easiest way to farm, but we believe sustainable growing practices create better farms, food and families.

Anything exciting on the horizon? What do you see happening and what do you want to see happen with interest in local food?

The opening of our first CSA! We’re focusing hard on making the CSA kickoff in January an exceptional customer experience. Check out our website (WilkinsonAcres.com) for all the details.

With regards to interest in local food — we’d love to see more! We’ve had the great fortune to start creating relationships with a lot of passionate foodies in Solano County, but we know there are so many more people in our county that can and should benefit from the fantastic variety in the local ag and hospitality industries.

Anything else you’d like to add?

A big huge thank you to all of our customers! It’s been a wild couple of years for all of us and we know we would not be here without them. We are so deeply grateful for the welcome we’ve received from the agricultural community in Solano County. If you haven’t visited us yet, come see us every Saturday, 8 am-noon at the farm stand [winter hours: 10 am-2 pm]. We’re looking forward to meeting you!

Wilkinson Acres has its Solano County CSA drop site at the farm. Learn more about how to sign up here.

Find out more about local CSAs here.

Coconut Green Curry with Seasonal Vegetables

Photo: Unsplash

Ingredients:

Green Curry Paste:
1 whole bunch cilantro (1/2 cup stems chopped and leaves set aside)
3-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium shallots, coarsely chopped
1-2 green chiles (jalapeno / serrano), chopped
2 limes, divided
1 T. brown sugar
1 t. ground coriander
Kosher salt, as needed (1t. + extra)
1-2 T. water

Veggies, etc. (adjust quantities to your liking!)
6-8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 heaping cup cabbage (any variety), cut into large dice
1 heaping cup pumpkin/winter squash
1 cup green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 small red bell pepper, sliced
2 T. neutral oil (avocado / safflower / grapeseed, etc.)
1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk
About 1 cup water

Garnishes / accompaniments:
8 oz. rice noodles
About 3-4 T. dry-roasted peanuts
Lime wedges
Cilantro leaves

Make curry: Grate zest from 1 lime. Combine cilantro stems, ginger, garlic cloves, shallots, chiles and lime zest in a food processor or blender. Add 1 T. brown sugar, 1 t. ground coriander and a big pinch of kosher salt. Puree, adding 1-2 T. water until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.

Prep veggies as directed above. Heat 2 T. oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and pumpkin/winter squash. Season with salt. Saute until water releases and then evaporates from mushrooms. Add peppers and green beans and saute a few minutes more. Add reserved curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to stick to the pan, about 4 minutes.

Add coconut milk and 1 cup water and deglaze the pan. Season with 1 t. salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add cabbage. Cook, stirring occasionally until flavors come together and curry thickens slightly, 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare rice noodles according to package instructions.

Taste curry, season with additional salt if needed. Serve curry over rice or rice noodles, topped with cilantro, peanuts and lime wedges.

Serves 4-6.

Chef’s Notes: This recipe is great year-round! Here are veggies that work well and can be added when in season: bell peppers, green beans, summer squash, bok choy, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, any kind of mushroom, pumpkin/winter squash. Edamame or tofu can be added for extra protein.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

Download a printable version of the recipe here.

Learn how to make this recipe by watching the cooking class below