A Lesson from the Rain on Healthy Soil

By Alexis Koefoed, Soul Food Farm

Soul Food Farm‘s Alexis Koefoed shared these photos and thoughts during the rainstorm Oct. 24 that over the weekend brought more than 10 inches of rain to parts of Vacaville and at least 4 inches or more to other areas of Solano County. We wanted to share her insight about the importance of healthy soil in helping to address extreme weather events — a why farms like hers that use regenerative practices are so important.

Photos courtesy of Soul Food Farm

I thought today was a good opportunity to talk about the benefits of leaving living roots in the ground.

The first photo is the ranch directly across the road from Soul Food Farm. For 20 years this field was grazed by cattle and then rotational hay cropped, seeded and baled. While those old time farmers would not have called their farming practices regenerative, they knew how to take care of their land resources. Every year the soil provided grazing and hay crop.

Two years ago a new owner took over the same property and immediately began to overgraze the field with his cattle. To the point that the soil became completely pulverized.

Durning our frequent wind storms, a huge cloud of fecal dust blows over Soul Food Farm.

I’ve watched this living, thriving soil become degraded. A property I used to enviously wish was mine now is watched with worry about how its failure will impact our farm in a severe weather event. Like today.

So the first photo shows major flooding. Without soil cover, weeds, a crop, wild grasses, etc. There are no roots to hold the soil in place. And by extension no biology in the soil to convert carbon drawn from the air into food for the billions of living organism found in vibrant soils.

The next two photos are the fields on my farm. Where we have been practicing and learning to implement regenerative and no till practices for the last six years. The photo of the large field has no flooding.

The photo with some sitting water is roads and walking paths. A mini example of what happens when you have exposed dirt without a living plant on top.

Today while we celebrate the rain, but worry about such a huge moisture dump in a short period, I’m reminded of how important it is to manage our farmlands with integrity.

Extreme weather events are not going to diminish. And we have a huge opportunities as farmers, big or small, to use our soil as buffers to extreme weather conditions.

Healthy soils translate immediately into clean water ways, carbon sinks, healthy crops, thriving microbiology and productive domesticated animals.

Quick & Easy Giardiniera

Photo: Unsplash

Ingredients:

6 oz. cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
1 celery rib, sliced ¼-inch thick
1 carrot, sliced ¼-inch thick
1 ¼ cups seasoned rice vinegar
¼ cup water
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
½ t. red pepper flakes
¼ t. black peppercorns
¼ t. yellow mustard seeds

Place cauliflower, celery and carrot in 1-quart glass jar with tight fitting lid.

Combine vinegar, water, garlic, pepper flakes, peppercorns and mustard seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour brine into jar, making sure all veggies are submerged. Let cool completely.

Attach jar lid and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Giardiniera will keep, refrigerated, for at least 1 week.

Makes about 1 quart, or around 16 servings.

Other additions: try bell peppers, green pimento-stuffed olives and sliced jalapeno peppers for even more spice!

Recipe from Cooks Illustrated

Download a printable version of the recipe here.

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

Suisun City Climate and Environmental Festival to Showcase Resilience

For immediate release

Media Contact: Allison Nagel, communications manager

Interviews, photos and other materials available upon request

Suisun City will hold its first Climate and Environmental Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Suisun Harbor Theater.

The festival creates an opportunity for Suisun City community members and other Solano County residents to connect with organizations focused on the environment and climate resilience. Admission is free.

Suisun City will need to adapt and respond to increased flood risks from climate change, both from increasingly strong storms and sea level rise. The Suisun City Climate and Environmental Festival is being offered by the City of Suisun City and Sustainable Solano’s Resilient Neighborhoods program as a way to build public awareness around environmental risks, and better inform public engagement around developing the city’s Flood Resilience Action Plan.

Participating partners include San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Suisun City Adopt-A-Neighborhood, Bike Mobile, Solano Land Trust, Solano County Resource Conservation District, Fairfield Suisun Sewer District, Suisun City, Solano County Library and MCE Clean Energy.

The Suisun City Climate and Environmental Festival will include booths with family-friendly activities and informative talks on resilience. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission will address the threats from sea level rise and different strategies and solutions for Suisun City. Anne Freiwald and Lydia Neilsen of Vital Cycles will speak about creating climate-conscious landscapes — offering ideas for what residents can do in their yards for more resilience to climate challenges, from flooding to drought.

