Bringing It Full Circle in Trinity County!
By Dave Feral | Photos by Desiree Coutinho
Many of us can agree, a connection to our land and our food is vital to building a healthy community. This year the folks at Full Circle Farm in Trinity County are offering a chance for you to support the Farm to Table movement with a dinner on August 23rd. I had an opportunity to chat with one of the organizers Desiree Countinho, and learn a little bit more about how the folks at Full Circle Farms in Trinity County are doing it.
Q. “Desiree, can you tell me a little bit about Full Circle Farm. How did you get started, and what do you grow?”
A. “Full Circle Farms is a multi-farm CSA composed of 15 different farmers and food producers from Trinity County and surrounding areas. There is no one farming site yet, however, I hope one day we can find some land for farmers to have a collective grow site.
Almost three years ago, after my daughter was born, I started a very small CSA, selling vegetables from my garden just for my neighbors. We only had 8 members, but I realized how difficult it was to grow the variety of food to make a bountiful share. I decided to talk with other local farmers to create an aggregate CSA that could provide food for more of our community. Some were farmers who came to our local farmer’s market; others were long time gardeners who preferred working in their fields to going to market.
Last year Full Circle Farms CSA was born. Our CSA grew to 30 members, with weekly bags filled with the bounty from local farms and gardens. We also offered free-range chicken eggs, local honey, artisan bread, and flowers. This year we are growing slowly to almost 40 members, and have added a local meat share, quail eggs, and locally grown shiitake mushrooms to our selection of extras.
My partner and I contribute to Full Circle Farms CSA as Laughing Heart Gardens. This year we grew a variety of herbs, some vegetables (peas, radishes, turnips, lettuce, winter-squash), and our main focus, the indoor cultivation of shiitake mushrooms. Alexander, my partner, is farming gourmet mushrooms and is slowly growing a business that will offer medicinal mushroom tinctures, in addition to gourmet mushrooms, and value-added products.”
Q. “I noticed you are offering a three course meal on Saturday, August 23rd. Can you explain what the Farm to Table philosophy is about?”
A. “The Farm to Table philosophy is about people connecting directly to the source of their food. A lot of the food you find in a grocery store comes from halfway around the world. Our culture has made it easy for people not to consider who grew their food, how it was grown, who is profiting from it, and the long journey it made into their shopping cart.
You are making that leap in consciousness when you choose to eat local, fresh, sustainably grown food.
Farm to Table stimulates the local economy. Trinity county has a relatively small population and low income level. I want to see our community grow to be healthier and more prosperous.
I hope with more regular farm to table dinners money can circulate to local farmers, local chefs, as well as local musicians and artists.
Farm to Table also means eating seasonally. For our dinner we are planning a menu based on the bounty of the season. It is not an exact science, more the art of adaptation, as the menu may change at the last minute if all the lettuce bolts or the ground squirrels get the potatoes. Farm to Table means not only are you more connected to the farmers, but also to the rhythm of the earth.”
Q. “How many different farms are providing the produce, meat and other products to for this Dinner the meal?”
A. “Just like our CSA, the dinner will be a collaborative effort of all our farmers and food producers. Produce will come from 5 or 6 of our Full Circle growers, including Albiez Family Farm, Luna Farm, Willow Creek Farms, and Garden Gulch Farm. False Prophet Ranch will be contributing handmade goat chevre and ice cream with local honey. Our feature entrée includes local grass fed New York Strip from Summit Creek Ranch. Local wine from Alpen Cellars, Carini Wine, and Summit Creek will be donated, and all the money from the wine sales goes to benefit the Children’s Garden Project”.
Q. Wow! What a wonderful bounty, who is the chef, what is his or her experience, and how will they prepare the meal?
A. “I will actually be the chef for this dinner (with a little help from my friends). Although if our event is successful and there is interest in the community, I would love to host regular farm to table events and feature other local chefs. A very good friend of mine and talented cook, Dave Bergland, will be manning the grill and helping me with prep work for the dinner.
Years ago, I cooked at The Farmer’s Kitchen, a small restaurant in Davis CA, which was also rooted in the farm to table philosophy. Since then I haven’t had much professional experience in a kitchen, but I do have a passion for bringing people together to enjoy beautiful food. Last year I also planned and cooked for the Children’s Garden Benefit Dinner.
For this event we will be preparing most of the meal on a very large grill outside at the Highland Art Center, where the dinner will be held.”
Q. “This all sounds wonderful! I noticed the sales of libation will benefit The Children’s Garden Project. Can you tell me a bit about that?”
A. “The Children’s Garden Project is a wonderful project that has two garden sites in both Weaverville and Hayfork. Our focus is to teach young children 0-5 fundamentals of gardening, and to give kids a deeper understanding of their environment and where their food comes from. We offer hands on garden activities, crafts, stories, and of course snacks right out of the garden. I have been the project coordinator for the Children’s Garden for the last 5 years, and it is amazing to see how much a pre-schooler can absorb in one season. Kids learn about the life cycle of a plant, garden friends and pests, companion planting, and even about saving seeds. They understand better than most adults the pure joy of growing, harvesting, eating fresh foods.
Our project is struggling, and every year our funding gets cut a little bit more. This year will be very tight, so we are doing everything possible to raise money for supplies and curricula. The wine sales from this event will all benefit the Children’s Garden Project.”
To support Trinity County’s local Farm to Table program and the Children’s Garden Project, get in touch with Desiree and make your reservation today!