On June 18, 2019, Kitchen Table Advisors shared an evening in conversation and community with a room of food advocates, exploring the food beyond our forks. A panel of local food leaders shared about their experiences as farmers, buyers and chefs working in various areas of the food chain, and inspired attendees to consider what it means to be passionate about food. These leaders included: Will Holloway (Blue Leg Farms), Javier Zamora (JSM Organics), Taryn Wolf (Produce Coordinator, Whole Foods Market), Chef Trent Page (Culinary Coordinator, Whole Foods Market).

During our conversation, panelists shared some of the ways we are "radically connected" in our food system, from the farmers who nourish us to the eaters who hold the power to influence the industry.

The evening featured a meal crafted by Chef Trent and the Whole Foods culinary team, featuring seasonal produce from JSM Organics and Blue Leg Farms.


Blue Leg Farms Mixed Greens with JSM Organics Albion Strawberries

Charred and Marinated Blue Leg Farm Zucchini 

Chicken “Laab” with Blue Leg Farms Little Gems  

JSM Organics Berries & Cream

We are filled with so much gratitude for the farmers, panelists and guests for their generosity, thoughtful questions, warm company and interest in exploring food beyond our forks. 

And we are excited to share a taste of that evening with some tips from Chef Trent so you can recreate the meal at home!



Mixed Green Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette


  • Mixed greens

  • Strawberries

  • Shaved fennel

  • State Bird Crunch

  • Walla Walla Spring Onion Vinaigrette (guidelines follow)


Walla Walla Spring Onion Vinaigrette

The sweetness of the onions and strawberries really complement each other and add a lot of depth to a simple vinaigrette.


Spring onions, approx 1 lb.
Olive oil
Strawberries, about a handful
Fresh tarragon
Champagne vinegar
Salt and pepper

  1. Thinly slice spring onions and sweat slowly in olive oil until melted and very tender (about 20 minutes).

  2. Blend onions with strawberries, fresh tarragon, champagne vinegar and olive oil.

  3. Thin with water if necessary and season to taste.



Charred & Marinated Zucchini with Ricotta


Zucchini, or other summer squash
Green tomatoes
Olive oil
White wine vinegar
Ground black pepper
Whole milk
Lemon zest

  1. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise, lightly salt and let sit for a few hours or overnight to extract excess water.

  2. Thinly slice green tomatoes on a mandolin 1/8 inch thick.  Marinate with good olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  Let sit for a couple hours to soften. Strain and reserve tomatoes and liquid separately.

  3. Sear or grill salted zucchini over high heat on one side until charred (if you do both sides, it will likely overcook). Let cool.

  4. Marinate the cooled zucchini in reserved green tomato pickling liquid.

  5. Combine ricotta, whole milk, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender.  Blend to desired consistency until smooth and creamy, like the texture of greek yogurt.

  6. Assemble pickled tomatoes, grilled zucchini and ricotta on a platter. 

  7. Serve with some good crusty bread, or top with toasted hazelnuts or almonds.



Berries & Cream with Jam


  • Fresh berries, such as red raspberries, golden raspberries, blackberries and strawberries

  • Kaffir lime coconut cream (guidelines follow)

  • Ugly strawberry sauce (guidelines follow)

Layer coconut cream and strawberry jam, alternating. Top with berries.

Kaffir Lime Coconut Cream


Coconut milk, canned and refrigerated overnight
Powdered sugar
Kaffir lime leaves

  1. Open the can of coconut milk, taking care not to jostle it. Reserve the cream and liquid separately.

  2. Warm half the coconut water with Kaffir lime leaves over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes.

  3. Strain water and cool completely.  

  4. Whip reserved coconut cream, adding infused coconut water slowly until mixture resembles whipped cream. 


Ugly Strawberry Sauce


Strawberries, extra ripe*

  1. Cook berries down in a pan, smashing if necessary, with a little water.  

  2. Add sugar to taste – you won’t need much since the berries will likely be sweet enough on their own.

  3. Let cool.


*  Use extra ripe berries before they get moldy.  They may not look pretty but they are super sweet.

This event was hosted in partnership with Whole Foods Market, sponsor of this year’s Grazing at the Kitchen Table. Whole Food Market’s support showcases their commitment to supporting our local communities and the importance of supporting local farming. Kitchen Table Advisors was a 2019 Nickels for Non-Profit recipient. Together, Whole Foods customers in Northern California raised over $60,000 to support our work of fueling the economic viability of local farmers and ranchers.

AuthorKitchen Table Advisors

Koy Saichow grew up in a subsistence farming community in Thailand, where every season relatives, friends and neighbors would come together to harvest in her family’s fields. This powerful connection between food and community led her parents San and Muang to open Stony Point Strawberry Farm: a 10 acre organic farm located in beautiful Petaluma, California, specializing in, you guessed it, berries. Koy manages the business side of the farm while San and Muang focus their efforts on their passion: growing some of the best strawberries in Sonoma County.

We hope you will consider making a donation today to Kitchen Table Advisors, and join us in building a sweet future for farms, ranches and the families they sustain.



The sun-drenched fields of Petaluma, California are home to Stony Point Strawberry Farm, a 10 acre organic fruit and vegetable farm run by the Saichow Family, specializing in, you guessed it, strawberries.


San Saichow arrives at the farm early each morning to harvest strawberries and other crops alongside his wife Muang. They share deep roots in agriculture, and a generosity around food that is shaped by their experiences growing up in subsistence farming communities in Thailand. These roots led them to open Stony Point Strawberry Farm in 2011 with the help of their daughter, Koy.


Strawberries, while delicious, are a notoriously delicate crop, and so must each be hand-harvested by farmers throughout California. San and Muang lovingly pick each fruit hours before they deliver product, so they can take pride in their customers receiving berries at their peak.


Koy Saichow manages the business side of the farm so her parents can focus on their passion: growing food for their community. While San and Muang are out harvesting in the fields, Koy joins Kitchen Table Advisors Regional Director Paige Phinney for an advising session to weigh the benefits of desktop vs. online Quickbooks, and to talk "big picture" about her family's financial goals for the farm.


San and Muang load up their van with strawberries in preparation for the day's deliveries. Each week they deliver produce to local food hub FEED Sonoma (which then make their way to restaurants and stores like Oliver's Markets), Clif Family Winery and Acre Coffee. On the weekends, Koy stops by the farm to pick up the freshly harvested berries she sells at farmers' markets in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. The organic certification they received in 2018 opened up new market channels for their product as the demand for local organic products in Sonoma County continues to grow.


After a morning of harvesting, San heads to the Stony Point farm stand. While Stony Point's various market channels have significant impacts on the business and enable the Saichow family to feed a larger community, the farm stand holds a special place in their hearts: an opportunity to be in community with their customers on the farm, where folks can taste the strawberries just a couple hours after being picked (or pick one right off the plants for themselves!).


San stocks the farm stand at Stony Point with freshly-harvested strawberries. In Thailand, neighbors, family and friends regularly jumped in to help him and Muang cultivate their vegetable and rice fields. In turn, they shared the bounty with their community. The couple started the farm nearly a decade ago as a "retirement plan," a way for them to spend their golden years going back to their cherished origins: growing food and feeding people.


While strawberries were not part of his family's crop mix, or diet, in Thailand, San developed a passion for the fruit when he purchased a strawberry farm business from a friend in 2006. He had worked in landscaping after immigrating with his family in 1989, and after years in that industry craved a return to agriculture. Since taking over that first strawberry farm, San has dedicated himself to improving the quality and flavor of their berries, year after year, motivated by this mantra: "Pick one thing and do it the best. Feed people the best version of whatever that thing is."


