Once upon a time there was a table spread out under the tree at the foot of the UCSC campus. Twice a week, it would be filled with fresh-harvested produce—flowers, herbs, fruit, vegetables—all grown on the organic acres of the campus. Those who developed a taste for the exceptional flavors of the campus organic wares will be happy to know that the summer 2022 version of that produce cart—the Farmstand—is open once again with freshly harvested items grown at the UCSC Farm and Chadwick Garden. And once again, it’s located inside the Cowell Ranch Hay Barn on Wednesdays from noon to 5pm and Fridays from 11am to 3pm, through November. Just a few clicks up the road from its original home at the crossroads of High and Bay Streets, the Farmstand’s current location gives patrons an excuse to drive up a bit through impossibly scenic landscape and enjoy the big, cool, cavernous entrance to the handsomely renovated Hay Barn.
When I stopped by last week, I had no idea that I was in need of baby beet greens. But when I spied the $2 bag of the tender little leaves, I realized I was in luck. No one who doesn’t have a large growing area devoted to beets can afford the luxury of picking these delicious little greens, but once you’ve tasted them fresh in salads, or sauteed alongside a filet of steelhead (for example) you develop a craving.
More luck! The Farmstand had huge bunches of å ($2), known to sushi fans as shiso leaf. (I hope the guys at Totoro are reading this—I’ve been missing the addition of shiso leaf to their classic tekka maki.) Peppery and deliciously unlike any other green herb/leaf, perilla is a rare treat to experiment with in the kitchen. And the spring onions! And the baskets of fragrant strawberries, the infant micro-greens, small cauliflowers, plump avocados and endless array of kales, chards and lettuces in infinite shades of green. It’s still early season, and the current offerings of baby onions, leafy greens and salad mixes will soon give way to the deep summer specialties.
If, like us, you’re devoted to extremely fresh organic produce, then you’ll be looking forward to the Farmcart’s upcoming crops of sweet corn, broccoli, hot and not-hot peppers, basil and the exceptional heirloom and dry-farmed tomatoes. Tomatoes like they probably grew in the Garden of Eden. All the produce is organically grown at UCSC by Center for Agroecology staff and students. Don’t be shy. The Farmstand is open to the campus and broader community, with sales directly supporting the center’s educational programs and mission of advancing agroecology and equitable food systems. Mostly a visit here is a chance to soak up idyllic ambience just up the hill from downtown Santa Cruz. Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information on the Farmstand and other Farm & Garden produce sales options visit agroecology.ucsc.edu.
Join the well-seasoned power cuisine of Colectivo Felix at a South American-inspired five-course winemaker dinner, paired with Ser wines from the hand of Nicole Walsh. Starting with a 2020 Sparkling Rosé of Grenache with fresh corn truffled Arepa maize pastries, through a Pie Ranch blue corn tamal and braised pork paired with Ser 2016 Pinot Noir, a few more courses and then dessert of red plum and herb crumble paired with Enz Vineyard, old vine Cabernet Pfeffer. And much more! It happens at the Ser Tasting Room—10 Parade St., Ste. B in Aptos on Saturday, July 9 starting at 6pm. $120.