Tomato Watch Week 18 (Part 2): In which we also consider the eggplant

Chef Paul Canales hit up the Derby Street Farmers’ Market yesterday with daughter Eva in tow. The duo got a look at some of the recently available tomatoes at Riverdog Farm, Catalan Farms, Lucero Organic Farm, and Full Belly Farm. Tomato season should hit its peak in the next few weeks, giving the chefs time to evaluate what’s up to snuff for this year’s tomato dinners.

In the meantime, the current showstopper is eggplant. Chef Canales shows us the three varieties he’s particularly fond of and explains how he likes to use them. Eggplant will be on the Oliveto menu in a variety of dishes over the next few days including:

Conchiglie with Rosa Bianca egglpant and pancetta

Stuffed chard and fried ricotta polpettini with wood-oven-roasted eggplant purée

Canales & Fujimoto Walk The Market

Yesterday’s solstice officially marked the beginning of summer, but already the markets are bursting with incredible produce. New things keep showing up every week; out of this world strawberries, followed by cherries and the rest of the stone fruits, summer squashes, pole beans, and right around the corner the first of the figs.

Last Tuesday, Chef Paul Canales and Bill Fujimoto met up at the Derby Street Farmers’ Market in Berkeley to get a taste of what’s great right now, and also to show us what to look for as the summer progresses.

video shot and edited by Ben Schwartz

We’ve Found Our Yolk

After performing a thorough battery of tests, Chef Canales thinks he’s found just the right eggs to create the lush, deep yellow pasta often only found in Italy. The secret is pasture-raised hens. Hens allowed to pasture ingest a much wider range of nutrients producing egg yolks that offer a particular richness and superior flavor. We get to see some of the pasture raised hens at Riverdog Farm in action and hear about the downside of producing such wonderful eggs: EGG RAGE.

Tomato Watch Week 3

First wave of plantings at Lucero Farm, Full Belly Farm and Riverdog Farm.

Watch the videos

We’re at the beginning of planting season for Bay Area farms.
As asparagus and artichokes abound, Lucero, Full Belly and Riverdog Farms are also dodging spring frosts and making their plans for restricted water use.

Judith Redmond at Full Belly Farm says they will have several waves of tomato plantings.

At the beginning of April, about half of this year’s tomato crop at Lucero Farm in Lodi CA, is in the ground.

Trini Campbell and Tim Mueller of Riverdog Farm, April 8th in the Capay Valley, Yolo County, California.

Tomato Watch 2009 starts NOW!!!

trini judith

Watch the videos

The battle of the microclimates. All around the Bay hundreds of thousands of tomato seedlings are going into the ground: Week One of Tomato Watch 2009. Here at the Oliveto Community Journal we’ll be watching their progress, from the coast to the inland valleys, north to south.  Tomato cam?!?!? Not exactly—we hope it will be better, richer. We’ll track a wealth of tomato varieties as they bud, grow and ripen to perfection, following them to market and to our tables.

To kick off TOMATO WATCH 2009, we start an hour and a half north of Oakland in the Capay Valley, visiting Trini Campbell of Riverdog Farm and Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm (#9 and #15 on the “In Place” farmer’s map.)

Every year we schedule our annual Tomato Dinner (Aug. 26-29 this year) to correspond with when we think the fullest range of tomatoes will be at their peak. But that date is always only a guess. In fact, every year, every area and every variety is different. This year, we thought we’d try to discover why and how that comes about. Here is some of what we’ll be looking at:

  • We’ll follow this season of tomatoes as they grow, noting what is ripe and when.
  • The Oliveto chefs’ tomato tasting will rate each variety from each farm for acidity, sweetness, and specific attributes—designating each its role within the annual tomato dinner menu to best bring out those attributes.
  • We’ll examine the effects of different farming methods: water timing, dry-farming, cover crops, fertilizers, and rotation.
  • We’ll hear how our farmers are dealing with current water shortages.
  • And we’ll meet some farmers.

You can monitor tomato progress from:

  • Journal Contents – Tomato Watch
  • Farmer’s map (Community in Place) farm balloons
  • Tomato Watch Timeline (Community in Time)

Update from Full Belly Farm – Spring 2009

We’ve heard back from Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm in Guinda in response to the spring questionnaire we sent out last week. Here’s what she told us:


1. What are you planting?

Judith Redmond: When the soil dries out we’ll start planting flowers and spring greens. The tomatoes will go into the ground in mid-March!

2. What are you excited about that is new this year?

Judith Redmond: We hope to start construction on a new, beautiful and functional office. The office is one of the major information hubs for the entire farm. If we can pull off our plans, life will be much easier for our hard-working office staff.

3. What are you excited about that is not new?

Judith Redmond: All the crops feel new every year – spring asparagus and English peas that we grow every year are always exciting when they first arrive.

4. What are you concerned about?

Judith Redmond: There is not enough water in our local reservoirs to make releases into Cache Creek, one of our important sources of irrigation water. We will have to cut back on our plantings in order to have enough water to keep our crops healthy.

2017-09-12T15:49:09-07:00March 6th, 2009|Full Belly Farm|0 Comments

Full Belly Farm – Profile

full_belly_farm_500                  Full Belly Farm's annual  Hoes Down Festival  2007

Established 1985


Andrew Brait, Paul Muller, Judith Redmond, and Dru Rivers


They pick and pack fruit and vegetables year-round


Full Belly’s system includes: growing and marketing over 80 different crops; providing year-round employment for farm labor; using cover crops that fix nitrogen and provide organic matter for the soil; developing innovative marketing strategies; and planting habitat areas for beneficial insects and wildlife. This set of strategies allows the farm to integrate farm production with longer-term environmental goals.

Full Belly is also home to many outreach activities, including educational tours, school group visits, and the much-acclaimed annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival (pictured above). The Hoes Down Festival celebrates rural life and educates the public about growing food in a sustainable manner. Through such programs, Full Belly seeks to create awareness of farm realities and to stress the importance of farms in the fabric of our society.

Chef Canales says Full Belly was the first farm to provide Oliveto with Rosa Bianca eggplant. “They also supply us with superior whole wheat that is used to give our pasta a unique texture and nuttiness. They are very involved in the larger issues around food policy and practices and set an admirable example for other farms.”

Community Supported Agriculture Programs

Operates a Community Supported Agricultural project that forges a direct connection between the farm and the people who buy and eat its produce. By belonging to the CSA, members support organic farming practices that are healthful for people and the environment. Members receive boxes of fresh produce delivered to convenient neighborhood locations in the East Bay, San Rafael, and the South Bay, as well as in Sacramento, Davis, Woodland, and Esparto. Learn more here.

Length of relationship with Oliveto

Since 1994


250 acres in Guinda, part of the Capay Valley


Vegetables, stone fruit, walnuts, herbs, flowers

Organizations / Certification

CCOF since 1985


Majority is distributed within a 120 mile radius to restaurants, stores, farmers’ markets, and through their CSA

Farmers’ markets

Berkeley Derby Street – Tuesdays
Palo Alto – Saturday
San Rafael – Thursday



2017-09-12T15:49:17-07:00January 1st, 2009|Farmers, Full Belly Farm|0 Comments
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