Pollinators are also fans of Stony Point strawberries. The Saichow family works to nurture the whole ecosystem their farm is part of, to build an operation that not only nourishes the people who eat their berries, but also the land and animals that play a critical role in their quest to produce the best berries.


Koy prepares lunch on the farm for her parents and business advisor. For the Saichow family, food has always been synonymous with community and self-sufficiency. After immigrating to the Bay Area from Thailand, San and Muang were not able to farm as extensively as they had back home. Yet they always rented houses with backyards so they could continue to grow food -- mainly Thai chiles and Southeast Asian vegetables -- for their family, friends and neighbors.


Koy and Regional Director Paige Phinney wrap up an advising session with a meal. While Kitchen Table Advisors' one-on-one advising focuses on business and financial management, our goal is to support farmers and ranchers as whole people. That means following up a session about Quickbooks with noodle soup and a conversation about the unicorn-themed birthday party Koy is planning for her daughter.


All around us, we can see — and taste — the bounty of strawberry season. Thank you for following along and getting to know Koy, San and Muang, the family that makes this abundance possible.


Donate today to continue building a food community where family farms can thrive.


Photos by: Nicola Parisi

Please join us in welcoming the newest farmers and ranchers to join the Kitchen Table Advisors family. We are thrilled to support their business on the road to economic viability, and these individuals on their journey as our food system’s leaders.

  • Anna Torres, Anna's Organic Farm | Chowchilla

  • Victor Manuel Martínez, Buena Vista Organics | Watsonville

  • Misael Morales, Chelito Farm | Watsonville

  • Lorraine Walker & Cameron Ottens, Eatwell Farm | Dixon

  • Jonathan Nuñez, Esquivel Farm | Gilroy

  • Rudy Jiménez, Green Thumb Organics | Salinas

  • Anna Erickson, Hands Full Farm | Valley Ford

  • Jesus Calzadillas, Los Pinos Organic | Watsonville

  • Sara Evett  & Sandi Garcia, McGinnis Ranch | Watsonville

  • Maria Ana Reyes, Narci Organic Farm | Salinas

  • David Robles, Robles Transplant | Watsonville

  • Luis Silva, Silva Organic Farm | Watsonville

  • Carine & Robert Hines, Sun Tracker Farm | Guinda

  • Gladys Mondragon, Sunshine Organics | Watsonville

P.S. Kitchen Table Advisors now supports a total of 64 farms and ranches throughout Northern California. Learn more about our active clients here.

AuthorKitchen Table Advisors

Olivia Maki and Mikie Reis opened Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop with the goal of connecting people to not only great-tasting cider, but to the history and sense of place behind each bottle. Redfield itself is named for a stunning apple variety that was born on US soil and was very nearly forgotten. It makes a boldly-flavored but elegantly balanced cider unlike the mass-produced products you’ll find at the supermarket or liquor store, that exemplifies the products sold at Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop.

Prior to opening Redfield, Olivia was a superstar champion and volunteer here at Kitchen Table Advisors. In addition to managing our PR and social media strategies, she often contributed recipes from her blog, the Coast Kitchen. We’re excited for her to lend her knack for delicious food and cider expertise with this recipe.

Let’s raise a glass to Olivia and Mike, and all the entrepreneurs committed to building community around food and agriculture!


Perfect with on a cheese plate and delicious as a condiment in a salami sandwich, this olive tapenade is really easy to make. I use my favorite type of olives for this, Castelvetrano, which are buttery in flavor and have a firmer texture than the typical Kalamata black olive. I leave this tapenade on the chunkier side, but if you're going for a smoother texture, feel free to blend longer or add more olive oil to the mixture.

Garlicky Green Olive Tapenade


  • 1.5 cups pitted olives

  • 2 cloves garlic (medium in size or three small)

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (if you have a nicer finishing olive oil, this would be a good time to use it)

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flake

  • Small handful of fresh mint (about 1/4 cup)

  • Small handful of fresh parsley (about 1/4 cup)

This is really as simple as combining the ingredients in a food processor and blending until you reach the desired consistency. I would recommend roughly chopping the garlic and herbs before hand. Enjoy right away or if you make ahead of time, be sure to bring it to room temp before serving so the oil can melt back to a liquid state if it hardens in the fridge.

Cider Pairing

Olivia and Mike suggest a Spanish cider from Basque or Asturias. Ciders from these regions are typically funky, have low carbonation and are very food-friendly. Right now they're really into the Trabanco Cosecha Propia. This sidra is made with only estate grown, native Asturian apple varieties. It is classic example of a sidra natura that the have at Redfield and would be a delicious pairing!

Redfield is a cider-focused bar, bottle shop, and eatery located at 5815 College Avenue in beautiful Oakland, California. Their mission is to provide a welcoming, lively, and fun environment for our customers to experience all that cider has to offer. Learn more at www.redfieldcider.com

AuthorLiv Maki

Kristin Hull, Founder, CEO & CIO of Nia Impact Capital, is putting feminism into our finances.

Motivated by a deep sense of social justice, Kristin Hull is helping changemakers connect the dots between investment practices and the world we want to see, from gender equity to sustainable food to climate consciousness. And as a member of the Host Committee for this year’s Grazing at the Kitchen Table, we are honored to highlight her work through this year’s theme of celebrating the women changing our food system.

KH Headshot 3.jpg

Growing up in Oakland, Kristin Hull discovered an innate sense of justice: who got to sit where on the bus; who had first pick of the picture books or reading activities. So it was a natural transition when she began her career as a classroom teacher, viewing education as a starting point to create change in her community. In 2007, after years spent observing the gap in financial literacy within the American education system, and society as a whole, she realized there was an untapped opportunity for impact in another way: through teaching individuals how to connect the dots between their investment practices and the world they want to see.

Within her world of fellow activists, Kristin saw many of her peers spending their careers fighting against the societal status quo, and yet when it came to their finances they either lacked the awareness, knowledge or confidence to veer from the norm. Very few existing companies were offering alternative solutions, let alone providing education to their clients. Enter Nia Community Investments, which Kristin launched in 2010 and is today Nia Impact Capital. The company takes a completely innovative approach to what they call “conscious investing,” looking to disrupt the industry on all levels. Kristin describes this approach as “being aware of where our money is… We jump into a life engaged in finance but are not aware of its implications. If your money isn’t at home in dollars bills, where is it? Does it sit in a bank, or does it get loaned out to terrible pipeline projects that we spend our days fighting.” In short, you can choose the companies that you invest in, and they can be aligned with your vision of the world.

Nia Impact Capital focuses their investment portfolio on six key themes that align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and are necessary for both people and planet, including “natural and organic foods” and “sustainable planet.” Kristin shared that it felt important-- both personally and to the company-- to include both because we are at a critical point in time. As populations (& climate crises) rise, people will still need to eat and be healthy, so how do we do so in a way that also regenerates the earth and soil.

Woven throughout this work is an emphasis on gender equity that she refers to as “putting feminism into finances.” Within the company, it’s embedded from top to bottom (Nia is women owned and led) and through programs such as the Impactful Women Series, a networking and education event for women who want to be in the impact investment space and the Changing the Face of Finance internship for high school girls and college-aged young women. Recently, Nia was the first ever recipient of the GEN Certification, a new data-driven standard for assessing how U.S. businesses show up for gender equity. The process was similar to that which Nia undergoes with their portfolio companies, assessing how their practices and processes support gender equality. And given Kristin’s passion for the movement, the results were not at all surprising. “Turns out we were doing almost everything right, but we also learned the research about why it’s important.”

