We are so pleased to have already sold many of our 2011 Farm Dinners, praised by Sunset Magazine as one of their top three farm dinner choices. We have to thank our magnificent cook, Joe, and his team, whose efforts are superlative. The sound of energetic hand-whipping of a dreamy pumpkin mousse drifted out from the kitchen for several minutes as I watered the garden last week.
We also have to thank my husband. He and sister Kathy are the fourth generation to work in our local family restaurant. My father-in-law governs the restaurant's huge, well-ordered vegetable garden; my husband hadn't gardened seriously until this summer, when his bad back kept him awake at nights. He spent those wakeful, moon-lit nights with our own vegetables, and they blossomed.
The heritage. Pescadero's finest vegetable garden, with rhubarb in the foreground
We have had beans, carrots, beets, squash, lettuces, leafy greens and herbs like never before. The farm kitchen cooks almost every weekend, sometimes for large private parties, and for all our Farm Dinners, but will not run out of just-picked vegetables, raised on the "black gold" of our pasture soil and well-rotted goat manure.
Our farm green beans
I am from Yorkshire, where we have the National Vegetable Society, which advances "the culture, study and improvement of vegetables". We grow monster veg, and compete at horticultural shows for the biggest parsnip in town. My husband grew up with food and vegetable gardening, and it's all about flavor for him. We leave the monster bragging to the pumpkin growers! Check out our Farm Dinner dates, and come and taste our farm vegetables next year.
When we look for staff at Harley Farms, we consider what they bring to our farm community, and to the larger Pescadero community.
Pescadero is a deeply romantic place to live and work, given its scattering of cottages and farms on a saltwater marsh bordered by fertile fields and gentle hills rolling back from the coast. We have a strong community here, not least because so many people who live here are generous and humble, ready to relinquish their time and efforts for the benefit of the community. Adults and young people from all backgrounds see themselves as having a role in supporting the whole community.
I see this clearly at South Coast Children's Services, which works with - not for - local children to provide sports and art, youth employment, and youth involvement across the state. Be it an excursion to a chocolate-making factory, snowboarding, the annual delegation to the YMCA's Model United Nations, or the position of Youth Thrift Shop Manager, local young people have honed their leadership, financial and planning skills in organizing these opportunities.
SCCS is a genuine community-based organization, established in Pescadero in 1977 by community members, with all decisions made by community members. The more community-based organizations we have, the stronger we are as a community. It has been a pleasure and a great strength for me to have been part of SCCS for many years.
Local young people at the 2010 South Coast Children's Services Volunteer Appreciation Dinner
Through SCCS, I learned of the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, whose glorious mission is to "bring joy, simplicity, trust and effectiveness to grant-making." It has been an honor for us at the farm to use one of these grants to support our employees from Hope Services. Hope trains people with developmental disabilities to live and participate in their communities, across the Bay Area. Using our grant, Connie Fortino here at the farm has been able to retrofit a minivan to carry a wheelchair, purchase dental insurance, a hearing aid, and extra clothes and shoes. Immediate "on the ground" support for wider community members.
So, for our staff, it's never just a job. We are a community.
Last Friday night we papered up the barn window and lit the long table runway for the Second Annual Fashion Show for Saviz Boutique. Saviz has a well-cut, understated collection of sophisticated clothes which flattered everyone - she brought some lovely young ladies to model but allowed most of us on the runway too, proving that the clothes suit all ages and sizes. The show ended with Saviz's own military-inspired collection, perfectly on trend and miles from chain store anonymity. It is such a pleasure and honor to be part of a community of local independent businesses like Saviz's.
Everybody looked lovely
The make-up and hair artists were incredible
Clothes were gorgeous
(Thanks to Karolynne Meyer for capturing this moment)
We had an amazing night, with feathery surprises
Saviz has style. Check out her collection at Saviz Boutique, Half Moon Bay
We have begun to stock amazing local honey and could not resist making a chevre drizzled with honey and flecked with lavender from the garden. Athletes from the first Olympic Games refueled on goat cheese and honey; nibble your classically delicious snack at our cheese counter, on your picnic, or as a wonderful last course.
With birthing over, we have the spring in our step to revisit fundamentals on the farm, and our major project this May has been the milking process. The milking goats used to approach the milking parlor using a 90 degree turn, which they disliked. Goats are not at ease when they can't see ahead; despite using the same ramp every day they would have to be encouraged into the parlor by a second person each time. So, we have curved the ramp into the parlor so that the goats can see where they're going.
A clear path into the milking parlor
Now that the goats haven't been chivvied into the milking parlor, they are more relaxed and produce more milk. We move them through in small batches so that they don't push or nip in crowds. It's the same groups of friends each time, and the same ones to dash through first or dally behind. They have the time to finish their food in the parlor, so that we can be sure each goat gets 3lb of grain a day.
If this person with a camera would move, we would be happy to come into the parlor
The goat on her way to the loafing barn, the milk on its way to the dairy
Milking is one of the fundamental jobs on the farm. It takes up to three hours twice a day, including setting up and cleaning the machine. Goats fed and milked peacefully, though, are happy goats, and their milk will be delicious.