Tomato Watch Week 18: Riverdog Farm

Cherry tomatoes and Sun Golds are tasting delicious right now, but we’re still waiting on Early Girls, San Marzanos, Red Zebras, Pineapples, and the rest of the larger varieties to hit their peak flavor. If everything goes according to plan, that should happen some time over the next three to four weeks just in time for our annual Tomato dinners.

We visited with Trini Campbell and Tim Mueller of Riverdog Farm back in April, soon after their tomato plants went in the ground. Tim tells us what the next few months will require to insure healthy, flavorful tomatoes by August: lots of attention, diligence, and a variety of essential oils that help to combat against an even wider variety of pests.

Edited by Dallas Mark

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)

Riverdog Farm – Profile


Established 1991


Trini Campbell and Tim Mueller

Tim and Trini started farming two acres in Rutherford, CA in 1990. Gradually, after much trial and error, the farm has evolved into a very diverse, year-round farm that relies on a combination of wholesale, retail, farmers markets, and a 1,000-member Community Supported Agriculture program. They employ 50 year-round employees.

Chef Canales says “in the last five years Riverdog has become one of our most important farms. It is hard to say what they don’t do well. While they are a larger sized farm, their produce tastes as though it has been given all the time and attention of a personal garden.


Tractors for transplanting, weed control, and some harvesting.


Challenges include the rising costs of fuel and other essential inputs. Consumer expectation of a low price of produce makes rising costs difficult to absorb. It is always a struggle to continue to offer increasing wages to our employees.


“Farming and access to abundant organic food feeds our souls. We face daily challenges, puzzles and struggles on the farm yet continue to be amazed by the magic of the seed transforming into the food on our tables,” says Trini. “Offering over 100 tomato varieties makes us proud! We also take pride in offering our employees health insurance.”


Implementation of an organic field and crop management program. The fertility program includes the use of compost and amendments such as ocean products.

Community Supported Agricultural Programs

Currently serving 1,000 members. They distribute to the East Bay, Sacramento/Davis, Napa County, Solano County, and Yolo County. Learn more.

Other plans

Almond butter, eggs laid by pastured hens, and pork.

Anything else you would like to tell us?

Thank you for supporting Riverdog Farm and all the families who work here.

Length of relationship with Oliveto

Over a decade


Guinda, CA


Wide variety from Padron chili peppers to Vintage Wine tomatoes to Orchid watermelon. Secondary crops: Many crops from almonds to Costada Romanesco zucchini.



Community Alliance of Family Farmers

Yolo County Farm Bureau

The Yolo Land Trust

Farmers’ markets

Berkeley Derby Street – Tuesday

Berkeley Shattuck Avenue – Thursday

Berkeley Downtown – Saturday



A Farmer’s Observations: The Gift of Good Land in Spring

2017-09-12T15:49:15-07:00February 6th, 2009|Farmers, Riverdog Farm|0 Comments

From the Kitchen – Tomato Dinners 2009


Wednesday, August 26th – Saturday, August 29th

Make a Reservation

About a week before Tomato Dinners, when most of the tomatoes we will have to choose from are available for tasting, Chef Paul Canales and the cooks sit down with scores of varieties, mostly heirloom but some – like Early Girl-hybrids, and sort out which are the best, what their characteristics are, and how they might be prepared to best advantage. Amazingly, there is considerable variation even within varieties.

Every year, the variables of soil, weather, planting times, irrigation, and various farming practices yield surprising outcomes in flavor and texture. A farmer who produces a magnificent Pink Brandywine one year may offer a less flavorful one the next; but her Mortgage Lifters the same year might be nonpareil. Based on that tasting, each August we purchase around 3,000 pounds of the best tomatoes from local farmers for this joyful event.