Kristin applies the same lense to Nia’s portfolio. “Instead of starting at the top, we start with whether the core products and services are beneficial to women and girls, and then take a look at their practices and how many women are on the board or within leadership.” Take online marketplace powerhouse Etsy, which offers its sellers (89% of whom are women) entrepreneurship training around how to merchandise and market their products, and just so happens to steal part of the market share from less socially-conscious companies like Amazon.

When it comes to their clients, Nia Impact Capital continues to encourage an awareness of how their portfolios align with their own values around feminism. For example, if you’re following the #MeToo movement, attending the Women’s March, you should extend that consciousness to where your money lies. Are you investing in companies that don’t have women in leadership, or are harmful towards women’s rights in other ways?

Another of Kristin’s goals around gender equity is to train the next generation of women to feel empowered around their finances and career choices. On her blog, The Money Doula, Kristin offers tips around talking to advisors about their options, the merits of choosing female advisors and how to bring Nia’s investment philosophy into one’s personal finances. When asked what professional advice she would give young women similarly interested in social change, she shared: “the world is changing. Before there would be a specific sector to go into, and yet maybe because the planet is heating up, or the rise of the #MeToo movement, or increased awareness in racial justice, we each need  to bring our passion into wherever we work. Choose a place where you can bring your full self. Be strong about saying no to the status quo.” And because change is what our planet needs right now, Kristin assures that your career will reward you for it.

What is Kristin most excited in regards to the upcoming Grazing at the Kitchen Table? “I am excited about this event, getting the word out about why Kitchen Table Advisors’ work is so important right now. To meet women chefs and farmers doing awesome work, and being able to celebrate them, feels exciting.”

To learn more about Nia Impact Capital’s innovative approaching to investing, or read Kristin’s tips on how to bring feminism into your finances, visit www.niaimpactcapital.com

Grazing at the Kitchen Table takes place from 6:30pm to 9pm on Thursday, October 4, 2018 at Dogpatch WineWorks in San Francisco. Follow #GrazeAndGive2018 for updates. 

Photos courtesy of Nia Impact Capital.

Dede Boies began her career in agriculture because of a fierce love of animals, and a belief that animals deserve to live their best lives in return for nourishing us as food. Now she runs Root Down Farm, a farm located on 62-acres in beautiful, coastal Pescadero that raises pastured pigs and poultry with a focus on holistic practices that promote the health of both animal and soil. In honor of Mother’s Day, we are celebrating new mom Dede, and her vision for a world in which baby Eddy and you, her community, connect with the animals you eat. A world in which animals live happy and healthy lives.

We hope you will consider making a donation today to Kitchen Table Advisors, and join us in fueling not only the the farms and ranches in our program, but the families they sustain.



Dawn breaks over Root Down Farm, a 62 acre slice of agricultural heaven in Pescadero, the heart of California's Central Coast. Owner Dede Boies leases from Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), an organization that protects and cares for open space, farms and parkland in and around Silicon Valley.


Dede Boies wakes early to begin the work of caring for her animals. She started the farm five years ago with the goal of raising the healthiest animals possible, while working within her ecosystem to responsibly steward the land and improve soil health.


Dede squeezes in a cuddle with farm dog Oaty before putting on her boots and heading out onto the farm. Her love of animals shapes Root Down Farm's mission to invest in the health and happiness of her flocks.


Root Down Farm's chickens, ducks, turkeys and pigs spend their days running and rooting around the farm, feasting on bugs, grubs & grass. Their diets are supplemented with organic vegetables, apples and non-GMO grain each morning.


Root Down Farm's sow, Betty, eagerly eats a breakfast of grains, after having given birth to piglets just one week before. Root Down Farm is bursting with new life this spring, including Dede's own newborn daughter, Eddy.


Dede has often heard that meat eaters couldn't possibly love animals. The way she sees it, though, is that her work honors her animals' lives and their nourishment of families like her own. "They live the best life possible before we get to eat them."


Root Down Farm grows and markets their own Delaware (heritage) and Red Ranger (hybrid) chickens, "old" breeds of poultry that grow at slow, healthy rates, reproduce naturally, thrive being active outside and, as a result, have better flavor.


Everyday is an adventure with a newborn. Dede and her wife Melissa are constantly learning how to balance farm demands with a growing family. They make a schedule each day with the knowledge that it's a constant evolution.


After taking care of farm tasks, Dede takes three-month old Eddy for a walk around the property to give Melissa a break from baby duty. She is thrilled to raise a child in this environment: surrounded by nature, eventually playing with the animals and (hopefully) getting dirty.


Another benefit of raising a child on a farm, and within a community passionate about food: Eddy will grow up eating very well.


Dede dedicates her life to raising animals that nourish other families. Now that she has her own child, eaters that invest in her small farm can in turn support Dede and Melissa in nourishing Eddy with good food.


Melissa bounces Eddy while Dede takes an order. While Melissa isn't directly involved in Root Down Farm, she is Dede's biggest champion and supporter.


Being a sole business owner can often be isolating, and sometimes it helps to have a thought partner outside the family. Another source of support is Kitchen Table Advisors. As Dede holds a sleeping Eddy, she and Farm Business Advisor Sarah Gearen review Root Down Farm's growth over the last year.


"We are respected, valued and supported by our greater community." Post-Its scrawled with Root down farm's values are a source of daily inspiration. Over the last couple years, Dede has learned to identify core values and where ideals need to be evaluated to support running a sustainable business.


After a long day of farm work, caring for a newborn and managing the operations of a small business, Dede, Melissa and Dede's father, Ed, relax in their living room for some cherished time with Eddy.


Donate today to continue building a food community where family farms can thrive.




David Mancera grew up in a farmworking family in Chualar, located in the heart of California’s Salinas Valley. Like many others across California’s agricultural system, his parents migrated to the U.S. as farmworkers from their native Guanajuato.

Beginning at the age of eight, David began to support his family in the fields. Weekends, vacations, daylight hours after school were dedicated to supporting the family’s income. While it was backbreaking work, and at the time not how he was excited to spend his childhood free time, David reflects on how the work brought the family together. 

“In the fields, when someone was tired and fell behind, someone else would be there to pick up the slack. It made us work together as a family, as a unit… and it taught me the value of hardwork, responsibility, teamwork, generosity, and helping others.”

It wasn’t until he reached high school that he began to consider a future career in agriculture. David began in agricultural marketing, and eventually moved into an operations, then finance, focus. However, he craved a more direct connection to individual growers, and an opportunity to impact families like his own. While working for Driscoll’s, David was immersed in production data, aggregated from their growers to share with management and board members. He was curious about what this information looked like to the individual growers. He knew that while Driscoll’s might be making money, the farmers might still be struggling. The data was detached from their reality.

Photo credit: Sarah Trent

Photo credit: Sarah Trent

In 2015, David Mancera joined Kitchen Table Advisors as the organization’s first official Farm Business Advisor. He focused on serving farm and ranch clients throughout the Central Coast, including those based around the community where he grew up and continues to raise his own family and many of whom share a journey into agriculture that mirrors his parents’. Farmers like Javier Zamora, owner of JSM Organics, who David supported through the purchase, and ongoing growth, of a 195 acre property in Aromas, CA. 

“David Mancera has been like an older brother for me because I can give him a call about issues that I'm having financially and how am I going to be able to overcome certain aspects of the farming operation. [He] has helped me understand that when it comes to winter, you’ve got to make sure you prepare yourself when there is a lot of money coming in during summertime and fall. Not only has it helped me to stay afloat during wintertime, but also has helped me purchase land.”
-Javier Zamora, JSM Organics

David’s Impact, by the Numbers

Through working with Kitchen Table Advisors, and consulting with additional small farms (which he happened to squeeze in between his three sons’ extracurricular activities, family functions, taking on the role of president at a local youth soccer-focused non-profit, soccer coaching), David was able to leverage his experience to support farmers and ranchers that dedicate their lives to feeding their community. And who, with the right access to resources, can make a living and in turn support their families. At the same time, he learned from the farmers’ resiliency and resourcefulness. “Farmers speak to the basic human element of survival: despite odds, a lack of resources, they keep working and make it work. It’s a reminder to keep at it.”

