Latest Event Updates
The following is a recent article highlighting the high quality local foods we enjoy in the Valley!:
Sonoma Valley has long been known as a source for high quality food. This fact was enshrined when Alice Waters chose Cannard farms as a supplier for her then nascent farm to table restaurant concept in Berkeley – Chez Panisse. Long before that, the Valley put forth abundance in the form of quality cheese and dairy, orchard crops such as walnuts and stonefruit, and of course, premium wines. Over the decades, the viticulture grew in size and notoriety, but, as may be redundant to many Sonomans, good wine is best accompanied with good food. Many of the finest restaurants in Sonoma and beyond tout their use of local produce, meats, dairy and beverages on their menus, and some groceries have done similar in their promotion of locally sourced food and drink.
Its beneath this backdrop that Mike Zakowski (Mike the Bejkr in Sonoma parlance) has thrived. Known for his breads, pizzas, and huge array of baked goods, Mike branched out his culinary reach some years back in a partnership with Tony Coturri, legendary natural wine maker, in the production of a local cider. Recently, this partnership produced an award winning cider at the Good Food awards. I sat down with Mike over a glass of this medal-winning cider to discuss good food and drink.
“Mike, how did this partnership come about between you and Tony?”
MZ – “Back in 2014, I was training for the masters de la boulangerie, an international baking competition, in Paris, and was developing a cider bread. I am a big fan of natural and organic wines, Coturris focus, and approached Tony about the concept and it went from there.”
“Did you have a roadmap for what you wanted to do?”
MZ – “We wanted to make a natural cider, in a similar fashion as Tony does his naturally fermented wines – no yeast, no sulfer, just juice. To find the best juice we talked to Paul Kolling, famous West County apple farmer (and husband of the famous sandwich shop chef Kendra Kolling, the Farmers Wife). He sourced gravenstein apples from Sebastapol and we made our first vintage.”
“I remember that, the clear glass jug”
MZ – “Yeah we started out with custom bottles, hemp paper labels and other things that we changed to reduce costs over time. We changed to a standard size 750ml bottle, and the recipe varied as we worked on the fermentation and natural carbonation, but have kept the same simple ingredients 100% Gravenstein apples, thus the name, Aeplz.”
“The label refers to the production as being Petillant Naturel, is this fancy talk for natural wine?”
MZ – “Not exactly, it is an old process, known as the methode ancestrale in France, of bottling the cider while it is still fermenting to trap carbon dioxide, creating natural carbonation.”
“How does it feel to win the category in this event, it looked like there was some good competition!”
MZ – “Its good to be recognized for what you do, for making something that stays true to the essence of the ingredients, and the history and culture of the process. It’s the same with my baking, you start with the best ingredients, always organic, and local if possible, and you have a strong foundation to work from”
“Where can people find a bottle of Aeplz”
MZ – “Tony has it marketed under the Coturri label found at various wine shops. The Aeplz label is only available from me”
“Well we know where to find you, Friday Farmer’s Market!”
MZ – “Yep, see you there.”
You can find Mike and his latest culinary creations at an epicenter of quality local food, the Fridays Farmers Market weekly 9:00am – 12:30pm at Depot Park.
(Seth Dolinsky is manager of the Sonoma Valley Agricultural Cooperative, a program of the Sonoma Springs Community Hall aimed at supporting local farms and food producers using organic methods and ingredients, and is owner of New Land Systems, a regenerative land management company.)
After a very wet end to 2021, things are drying out here in the Valley. At the garden, the beds are either planted with spring crops or finishing up on fall plantings. New herbs are planted or awaiting pots (for spearmint, lemon balm and other invasives). Plans are being drawn up for garden improvements and expansion, and for volunteer days to share the bounty and experience. All interested volunteers can contact Seth at firstname.lastname@example.org
The following is an article we have submitted to the Sonoma Sun, a great local newspaper, to highlight the current bounty found at our local farmers market:
As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, the end of the growing season for Sonoma Valley farms is upon us. The Winter Solstice is a time when nature retreats and humanity celebrates. With the heady abundant days of summer long past, local farms are near the end of what has been a solid growing season. A visit to Paul’s Produce just off Arnold Drive for a visual reconnaissance revealed the dirt on what’s coming to market for the holidays.
As usual, my inspection yielded exceptionally tidy rows of vegetables, in all shades of green mixed with reds from lettuces and chicory, a reminder of Paul’s skill in growing and managing his crops. There were signs of recently harvested fennel bulbs, with only the outer skins remaining discarded along the bed. There were long rows of brassica’s – broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kales – some of which were in the process of harvest, while others, due to successive plantings, were laying in wait for future harvest. I felt a sense of security, as a resident of the Valley, in knowing there was food growing in my neighborhood, and lots of it!