Nonprofit organizations and community groups are invited to join the festival to showcase their environmental projects and work in Suisun City and around the region. Tabling spaces at the festival are free and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Any group or organization interested in hosting a booth at the festival should contact Resilient Neighborhoods Program Manager Jonathan Erwin at jonathan@sustainablesolano.org

The festival, which will be held mostly outdoors, will meet the county’s current guidelines for health and public safety around COVID-19 protocols.

Find more details here as they’re announced: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/suisun-city-climate-and-environmental-festival-tickets-170477470704

 

Details:

Suisun City Climate and Environmental Festival

10 am- 3 pm Oct. 9

Suisun Harbor Theater

The City of Suisun in partnership with Sustainable Solano will be hosting the city’s inaugural Climate and Environmental Festival showcasing environmental projects and organizations from across Suisun City and the region. The event will include opportunities for residents and participants to engage with organizations to help save the environment and foster climate resilience in Suisun City.

Schedule of Events:
10 am-3 pm Resource and Engagement Fair

11 am Adapting to Rising Tides in Suisun City and across Solano County

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) will share their Adapting to Rising Tide’s (ART) Program work on sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation planning in the San Francisco Bay Area. This will include findings from the 2020 ART Bay Area report on sea level rise vulnerability impacts and consequences in the Suisun/Fairfield area, as well as BCDC’s work on regional sea level rise adaptation through Bay Adapt: A Regional Strategy for a Rising Bay.

11:30 am Climate Futures in Suisun City

Kris May from Silvestrum Climate Associates will discuss sea level rise adaptation opportunities and considerations in Suisun City. In collaboration with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), the 2019 Suisun City Focus Area: Example Application of the Adaptation Planning Process report was created, which provides a hypothetical case study of sea level rise adaptation options in Suisun City.

12 pm Protecting the Marsh: A New Suisun Marsh Protection Plan

BCDC will also provide information about a major project to update the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan, a protection plan aimed at protecting the natural resources of, and public access to, the Suisun Marsh. The Plan, created in the 1970’s is undergoing an update to address a number of changes that have taken place since its creation. We are planning to have many conversations with stakeholders and the public, to gather input and perspectives, as we update the plan. We will present on the status of the update, and our plans for the future.

1 pm Transforming your Yard, Nature based solutions to addressing Climate Change

Anne Freiwald & Lydia Neilsen of Vital Cycles Permaculture will present nature-based solutions to addressing climate change impacts in your yard and community. Learn more about how your lawn and landscape can help make your home and community more resilient to flooding, drought and other climate impacts.

Participating partners:

  • San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
  • Suisun City Adopt-A-Neighborhood
  • Bike Mobile
  • Solano Land Trust
  • Solano County Resource Conservation District
  • Fairfield Suisun Sewer District
  • Suisun City, Solano County Library
  • MCE Clean Energy

Vendors and Groups interested in tabling should contact Jonathan Erwin at jonathan@sustainablesolano.org

 

About Sustainable Solano

Sustainable Solano is a countywide nonprofit organization that is dedicated to “Nurturing Initiatives for the Good of the Whole.” The organization brings together programs that support and sustain one another and the Solano County community. Initiatives include sustainable landscaping, local food, resilient neighborhoods, sustaining conversations and community gardens.

For more information, visit sustainablesolano.org

 

About Resilient Neighborhoods

Sustainable Solano’s Resilient Neighborhoods program is to unite neighbors in working collaboratively, with the support of the greater community, to create robust and regenerative urban ecosystems that mimic nature in performing valuable functions like producing food, filtering air and cycling water. We hope to create a culture of collaboration and mutual investment in a brighter future, instilling new social and environmental connections within communities across the county. The program is funded by the Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation Foundation.

For more information: https://sustainablesolano.org/resilient-neighborhoods/

Bounty of the County Returns Sept. 27-Nov. 7

Celebration of Solano County food will highlight local farms and independent restaurants

Bounty of the County, a celebration of Solano County agriculture and chefs, will feature a different restaurant each week starting Sept. 27 and running through Nov. 7. Each restaurant will highlight in-season ingredients grown on local farms in a special free sample item that will be given to restaurant customers that week. Sustainable Solano will highlight the event with weekly videos, including cooking demonstrations by the chefs and farm profiles.

This is the second year of Bounty of the County, which creates an opportunity to learn about local farms and the importance of local food, while drawing customers to independent restaurants that source locally. Last year’s Bounty of the County also featured wineries, which will be highlighted in separate events in 2022.

Bounty of the County was originally envisioned as a large, in-person event at the Solano County Fairgrounds that would highlight local food in an environment that encouraged food and wine tasting and social interaction with farmers, chefs and winemakers.