AuthorKitchen Table Advisors
CategoriesTeam Updates

A recipe inspired by our ramen-focused Taste of Spring, using product from Ground Stew Organics, these ramen jars are great for lunch on the go, or a quick week night dinner. 


Ramen in a Jar

Makes 6 jars


  • Shoyu concentrate

  • Ramen noodles

  • Blanched chard & kale

  • Shaved carrots

  • English peas

  • Spicy braised radishes

  • Green sriracha


Ramen Components

Shoyu Concentrate: 

½ lb. kombu
100 grams bonito flakes
1 bunch scallions
6 quarts cold water
¾ cup tamari
¼ cup mirin

  1. Bring the kombu, bonito flakes, scallions and water to a boil for 2 hours.

  2. Strain and return to heat. Reduce to 1/2 quart.

  3. Cool, then add mirin and tamari.

Ramen Noodles:

2 lbs. ramen noodles, dried
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup oil

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt until it tastes like ocean water.

  2. As water comes to a boil, prepare an ice bath in a bowl or large plastic container.

  3. Place separated noodles in a blanching basket.

  4. Once the water starts to boil, place basket in the pot.

  5. Cook for 1.5 minutes, stir constantly, use timer.

  6. When the timer goes off, take the basket out and place in ice water.

  7. Stir noodles until completely cooled.

  8. Remove basket from water and drain noodles well. Reserve liquid for greens.

  9. In a separate bowl add the noodles, oil and sugar/salt mixture and toss well.

  10. Store in fridge until ready to build jars.


2 bunches kale
2 bunches chard
Olive oil, salt & pepper

  1. Wash kale and chard leaves by submerging them in water. Drain well.

  2. Prepare ice bath.

  3. Remove stems from kale and chard.

  4. Fold leaves in half, and cut into ⅛” chiffonade

  5. In the same pot used for noodles, blanch greens for 30 seconds and immediately shock in ice bath. Pat dry.

  6. Season lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper.

  7. Store in fridge until ready to build jars.

Baby Carrots:

1 bunch baby carrots

  1. Wash baby carrots well, scrubbing to remove dirt.

  2. Shave with a peeler to create long ribbons.

  3. Sh ock in ice water and hold until ready to build jars.

English Peas:

1 lbs. English peas

  1. Remove peas from pods.

  2. Blanch in salted boiling water 1-2 minutes or until slightly soft.

  3. Shock in ice bath immediately.

  4. Season lightly with salt.

  5. Store in fridge until ready to build jars.

Spicy Braised Radishes:

5 red radishes
1 lb butter
4 chiles de arból, dried
4 fl. ounces water
2 teaspoons salt

  1. Wash radishes very thoroughly, scrubbing to remove all dirt.

  2. Cut radishes in quarters lengthwise.

  3. Melt butter in a nonstick sautee pan over high heat.

  4. Once butter is melted, add in dried chile de arból and continue cooking until butter starts to brown.

  5. Once butter is light golden brown add in radishes and water. Cook until the radishes are soft and the water is reduced enough that it glazes the radishes. Remove chiles.

Green Sriracha:

5 jalapeños, fresh
3 fresno chili peppers, fresh
4 chile serranos, fresh
4 fl. ounces lime juice
6 cloves garlic
3 shallots
2 bunches cilantro
1 tablespoon salt

  1. Rough chop all ingredients and place in food processor.

  2. Process until a smooth paste is formed.


Putting it all together

Concentrate – 3 ounces
Noodles – 4 to 5 ounces
Chard/kale – 2 ounces
Shaved carrots – 8 to 12 pieces
English peas – 5 to 8 pieces
Spicy braised radishes – 2 pieces
Sriracha – 1 tablespoon


Seal tightly with lid and keep stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Good for up to 5 days.
To serve, boil 8 ounces of water and add to jar. Stir & enjoy!

This recipe was created by a local food service partner that is working with us to connect their eaters to local small farms and ranches, in tandem with Kitchen Table Advisors' annual Taste of Spring series. 

AuthorKitchen Table Advisors

By Nicole Mason, Kitchen Cabinet member


We have so much to celebrate in 2018- not just in what the organization has accomplished in five years, but by how the organization has grown, and strengthened and flexed.  I’ve decided to share a few words in the form of a recipe-- in part because we’re all here bound together by farming and therefore food, in part because Kitchen Table Advisors is still something we are adding to, changing, seasoning, and transforming, much like a shared meal.



Serves an entire community of farmers, volunteers, business owners, funders, leaders, and families.


First, set the dial to 2013.  


Next, bring Anthony, Pei-Yee, and Paige into the mix.  Combine with a heaping cup of humility, drive, vision, and hard work.  Make sure there is no central office and that work-life balance is at the center of everything.

Mix in to the organization’s culture: a love for food, games, entrepreneurship, and a true passion for elevating farmers and ranchers.  Foster inclusion, support, and trust.  Push against organizational hierarchy, support shared leadership and a common vision.

Infuse with the wisdom and guidance of a zillion leaders, role models, elders, mentors, and teachers. Sprinkle with the foresight of individuals whose influential roles have transcended the institutions in which they’ve worked like Tony Moraga, Sallie Calhoun, Esther Park, Cynthia Wong, Michael Roberts, and many, many, many others.  

Whisk together good ideas, early funding, true collaboration and thoughtfulness.  Look to organizations like California FarmLink, ALBA, CUESA, RSF Social Finance and others, and learn from them. Get businesses on your side like Coke Farm, FEED Sonoma, Veritable Vegetable, Bi-Rite , Straus Family Creamery, and Clif Bar.  
Add dashes and pinches of ideas from other shoulders on which you stand: Swanton Berry Farm, Morris Grassfed, The Perennial, CalCan, MALT, and the Farmer Justice Collaborative.  

Finally, blend in financial assistance from funders and supporters, like New Priorities Foundation, Bank of the West , the 11th Hour Project, and Gaia Fund.  Don’t forget the individuals (many of whom are here today) that made meaningful gifts to KTA through the years.  

Reduce the mission to a clear, digestible statement: to support the economic viability of farmers and ranchers. 

Form your one on one business advising program.  Scramble together with your first cohort of farmers.  

Turn up the heat. 




After 2 years, bring on David Mancera, and then Thomas Nelson as farm business advisors.  Expand your programs to include more farmers.  

Add tablespoons of hard work, pounds of networking, and gallons of hustle.  Keep stirring the pot.  

Turn the dial to 2017.  




Add Daniella Sawaya to engage community through powerful storytelling, and then fold in Sarah Gearen and Deb Nares as farm business advisors, and Noelle Fogg-Elibol, to nurture our growing community of partners.  Let them marinate.  

Let the organization rest in knowing that each cycle of growth brought the right people with the right skills, talents and experience to build a better, stronger organization.  

Shape your board, pepper them with questions and strategic implementation, let them rise.  

Mound in the center the knowledge that you successfully completed your pilot, and are able to see the tangible benefit of your work in the lives of your clients.

Add yet another cohort of farmers, bringing your services to 50 clients.  

Finish at 2018.




Layer with a strong theory of change, even more of a focus on diversity and inclusion, and an ever-strengthening values proposition.

