Preparing for the veggie explosion

May is always the month that really begins to feel like spring to me, 
when we are anxious to get outside, be in the garden, get going on planting in earnest.
Remember the article we posted about how 
getting your hands in the dirt elicits a feeling of euphoria?
This is true spring fever, which of course will soon 
become full-blown summer obsession. 
one section of our farm early Fall 2011
The seduction of our gardens, enticing us to plant as much as we can, 
may bring us to the moment where we have run out of ideas 
of what to do with the abundant zucchini 
or the rampant arugula (can there really be too much arugula?) 
Of course this is not really a problem-how could there be too many fresh vegetables? 
And certainly, when it is winter time, we know we will be 
missing that just-picked squash, tomato or bunch of fresh herbs. 
One option for all those veggies is pickling
Pickling is not just for fall harvest or something we do as we prep for winter-
it is easy throughout the year and can be a great option 
when you have been overly enthusiastic at the farmer's market or in your own garden. 
One day last summer, John mused while working at the farm, 
that when they are in season, "I just want to eat as many fresh vegetables 
as I can each day." We all know what he means-
those verdant salads and colorful side dishes--
(spring and summer almost persuades us to become vegetarians!)
So, go ahead and plant whatever you want. 
It is amazing how much food you can grow in a small space
SF Sustainable Food has great ideas and inspiration
 for growing food in urban areas or other small areas. 

area behind the fig not much bigger than your house

or use a raised bed-we have several behind the fig
And whether you are growing your own food or not, 
 be sure to support your local Farmers Markets. 
I figure if you are reading this blog, you likely already know your Farmer's Markets 
and CSA resources, as well as restaurants like ours 
that serve fresh seasonal food, but if this helps, go to Local Harvest  
to find that information anywhere in the country or more California-focused, 
 is Community Alliance with Family Farmers: "Buy Fresh/Buy Local."  
For national resources and more in-depth discussion, visit Sustainable Table-
celebrating local sustainable food and providing education 
about issues that build community through food.
 "Beacalivore," and join in the "Food Journey of California" 
this new Facebook page connects you to like-minded food friends. 
And of course, build your own community by 
sitting down at a table with friends and family whenever you can. 
So, in your garden or at the Farmers Markets indulge in what is fresh and seasonal. 
It lifts my spirits when I see new vegetables that herald a change in the season-
asparagus telling me that spring is arriving and of course 
tomatoes affirming that we are in summer!  
When your bounty overflows and your creativity for what to do 
with all you've gathered is challenged, think pickles. 
Pickled veggies liven up a salad, are a perfect complement to salumi or certain cheeses 
our house-made pickles from the farm with house salumi
and as for a grilled burger--well, you know what I mean!
the girl & the fig's burger

But not just pickled pickles. John and the chefs pickle lots o'vegetables all year and in 2010 expanded our pickling to create Sonoma Valley Sharecropper project. 
This became a natural outgrowth of the farm project, 
as a way to share the bounty of our harvest at Imagery Estate Vineyards 
 with the Benziger family who own the land we farm. 

This traditional Sharecropper arrangement for us as tenant farmers
 deepens our connection with the farm and 
our commitment to being part of the community. 
From Bread & Butter pickles, Sonoma Valley Sharecropper 
grew to include a wide range of vegetables
 from cauliflower, carrots, and fennel in winter 
to onions, ramps, leeks and fava beans in spring.
Our pickled sweet & sour squash was a finalist for the Good Food Award in 2010.

Now you can use our exclusive blend of pickling spices 
to create your own pickled vegetables.
Sonoma Valley Sharecropper Pickling Spices 
are available at all our restaurants, online at the FIGstore 
or at Local Landscapers' booth at the Tuesday night Farmer's Market in Sonoma.

Sonoma Valley Sharecropper Pickling Spices are created 
using spices from all over world and are available in three varieties: 

color for carrots, red peppers, rhubarb, beets, purple cabbage, 
purple cauliflower, red onions, orange peppers and tomatoes.

blanc  for cauliflower, jicama, onions, turnips, parsnips, 
white radishes, shallots, mushrooms and cabbage.

vert for zucchini, cucumbers, asparagus, brocolini, green peppers, 
artichokes, green tomatoes, peapods, Brussels sprouts and green beans.

The pickling process for the home chef takes about 30 minutes hands-on
in the kitchen and then 24 hours in the fridge for the vegetables to marinate. 
Tips are included from the Chef and we hope you will also be inspired to be creative.
Watch John's pickling demo on ABC TV for tips. 

Pickling extends our experience of the farm, allowing us to enjoy
the abundance we harvest all year and in new ways. 
The same vegetables we savor fresh from the garden 
are transformed into a new flavor with a different use.
We created these blends to help you do the same with your bounty.
Share your experiences, ideas and recipes with us,
tell us how you like to serve the pickled veggies.

And of course now that we are entering high farm & garden season,
enjoy getting your hands dirty as well as
all the freshness the farm has to offer to your table.

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