My trip to the Friday Farmers market led to a reunion with Paul’s crops, now harvested and laid out on tables that seemed to go on forever. Going down the line we had lettuce mix, radicchio, arugula, pea shoots. There were the brassicas, next to the last peppers of the season, root vegetables a-plenty, including Paul’s famous carrots. German butterball potatoes, leeks, onions, and winter squash – a true bounty and resource for the home chef. And that was just one booth at the market!
Across the way, the Patch had another impressive spread, highlighted by large tables of purple and yellow cauliflower, large heads of lettuce, beets, squash, beautiful bunches of multi-colored radish, and, incredibly, tomatoes! Owner Lazaro Calderon admitted “This is my last week, I’m going to till in everything before the rain”. He sounded relieved to take a break from the vegetable treadmill that he had been on for 9 months strait. While the Patch will be missed, the slack is taken up by Oak Hill Farm, with their aesthetically pleasing booth, decorated with cut flowers and greens, holiday wreaths, and excellent produce, including: Romanesco cauliflower, turnips, little gem lettuce, Yukon gold potatoes, persimmons, garlic and whole brussels sprout stems.
Loaded to bear with vegetables, I moved to fruit, picking up great mandarins from Gertz farm. “I’ll be here every week” assured orchardist Chris Gertz, “Citrus is coming on strong” pointing to navel oranges, pink grapefruit and Meyer lemons. More citrus was to be had at Rhodes farm across the way, as well as Asian pears, apples, persimmons, and late harvest Crimson table grapes from the Central Valley. I stopped for the micro-greens from Sweetwater Spectrum, some carrots from Ortiz farm, who had impressive holiday wreaths, mushrooms from Sammy’s Bohemian Farm from Occidental, and, of course, bread from Mike the Bejkr, who has a variety of seasonal breads and baked goods, cookies, scones, and incredible kabocha squash chocolate cookies. With so many more booths to go, selling local meats, eggs, dairy, teas and coffee, fermented foods, I realized two things – how lucky we are to have high quality foods available directly from the producers, and… that I had to go back to the ATM. Friday’s farmers market is truly a one stop-shop!
Saturday 10:00am – 2:00pm at the Springs Community Garden at Larson Park!
Halloween y la Dia De Los Muertos Sunday October 24th 10:00am – 2:00pm at the Springs Garden at Larson Park
A Community cross-cultural event celebrating the Fall season.
Pop-up pumpkin patch – local vegetable giveaway
creative activities with Art Escape – altar building
Find out more at Springsgarden.org
When the Farmers Friend program was envisioned nearly a year ago, the idea was to connect local farms with local food distributions. This idea was put into practice with the partnership with Food For All/Comida Para Todos, and after 16 or so distributions and almost 15,000 lbs , much of that from local farms, the idea became reality.
Thank You Pauls’ Produce, Oak Hill Farm, Whole
Foods, Cannard Farm, Gertz Farm and Two Moon
Some time back, when we were meeting in public, folks at a Springs Municipal Advisory Committee were proposing ideas for Springs improvement projects. More pocket parks, and a formal plaza conveying a sense of place were some of the big project visions. The Springs plaza has long been proposed for the area north of the Post Office building, where the Springs farmers market was hosted.
Springs resident Janice Folzman, who had spearheading beautification projects in the area, proposed smaller projects that would beautify an small space, a private or public landscape, and support for local businesses and Highway 12 residents in improving their properties. A few volunteers present, including myself, agreed to meet and discuss potential projects. The Agua Caliente Fire Station (Sonoma Valley Fire Station #3) was chosen as a great visible, gateway project which could also serve to demonstrate firewise landscaping and honor our FIrst Responders at the same time. The Fire Department liked the idea and we planned our design.
On a recent Saturday, Springs Hall volunteers, Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley, and Sonoma Valley Wholesale Nursery staff and owner Paul Martinez met up to install the second phase of the project.
Future additions call for artistic and sculptural features which highlight the importance of this property and its brave workers in keeping our communities safe.
As we have been reporting, the Farmer’s Friend program has been focused on supporting essential food distributions by connecting local farmers with those in need. Our local, organic produce is often less available to many in our community, due to cost, access, and education on the value of these products.
Our work with Food For All/Comida Para Todos has been very gratifying, particularly given the support that program has shown the Springs Hall’s efforts, but also from the positive response and generosity of our farmers as well as great community volunteers that make this happen. We will be expanding the program to work in conjunction with our efforts to support and promote local agriculture. To find out more or for ways to participate, contact us at: email@example.com
Ask and ye shall recieve!
We have found that, just by “doing the work”, you will find new opportunities. Thank you to all that have supported this program, including Pauls Produce, Oak Hill Farm, Cannard Farm, Sonoma Garden Park, Food For All, Whole Foods market and community members. The recent distribution was amazing with murdoch cabbage, leeks, sweet and russet potato, baby turnips with greens, carrots, apples, and great community gleaned citrus brought in by Shannon Erickson Lee.