Place the organization in a broader context, draw your community together, deepen your relationships.  

Bake for 5 years with a few core concepts:

  • Always have a north star, one that says farmers & ranchers are thriving leaders of a vibrant, community-based economy rooted in equitable distribution of power & resources.
  • Treat people fairly, support your community and let them support you.
  • Focus on getting good at what you are trying to achieve, stay nimble.  
  • Value the uniqueness of everyone and embrace the racial, gender, socioeconomic and cultural diversity of the local food system. Maintain a sense of humor, remain thankful.
  • Celebrate successes.
  • Invite two alumni farmer clients to join your board.  Relish the cyclical nature of giving and giving back.

Chill enough to take the time to celebrate.  Serve to your community on a farm on a sunny day in February with a side of good food and ice cream sandwiches.  

Enjoy with friends, colleagues, strangers, and family.


Happy Birthday Kitchen Table Advisors!  



This recipe was presented by Kitchen Cabinet member, Nicole Mason, during Kitchen Table Advisors' 5th Anniversary Celebration at Green Valley Farm + Mill. It is shared here alongside photos courtesy of Sarah Trent. 

AuthorKitchen Table Advisors

As we reflect on Kitchen Table Advisors’ 5-year anniversary this January 2018, we have been inspired to appreciate and give respect to the people, businesses and organizations that we stand on the shoulders of in fueling the economic viability of sustainable small farms and ranches. 

Our piece of the puzzle - helping a diversity of farmers and ranchers more equitably access the business tools, resources and support they need - builds on the hard work and legacy of hundreds before us. Our work would not be meaningful without the struggles and achievements of pioneering farmers and ranchers, organic produce distributors, natural food grocery stores, chefs and restaurants honoring farmers, farmers markets, farm incubators, technical assistance providers, policy and advocacy groups, philanthropists and foundations, and more. Our focus on the economic viability of the next generation of sustainable farmers and ranchers only matters in the greater context of a healthy ecosystem that supports land, markets, financing, regulations and ecological farming practices for farmers and ranchers.

Since our inception, Kitchen Table Advisors’ work has drawn inspiration, knowledge, talent and resources shared by many leaders in the sustainable food and agriculture movement. We wouldn’t be here if we had not had the privilege of connecting with, learning from, and forming formal or informal collaborations with the following: 

  • Organic family farming and sustainable ranching pioneers like Full Belly Farm, Swanton Berry Farm, Straus Family Creamery, Joe and Julie Morris of Morris Grassfed
  • Organic produce distributors like Veritable Vegetable, and regional food hubs like Coke Farm, Capay Valley Farm Shop and FEED Sonoma
  • Natural food grocery stores like Bi-Rite Market and Good Earth
  • Farm to table chefs and restauranteurs such as Jesse Cool at Flea St. Cafe, Karen Heisler at Mission Pie, Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz at The Perennial
  • Farm incubators and training grounds for beginning farmers like ALBA and CASFS at UC Santa Cruz
  • Regional sustainable food and ag technical assistance providers, convening groups, and policy groups like CalCAN, CAFF, CCOF, EcoFarm, Farms To Grow, Farmer Justice Collaborative, Cooperative Extension, Marin Organic
  • Nonprofits that run farmers markets like CUESA and the Ecology Center
  • Farmer-focused lenders such as California FarmLink, Farm Service Agency, and Farm Credit, Slow Money
  • Land trusts preserving agricultural land such as MALT and POST
  • Conservation and regenerative agriculture focused groups like Carbon Cycle Institute and local RCDs
  • Farms and ranches whose land-based programs influence and shape the field of regenerative and sustainable agriculture, such as Pie Ranch, TomKat Ranch, and Paicines Ranch
  • Individuals whose influential roles in the space have transcended the institutions in which they’ve worked, such as Esther Park, Poppy Davis, Tony Serrano, and Bill Fujimoto
  • Sustainable food and ag nonprofits in other parts of the country that have influenced who we are, such as Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation, Coastal Enterprises, New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, Vermont Farm Viability Program, Holistic Management International
  • Local economic development nonprofit leaders in other sectors, such as La Cocina, Inner City Advisors, El Pajaro CDC, and Opportunity Fund
  • Values-aligned funders such as Sallie Calhoun, Heather Blackie, Gaia Fund, 11th Hour Project, RSF Social Finance and more

Kitchen Table Advisors was originally conceived to build upon the important work that many before us have done for decades; to add another piece of the puzzle that complemented the work of others; to join the fight and hopefully make our regional sustainable food and ag ecosystem. 

As we reflect on our ecosystem and a bigger picture collective vision for a more equitable, resilient and healthy regional food economy, we are so grateful to know that we are all in this fight together, and that we all have an important role to play, individually and as part of the collective. 

We know there are many challenges ahead of us - including racial equity and representation in the movement, the need for stronger pipelines of talent into the field, the need for additional financial resources to do the work.

And, we are so grateful for the work done before us; for the shoulders that Kitchen Table Advisors stands upon; for your partnership in this journey; for the opportunity to join this fight 5 years ago and to continue pooling our people, financial and social capital for the collective fight for years to come. 


Photo by Jonathan Fong

A recipe highlighting winter citrus, created by our client Doniga Markegard of Markegard Family Grass Fed.


Citrus-Brined Roast Chicken on Mixed Greens

For the Brine: 
1 cup sea salt flakes
¼ cup maple syrup
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 bunch each rosemary & thyme
2 oranges
2 lemons
1½ garlic heads, halved horizontally
4-5# whole chicken (bonus if it's a Markegard chicken)

For the Salad:
Large bag of mixed greens
2 avocados
1 orange

  • Stir salt, sugar, vinegar, half the rosemary and thyme and 1 quart water in a saucepan over medium heat to dissolve salt and maple syrup. Halve oranges and 1 lemon and squeeze juice into pan, then add the squeezed fruit with the garlic and bring to a simmer. Transfer to a container large enough to fit chicken, add cold water and refrigerate until chilled.
  • Add chicken to brine, weight with a plate to submerge completely, then cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
  • Pat chicken dry with paper towels and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes
  • Rub entire bird and the cavity with remaining herbs and insert half a lemon into cavity. Squeeze the other half on top of the chicken
  • Place bird breast side up in shallow roasting pan and add 2 tablespoons water to pan.
  • Roast for 1-2 hours or until the juices run clear and chickens internal temperature is 160-165 degrees.
  • Let chicken cool and shred
  • Place shredded cooled chicken on a big bed of mixed greens and slice up some avocado and oranges to sprinkle on top. Serve with a simple olive oil dressing.
  • Save the chicken carcasses for stock and pick up a pack of Markegard chicken feet to add to the simmering stock


Recipe by: Doniga Markegard, Markegard Family Grass Fed

Photo by: Jonathan Fong

AuthorKitchen Table Advisors

In 2017, you purchased 215 acres of land, creating an asset for your business and the potential to increase revenue by 30%. You began selling at CUESA’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, generating thousands of dollars in additional sales per week. You accessed your first business loan, which allowed you to purchase equipment and increase the operational efficiency of your business. All while surviving one of the most difficult growing seasons the Bay Area has seen of late.

Perhaps none of this sounds familiar to you. That’s because these are just a few of the many accomplishments Kitchen Table Advisors clients were able to achieve this year with your support.

Your food system, our food system, needs small farmers and ranchers like those we work with to steward the land, to make the industry more inclusive, to feed your family. And they deserve an opportunity to be those changemakers and entrepreneurs. You can give them that opportunity.