Due to COVID-19, the celebration moved online in 2020 with virtual demonstrations and participating restaurants offering featured dishes. After the summer wildfires affected many Solano County farms, last year’s program also became a fundraiser, raising more than $10,000  for wildfire relief.

This year’s celebration continues in a hybrid format, with cooking demonstration videos with local chefs and video farm profiles shared each week on social media and the Bounty of the County webpage. Featured restaurants will offer in-season, complimentary samples made with ingredients from these local farms that customers can try during their week in the spotlight.

Sustainable Solano continues to organize Bounty of the County in partnership with the Solano County Fair Association while working toward the goal of a future in-person public event aligned with public health and safety.

 

2021 Bounty of the County participants include:

Restaurants: BackDoor Bistro (Vacaville), The Barn & Pantry (Dixon), Michael Warring (Vallejo), One House Bakery (Benicia), Rasta Mama’s Kitchen (Vacaville), Two60 Kitchen + Bar (Fairfield)

Farms: Be Love Farm, Eatwell Farm, Lockewood Acres, Terra Firma Farm, Umbel Roots

 

This year’s Bounty of the County was developed in partnership by Sustainable Solano and the Solano County Fair Association.

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Details:

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Sustainable Solano Communications Manager Allison Nagel at 805-512-0901 or allison@sustainablesolano.org or Sustainable Solano Local Food Program Manager Stephanie Oelsligle Jordan at stephanie@sustainablesolano.org

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About Sustainable Solano

Sustainable Solano is a countywide nonprofit organization that is dedicated to “Nurturing Initiatives for the Good of the Whole.” The organization brings together programs that support and sustain one another and the Solano County community. Initiatives include sustainable landscaping, local food, resilient neighborhoods, sustaining conversations and community gardens.

For more information, visit sustainablesolano.org 

About the Solano County Fair Association

The Solano County Fair Association (SCFA) was established in 1946 to produce the annual Solano County Fair and manage the year-round operations of the Solano County Fairgrounds.  Since then, the SCFA has been providing educational, cultural, artistic, commercial and recreational programs to the residents of Solano County for more than 70 years.

For more information, visit https://www.scfair.com/ 

For immediate release

Media Contact: Allison Nagel, communications manager

Interviews, photos and other materials available upon request

Watermelon Curry Sauce over Pan-Seared Potatoes & Zucchini

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 medium red pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tomato chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 green zucchini, 1/4-inch round cut
1 small potato, large dice chop
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t cinnamon
1 t paprika
1/2 Tbsp turmeric
1 t ground ginger
1/2 Tbsp garam masala
1/2 t chili powder
1 Tbsp curry powder
3 1/2 cups of water
5-10 1-inch pieces of ripe watermelon
1 to 2 Tbsp honey
1-2 t soy sauce
A few leaves of cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste (use sparingly)
Optional: 1 cup coconut milk

Begin by getting a medium saucepan and adding 2 Tbsp of EVOO, on medium heat. Add your chopped onion and garlic, season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until onions and garlic are beginning to be translucent. Add red pepper and cook for 1 minute or until peppers have a bright red color. When peppers brighten up, add carrots. Stir and coat the carrots with excess oil. After the carrots are coated, add your seasonings and tomato. Do not add salt and pepper during this phase. We will add salt and pepper after blending our product, if necessary. Add your 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer until carrots are soft, about 20 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, begin pan frying your vegetables. Add 2 Tbsp of EVOO in a small frying pan and bring heat to medium high. Add your potatoes and brown one side for 3-5 minutes, then flip. Add a 1/2 cup of water and bring heat down to medium heat and let simmer. Once most of the liquid has evaporated, take out potatoes and add in your zucchini. Turn heat to high and brown both sides. Set your veg aside either in your oven or microwave when your veg is finished.

Once your carrots are soft, transfer your curry into a blender and blend starting at a low interval and move to high speed. (When blending hot liquid, be sure to allow the steam to vent. Do not cover the blender completely when starting it.) While the curry is blending, add watermelon chunks, soy sauce, and honey. [Optional: Add coconut milk in the blender with the watermelon, soy sauce, and honey.] Blend until smooth and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste and blend again. Plate your veggies and pour your curry sauce on top. Add a few leaves of cilantro for color and enjoy!

  • Sauce yield: 4
  • Seasonal Vegetable yield: 2

Recipe courtesy of Kristen James

 

Download a printable version of the recipe here.

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