Something you might not know about me is that I grew up on a chicken farm with 250,000 chickens. My father was a chicken farmer, and I was born into this world to be an egg candler - at least for the first part of my life. We had a cow named Oreo, a pony named Cookie, and rabbits, sheep (for 4-h), and lots of other critters. Gardening was simply a part of our life, and we were always enticed to plant in the spring with the promise of mud, a messy slip-and-slide, once the planting was done.
When I moved to Sonoma in my 30's, it was like coming home. Since we had the space, planting a garden was really of second nature to me. It was about 5 years ago that I met Andrea and together with Juan Carlos, we began 5th Street Farm.
5th Street Farm became Chateau Sonoma's sister company with a mission of growing custom crops and providing the freshest produce to Ramekins Culinary School. Throughout the year, the farm is managed by myself, our fabulous gardener Juan Carlos, and organic-gardening consultant Andrea Davis-Cetina (owner of Quarter Acre Farm). Since 2012, the three of us have worked hard to develop 5th Street Farm into a fully functioning provider for Ramekins.
As we began 5th Street Farm, we placed an emphasis on 'no food left behind', doing our best to eliminate any and all waste from the produce. Our plum trees, tomato plants, and berry bushes often produce more fruit than Ramekins can use, which led us to preserving the overabundance into tasty jams and jellies. We now sell these at Chateau Sonoma which make for wonderful gifts wrapped up in Coyuchi towels!
Now that fall is here, we are harvesting what is left of the season - with more pumpkins and tomatoes than we can count! Once the fall harvest is completed, and December rolls around, we will enter full planning mode for the next year's plot. We first meet with Chef Kyle to discuss how many pounds of produce he'd like per week - for both Ramekins as well as The General's Daughter; then, we determine how many jars of preserves we'd like to keep. This takes a great amount of preparation, but pays off throughout the year!
After all of this planning, Andrea spends the month of January calculating how many plants we need to grow in order to produce the amount of food we'd like to harvest, then determines how many seeds we need to purchase to start the appropriate amount of plants. Finally, she creates a planting schedule so that we have a steady supply of crops throughout the year. All of this planning is necessary so that come harvest time, we will have enough produce to fulfill each outlet's needs.
Part of what makes 5th Street Farm so unique is that it exists simply to provide Ramekins with a direct farm connection both in produce and by providing a place for guests and staff to visit and learn about local & seasonal food, if you'd like to learn more about 5th Street Farm, we are hosting a fall Farm Dinner this Saturday from 5-8pm, we'd love to see you!