Your Role

There are so many ways that your donations support our clients, but we’ve distilled your impact into three areas:

Your Impact

This winter, we asked you to join us in building a more inclusive food system and you pulled through. Collectively, we raised $30,000 from 50 donors, over half of whom have supported Kitchen Table Advisors in the past. Mamma Chia generously contributed $10,000 in matched donations, enabling you to double your impact and Kitchen Table Advisors to surpass our goal of $20,000. 

To read about your impact throughout 2017, please check out our 2017 Impact Report.


Thank you for your role in fueling the next generation of sustainable small farms and ranches, and for growing change with Kitchen Table Advisors.



AuthorKitchen Table Advisors

"I think there's always been a fire in my soul, since I was little." Javier Zamora, owner of JSM Organics, found his passion for agriculture and community at an early age. Raised in a farming family, he learned the art of nurturing life from soil and the joy in feeding people. In the years since starting JSM Organics, Javier has grown his dream of feeding his family well, into a business that provides good food for hundreds more throughout the Bay, all while supporting the dreams of others like him.

It should be no surprise, then, that Javier is our featured speaker at this year's Grazing at the Kitchen Table.

Please enjoy this introduction to Javier's story, and we hope that you will join us on October 5th to experience his "fire" firsthand.

Film credit: Jayson Carpenter & Anaïs Radonich Galvin

AuthorKitchen Table Advisors

The Markegards are a multi-generational ranching family pioneering regenerative practices and the force behind Markegard Family Grass-Fed. The Markegards steward over 8000 acres of land across the Bay Area, including the breathtaking ranch where they live in Pescadero, CA. Doniga and Erik, and their children, Leah, Larry, Quince and Quill raise healthy livestock and steward the land so our own families can eat well and future generations can live in a healthier world.


Photos and narrative by: Jonathan Fong

The (secret) journey of a head of lettuce
You’re seated at your favorite neighborhood restaurant, getting ready to dig into a crisp summer salad. You can just picture how, earlier that day, a grinning, overall-clad farmer—let’s call her Maria—picked that perfectly curly head of lettuce, placed it gently in a handwoven basket, walked over to her red pickup truck, and headed to the city to hand it over, still glistening with morning dew, to Chef John.
Well… let’s pause there for a second. The reality is that many of us who didn’t grow up on a production farm have a deeply romanticized vision of farming. That’s not to say that farming isn’t beautiful or that feeding people isn’t romantic; but it also requires extended, often monotonous labor and generates quantities of fresh produce that, as individual eaters, we cannot quite comprehend.
When Maria harvests several pallets worth of lettuce in a day—and still has to tend to the other 20 crops on her farm, repair the shed, and balance her books—she cannot possibly deliver that lettuce a few pounds at a time to thirty restaurants. And on the flip side, a chef who is scrambling to prep for the dinner service cannot afford to visit a separate farm for each ingredient on his menu. 

So how does that lettuce make it to Chef John’s kitchen, and why does its journey matter?

Food distributors: master choreographers
To answer that question, I visited Veritable Vegetable, also known as VV, a San Francisco-based distributor of fresh organic produce that has been in operation since 1974. (Yes, that’s more than four decades!)
Every single day, the staff of Veritable Vegetable - some 135 people in total - put on a flawlessly choreographed performance to get that lettuce from the farm to your plate. That performance involves 65,000 feet of warehouse space in SF’s Dogpatch neighborhood, a green fleet of 30 trucks, an extensive pricing list, banana boxes stacked like Jenga, and innumerable customer calls.

It’s a performance you may never hear about: food distributors like Veritable Vegetable work behind the scenes to aggregate, transport, store, and then redistribute produce to smaller buyers, such as restaurants, food cooperatives and independent grocery stores.
But even though they are out of sight, food distributors are absolutely indispensable to the health of our food system. In the words of Veritable Vegetable’s CEO, Mary Jane Evans, “Food distributors are like the gear in the middle that makes the wheels move in the same direction.” And according to a 2015 USDA survey, along with institutions such as schools and hospitals, distributors are responsible for as much as 39% of the direct farm sales of food nationwide. [1]

Just ask Krystin Rubin, co-owner of San Francisco’s Mission Pie and a VV customer for more than ten years: “Farmers’ markets are sexy, but honestly, if I need to buy 400 pounds of peaches, I'm not going to buy them at the farmers’ market. I don't have a big enough hand truck.” She adds, “We continue to feel like, ‘Wow! What a resource to our business this is.’ We couldn’t do what we do without them.”
Veritable Vegetable: a food hub on a mission
Given their role as intermediaries, food distributors can have a big impact on their surrounding foodshed. For instance, they can decide whether to pick up from remote locations, what the minimum quantity is that they will purchase, and what kind of certification they require. Decisions like these can impact whether or not a farmer has a profitable season through greater access to markets.
Thankfully, the produce that passes through Veritable Vegetable is in good hands. Initially operating under the tagline, “Food for people, not for profit,” Veritable Vegetable was the first organic wholesaler in the nation. At a time when the National Organic Program didn’t even exist, VV’s founders were visiting farms to understand how the produce was grown and make sure the shed wasn’t full of chemicals. This is important, because while many of us associate organic with ‘sustainable’ or ‘good for the planet’, certification is also associated with higher farm profitability. [2] VV also educated farmers about food distribution to ensure that they were preserving the quality of their produce by picking at the right time and using the right packaging, for example. 
Today, the company remains values-driven: it is a certified B-corp, is women-owned, diverts 99% of its waste from landfill, has invested in a zero-emissions truck fleet, strives to pay workers a fair wage, and so much more. To ensure that it can continue to do things right, Veritable Vegetable works hard to remain independent by virtue of a diverse client base, in which no single customer accounts for more than 5% of business.
Perhaps most importantly to the Kitchen Table Advisors audience, Veritable Vegetable continues to be deeply invested in the well-being of farmers. Christine Coke of Coke Farm, a Veritable Vegetable vendor since the 1980s, describes the distributor as “very supportive of growers”. Staff works with growers on crop planning for the following year to ensure that they are growing fruit and vegetables they will be able to sell and remain economically viable. When a farmer unexpectedly finds himself with triple the volume of honeydew melons he expected to harvest, the purchasing team picks up the phone, calling everyone in their network to place the surplus. More broadly, Veritable Vegetable strives to represent all of a farmer’s product that does not go into direct marketing, such as CSAs or farmers markets. 

This work is invaluable for the health of our foodshed. Christine Coke explains, “One way Veritable Vegetable (and similar businesses) really impact the food system is that they support the small growers, the niche growers and give them an opportunity to thrive by giving them access to the market. They are interested in having a thriving, diverse agricultural community - smaller and larger, specialty and mainstream.”

Food activist, vegetable lover
By this point, you must be wondering who is behind this too-good-to-be-true enterprise.
I first heard the story of Bu Nygrens—Veritable Vegetable co-owner and director of purchasing—at a Real Food Real Stories event. That evening, Bu and fellow co-owner Karen Salinger shared their journey into organic food distribution with an eager group of listeners, speaking not just about produce, but also about collaboration, passion, and transparency. It was there that I learned that Bu first started thinking about the movement of food when her family was driving through one of the tunnels that connects Manhattan to the rural areas that supply much of its food. Looking out of the window, Bu wondered, “What would happen if the tunnel collapsed? Where would we get our food?” 
I was thrilled to catch up with Bu again on July 4th. This was the only day she could catch her breath, as many of her customers were lighting up their grills, instead of placing orders for pallets of watermelons. We were sitting in her office, a stack of eclectic books balancing in one corner, a couple of peaches lounging in a bowl nearby, and the intercom periodically announcing customer calls.
Bu has been with Veritable Vegetable since the beginning, and I wanted to understand what keeps her going forty years later. Perhaps it’s a love for fresh produce. Bu loves English peas, cucumbers, and ripe tomatoes; she also has a soft spot for passion fruit. “Virtually any vegetable tastes good when it’s fresh! I thought I didn’t like green beans until I started tasting them here at VV to check their crispness. It turns out, I do like green beans! I just didn’t like my mom’s green beans,” she exclaims, laughing.

