Although cherries got hit hard this year, peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots seem to have been less affected with most varieties appearing right on schedule and in good supply. As we head towards July many of the mid-season varieties are taking a turn on both the Oliveto dinner menu and the dessert menu and occasionally showing up in the early a.m. cafe in the form of a pop-up crostata (which goes great with an cappuccino btw).
Today marks the first day of Summer 2011 and many signs of the season were on display at the Derby Street Market: fragrant basil, cherry tomatoes from Full Belly, summer squash and those knockout long stem Seascape strawberries from Lucero, and piles of “ripe shamefaced peaches” (had to get in a belated Bloomsday reference) at Blossom Bluff.
But one of the definitive signs that it is truly summer at the Derby Street market is the appearance of our friends from Dirty Girl Produce. And there they were! Right next to a freakin’ harp player!
Seems that Santa Cruz was not as waylaid by rain as it was last year, so most of Dirty Girl’s crops were planted on schedule. Their romanesco was looking particularly lovely today, as well as some smaller bunched broccoli. Coming up: beans. Lots and lots of beans (haricots vert, romano, cannellini, among others) should be arriving from Dirty Girl Produce within the next few weeks. And the official statement on dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes? ETA: 4-5 weeks.
Established in 1931
Ted and Fran Loewer
Great-grandparents Daniel and Babette Lichti originally purchased thirty acres of the farm in 1931 where they lived and raised their eight children. Their son Herb took over the farm in the 1940s. Herb bought an adjacent piece of property and with wife Elise they raised their three children and tended the farm. In 1980, Fran and Ted moved into their grandparents old farmhouse with their two children, Renata and Bryce.
Ted quickly made changes, both in farming and marketing practices. He moved the farm from conventional to sustainable practices outlined by California Clean guidelines. In 2006, Blossom Bluff was certified organic by CCOF. Over the past twenty years, Ted raised the variety count from about twenty to over a hundred-ninety, often choosing heirloom vareities for flavor instead of durability. He located direct outlets, including farmers markets and grocers, and Fran developed relationships with some of the Bay Area’s finest restaurants and bakeries.
Carrying the business into a fourth generation, their children, Bryce and Renata are both involved with marketing, managing accounts, & farmers’ markets.
Busiest months are May – September. Sell at farmers’ markets year round.
All fruit is hand picked and packed. No machines are used.
Weather is a big concern for organic stone fruit growers in general. A wet spring can be devastating for fruit durability. On market days, the commute (3.5 hours) can be taxing.
It is important to the Loewers to keep the family farm running and work the rural/urban connection. They love meeting the people they sell their fruit to. The unique varieties they grow and sell interest and excite their customers.
Community Supported Agriculture
Blossom Bluff Orchards has just started a Summer Stone Fruit CSA in partnership with T&D Willey Farms. Email for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ted and Fran’s son Bryce recently bought his aunt’s house and property and is moving back to the farm. Their daughter Renata lives in Berkeley and manages the storage/warehouse and employees there.
Length of Relationship with Oliveto
50 acres between Reedley and Sanger along the Kings River
Over 180 varieties of fruit including peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, pluots, apriums, persimmons, figs, pomegranates, oranges, citron, mandarins, and meyer lemons.
Berkeley Derby Street – Tuesday
Berkeley Downtown – Saturday
Oakland Grand Lake – Saturday
Oakland Temescal – Sunday
San Francisco Civic Center – Thursday
San Francisco Ferry Building – Saturday