Photo from left to right: Mary Jane Evans, CEO, Karen Salinger, Director of Sales, Bu Nygrens, Director of Purchasing.

Photo from left to right: Mary Jane Evans, CEO, Karen Salinger, Director of Sales, Bu Nygrens, Director of Purchasing.

In reality, Bu explains that what keeps her going is the opportunity to touch so many different aspects of society and culture through food. Food carries memories, it brings comfort. But it is also a powerful tool for achieving social justice: “Nobody ever wonders who are the bus boys, the truck drivers, the apple pickers—they’re just not part of the public discourse. We need to empower them to tell their story.”
Bu has been a lifelong food activist, working toward a more equitable food system. She urges, “We need to understand how money flows in the system—it’s not just about who grew this, but also about who owns the land it grew on, and who earns the profit.” She has a point. Remember that lettuce we’ve been talking about? According to the National Farmers Union, a farmer earns just 26 cents out of an average retail price of $1.69 for a pound of (conventional) lettuce. [3]

This lack of transparency drives Bu and her team to work extra hard on information sharing, something their customers clearly value. To quote Christine Coke once again, “[Veritable Vegetable’s] communication is just really good. They don't play the market, they don't try to profit at the expense of growers. They make you aware of information they have. There's honest discourse, which we really appreciate.” Krystin from Mission Pie refers to VV as a “brain trust” that has educated her along the way.
My conversation with Bu meanders through other big topics, including the importance of democratic infrastructure, the loss of farmland to development, the role of agriculture in alleviating climate change, and the power of female decision-making. These are the kinds of issues that motivate Veritable Vegetable’s work and bring Bu to the office on Independence Day.
With such inspired and thoughtful leadership at the helm, it is only natural that we can see Veritable Vegetable’s commitment to improving our food system extend beyond its direct business. The company has inspired many others and has built long-term partnerships with like-minded organizations to serve the community. You hardly even need to ask, and the praise starts pouring in:

Food is the root of civilization; without farms, there is no food. For the past 40 years, Veritable Vegetable has pioneered efforts to support organic farmers and bring eaters closer to fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. In the past four years, Kitchen Table Advisors has increased the long-term economic viability of our region’s small farmers. I am honored to be a part of both of these organizations and to support farmers in the vital work they do each day to feed our communities and build a thriving and resilient food system.
— Nicole Mason, Director of Marketing & Community Engagement at Veritable Vegetable, Kitchen Cabinet Member at Kitchen Table Advisors
Veritable has been an extraordinary partner and inspiration for Bi-Rite for years. Our relationship goes so much deeper than just a mere transaction. From collaborating on EcoFarm presentations to better understanding how we can use B Corp Certification to better measure and improve our positive impact, VV has fueled our mission of creating community through food. Their sourcing and farm relationships were instrumental in guiding our product sourcing mission, and their impact in the greater community continues to inspire our community engagement, and furthering the positive impact we can make on our people and planet as we pursue our B Corp mandate to be a business as a force for GOOD.
— Sam Mogannam, Founder of Bi-Rite [4]

Be curious, be persistent
So what can you, as a reader and as an eater, do to support the journey of the lettuce? Bu offers some wisdom, ranging from the extremely practical, to the more philosophical:

  • Keep shopping with your eyes, your nose, your hands. Look at the produce, touch it, smell it.
  • Show up politically at the local and regional level. This is where you can really make a difference and make sure people get the kind of information they need to choose the food they buy.
  • Be curious, be persistent. If you stay curious, that means you are interested in the world, in people, in nature. If you are persistent, you won’t give up in the face of disappointment, which is inevitable when there is so much work to be done.

In the meantime, Veritable “still has so much to do,” according to Bu. She lists education, systems improvements, the adoption of ever-safer practices, new developments in green tech, and support for underserved communities.
But the area of need she underscores most is succession planning—not just for Veritable Vegetable, but also for other organizations in the food and agriculture space, as well as for farmers. The food movement relies on a handful of leaders who are “great”, but Bu wonders what will happen once they step down. Similarly, many older farmers are looking to retire and—with their children now living in the city—looking for ways to transition their operations. USDA expects 10% of farmland to change hands by 2019. [5] We need solutions to support this transfer in a way that prevents further loss of farmland to development.
Whether we are talking about young farmers, food activists, or warehouse operators, we have to develop ownership paths for people that prepare them to take the lead. Only in this way can we ensure that fresh, ethically-grown lettuce will continue to reach our plates. Luckily, this is also top-of-mind for KTA, so I’m sure there are exciting opportunities for collaboration ahead.

Photos courtesy of Veritable Vegetable. To learn more about Veritable Vegetable, please visit their website or contact Jennifer Doan with questions.

Kitchen Table Advisors is grateful for Veritable Vegetable’s generous support of this year’s Grazing at the Kitchen Table. The fundraiser will take place from 6.30pm to 9.30pm on Thursday, October 5, 2017 at Dogpatch WineWorks in San Francisco. Tickets go on sale August 10. Follow #GrazeAndGive2017 for updates.

[1] USDA, “Direct Farm Sales of Food: Results from the 2015 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey,” Dec. 2016, available from usda.gov.
[2] http://www.pnas.org/content/112/24/7611.abstract
[3] National Farmers Union, “The Farmer’s Share,” available from nfu.org.
[4] This testimonial was kindly made available by Real Food, Real Stories. Learn more about them
[5] AgWeb, “Did You Know? 10% of Farmland Will Change Hands by 2019”, Aug. 29, 2016. 

A recipe inspired by the abundance of spring, created by our volunteer Megan Leaf


You know it’s spring when there’s an abundance of leeks at the farmers’ market! Until last year, I had no idea how to cook a leek or what they even tasted like. They seemed a little intimidating – like giant overgrown scallions. Was I supposed to use them as garnish?  

 But then I picked some up at the farmers market – 3 GIANT leeks for $2! – and decided to try them out in a potato leek soup. And guess what – they were amazing! Like extra buttery onions. But smoother.

Anyways, since last year I’ve mostly used them in pastas. But they can also go into a quiche for Mother’s Day, into stir fry, into a lovely baked chicken dinner, into puff pastry shells for fancy appetizers. 

This recipe is an example of what I crave when spring rolls around – pasta with very little sauce, but lots of veggies, little bits of salty meat, and a lemony zing. You can easily substitute or add to this dish. I could eat it with a big handful of spinach, cooked down into the pasta at the last minute. Add artichoke hearts, or peas, or asparagus. Substitute fresh baked salmon for the pancetta. Go crazy and get creative with all the green produce in season right now!

Rigatoni with Leeks, Mushrooms & Pancetta

1 16 oz. package rigatoni
¾ cup leftover pasta water
½ cup white wine
1/3 cup parmesan reggiano + extra for topping
3 tbsp butter, divided
4 oz. pancetta or bacon
2 large leeks, chopped
2 large portabella mushrooms
Fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 tbsp milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the rigatoni according to the instructions on the box, but take out 1-2 minutes early, before they reach the al dente stage. They should still be a little chewy with a snap. Drain the pasta, reserving ¾ cup of the water and set aside in a bowl.

While pasta is cooking, slice the leeks in half, and then into strips (see photo).

Dice the pancetta into tiny cubes. Cut the portabella mushrooms into ½ inch cubes.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, with 1 tbsp of the butter. Add the pancetta to the pan and cook in the butter, about 5 minutes, to become just lightly brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a plate, leaving the melted fat and oil in the pan.

Add the chopped leeks and mushrooms to the pan (still over medium heat). Cook until the mushrooms are soft and small.  The leeks and mushrooms should cook down to about half. Transfer cooked leeks and mushrooms to a bowl.

In the saucepan, still over medium heat, melt the additional 2 tablespoons of butter. Add lemon zest and juice, pasta water, and white wine. Turn up the heat to medium/high and allow to come to a boil. Stir in the 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese until no longer lumpy. Add the not-quite-al dente pasta to the sauce and stir well until noodles are totally coated and sauce begins to cook down. When there is only about 3-4 tbsp of sauce left in the pan, take the pan off the heat. Stir in the milk until completely incorporated. Add the leeks, mushrooms, and pancetta to the pasta and mix well. Add salt and pepper as desired.

Enjoy topped with fresh parsley and more parmesan!


Photos & Recipe by: Megan Leaf, The Bay Leaf Kitchen

AuthorKitchen Table Advisors

This month, in addition to the sunny days, blossoming trees and fresh spring greens, there's one more seasonal milestone to celebrate -- Sabor de Abril. For the entire month of April, Kitchen Table Advisors has paired four farms from our newest cohort with four equally amazing sustainably-focused, Mexican-oriented restaurants. Each week these pioneer chefs will be featuring one of our clients in their specialty tacos. All of our participating restaurants will donate a portion of proceeds from this event to support our efforts to fuel the economic viability of these talented and hard-working farmers and ranchers. Tacos are on the menu this month!

Sabor de Abril is the second iteration of this delicious annual fundraiser. Last year, we collaborated with our farmers and chefs to feature Italian pizza via Sapore di Marzo. After Sapore, we made the decision to focus on a new type of cuisine in order to highlight the versatility and diversity of both the clients we work with and our restaurant partners. From there, we spent a lot of time thinking about what foods represent the demographics of the clients we serve, the type of food that we personally love to eat and the types of stories that we are focused on telling this year. Tacos embodied all of those objectives. By participating in Sabor, people can get to know the farms that are stewarding the land in ways that keep our food system healthy, in addition to the restaurants that are supporting these farms by purchasing their products and creating dishes that form the centerpieces of our dining experiences. 

Each week of April presents a different farmer-chef collaboration on tacos. Simply order the specialty taco on the menu when you visit any of our restaurant partners during their featured week. Taco ingredients have been purchased direct from our farmers. 

April 5-9: Los Cilantros paired with Sol Seeker Farm

April 10-16: El Molino Central paired with Big Mesa Farm

April 17-23: Tacos Cala paired with Cruz-Martinez Farm

April 24-30: Mestiza Taqueria paired with La Granjita Organics

With April already underway, if you haven't gotten to Los Cilantros yet this week, you're late! 


On February 28, 2017, 300+ people gathered at UC Davis for the annual CalCAN (California Climate and Agriculture Network) conference. Farmers and ranchers, government and non-profit agencies, policy advocates and funders came together to learn, share best practices, and problem solve around agriculture and climate change.

I had never been to the CalCAN Summit before, but left feeling blown away by the quality of people and conversation. I clearly sensed the deep intersection of our work supporting the economic viability of sustainable small farms and ranches with CalCAN’s coalition and policy work supporting ecological land stewardship and climate resilience on farms.  Several of the farms we support at Kitchen Table Advisors had a presence at the conference: Javier Zamora of JSM Organics was on a farmer panel in the opening plenary; Emma Torbert of Cloverleaf Farm participated in a workshop; and Alexis and Gilles Robertson of Skyelark Ranch hosted a farm tour.

It was great to be in dialogue with seasoned farmers like Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm and Albert Straus of Straus Family Creamery; non-profit partners like POST, California FarmLink, Point Blue, and the Carbon Cycle Institute; thoughtful policy advocates like Renata Brillinger at CalCAN and Dave Runsten at CAFF; and key supporters like Sallie Calhoun of Paicines Ranch, Michael Roberts and Joanna Lehrman at 11th Hour Project, Susan Clark at Gaia Fund, and Nancy Schaub of New Priorities Foundation.

The day after the CalCAN Summit, 70+ people spent the day visiting three farms in the Capay Valley to walk the land, touch and feel the soil, and hear from farmers on the ground about healthy soils, agriculture and climate change, and how they understand the connection between operating an economically successful farm while stewarding the land.

The first stop was at Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Farm & Ranch, owned and operated by the Wintun Nation tribe, to hear from ranch manager Adam Cline about his efforts to raise cattle while improving soil and ecosystem health. Co-leading the tour was Corey Shake, a partner biologist with Point Blue who is part of a statewide rangeland monitoring network providing advice and conducting wildlife and plant species monitoring to learn about the impacts of grazing strategies on soil health.

The group moved on to Full Belly Farm to enjoy a delicious organic lunch prepared on farm with their fresh organic ingredients. Co-owners Judith Redmond and Paul Muller shared their experiments and experiences with minimizing soil disturbance, using various cover crop mixes, and rotating livestock to enhance soil organic matter and carbon sequestration.

The last stop on the farm tour was with Kitchen Table Advisors client Skyelark Ranch, a 40-acre pastured livestock ranch operated by Alexis and Gillies Robertson who receive business advising from our Farm Business Advisor based in Yolo County, Thomas Nelson. Alexis and Gilles are a young couple who have been farming since 2010. They sell their pastured lamb and pork through the Davis and Oakland Jack London Square farmers’ markets, and their pastured eggs to institutions like Airbnb through food hubs like the Capay Valley Farm Shop.

We walked under the canopy of an old almond orchard where Alexis and Gillies rotate pigs and chickens next to fields where they grow hay and graze their sheep. The focus of the conversation was, of course, around how they manage the animals and their land, and how the land stewardship practices of farms like theirs are helping fight climate change.

After we walked under blue skies to the top of the hill that overlooks their farm, Alexis and Gillies reminded us that this conversation about their efforts to steward the land, sequester carbon, and battle climate change has to be considered in the context of the long-term viability of their farm business and their ability to make enough to support their family.  They have a one-year-old daughter, Isla. The family has been working hard and fighting an uphill battle to build Skyelark Ranch to be a farm business that raises livestock in a humane way that is in balance with the land and their community, and provides a living for their young family.

It’s more than clear to Alexis and Gillies that they need to have a farm that is economically viable in order to be sustainable. They need to be able to cover business expenses and investments in long-term farm infrastructure; cover their family’s living expenses; and hopefully have the chance to eventually save a little money. Because if they can’t do that, then despite their best intentions, they will not be able to continue stewarding the land in a way that is in line with their values, incorporating practices that sequester carbon, and building healthy soils.

As the sun was getting low in the sky, we closed our conversation surrounded by sheep in one of their pastures. We talked about how long-term farm viability is a necessary piece of the puzzle to nurturing ecological farm land stewardship, and how farmers like Alexis and Gillies need to focus on running their farm as a business AND build a network of support. It became apparent that all of us gathered together at the CalCAN Summit, standing in a circle around Alexis and Gillies in their pasture, were part of that network: seasoned farmers who provide advice and support; groups like the Capay Valley Farm Shop and Fibershed that market, aggregate, and distribute their product; non-profits like Kitchen Table Advisors and California FarmLink that provide business advising and financing; and organizations like CalCAN that advocate for policy solutions that create an environment in which farms like Skyelark Ranch can thrive. And we each rambled off into the lazy sun of the afternoon to go back to where we came from to play our part in this ecosystem.

Photos courtesy of CalCAN.