Support Needed for Solano School Gardens

On this Giving Tuesday, join us in supporting Slow Food Solano’s School Garden Grant program.

For the last nine years, Slow Food Solano has given grants to schools throughout Solano County, enabling teachers and volunteers to get students into the garden, to
grow and taste fresh food. Any donation is appreciated. As Slow Food Founder Carlo Petrini noted this Giving
Tuesday, “A little is not too much, but nothing is too little.”

Checks payable to Slow Food Solano can be mailed to treasurer Sannie Osborn,
3236 Gates Canyon Road, Vacaville, CA 95688. Or donate online at
All donations are tax deductible. Our treasurer Sannie will send you a
receipt by email or regular mail.

Tomato Day at Morningsun Herb Farm Supports School Gardens

Colorful assortment of fresh organic whole and cut heirloom tomatoes sitting on wooden tableTomato lovers look forward to Tomato Day at the peak of tomato harvest in Solano County, when Morningsun Herb Farm in Pleasants Valley sets out a grand table laden with dozens of varieties of the summer’s favorite food.

Last year’s annual Tomato Day was Sunday, September 10. Tomato tasting was the highlight of this event, where tasters are encouraged to vote on each of the tomatoes they sample, allowing Morningsun to calculate the overall favorites. The farm publishes detailed results along with descriptions of the top vote getters, allowing the farm and home gardeners to plan ahead for planting in coming seasons. View results from the 2016 tasting on at this link. Along with tomato tasting, visitors can watch cooking demonstrations, learn more about local resources, purchase fresh produce and unique items from the craft booths, and enjoy a stroll through the lovely garden of Vacaville’s Morningsun Herb Farm.

Usually held on the last Sunday in August, last year’s Tomato Day was moved to a later date to accommodate Mother Nature and the later start to the growing season. And as usual, visitors were welcomed to the Pleasants Valley Road herb farm with free parking and shuttle service from Soul Food Farm just down the road. To take part in the tomato tastings, visitors were asked to donate $5 each to benefit the Slow Food Solano’s School Garden Grant Program.

“Tomato Day donations plant the seeds for our county-wide school garden grant program,” said Slow Food Solano Chairwoman Cynthia Huddleston. “We love to see students back in the garden.”

The 2017 fund-raising effort once again received a boost from two major sponsors, E B Stone Organics of Suisun City and NorthBay Healthcare. Each offered to match any donations up to $250 each. Visitors donating to the sponsor table were entered into a drawing for one of several gift baskets of locally-source products.

A Life Well Lived — Mary Bourguignon Remembered and Honored

Slow Food Solano members are remembering our good friend, architect of our School Garden Grant Program, enthusiastic volunteer par excellence, and overflowing fount of knowledge, Mary Bourguignon (or Mary B., as we affectionately referred to her), who passed away unexpectedly on March 16, 2017. Please see her obituary on the Daily Republic website at

Mary B. was dedicated to Slow Food tenets – good, clean, affordable food for all – and was known for following her beliefs with action. She lost little time in creating our School Garden Grant program 11 years ago and then tirelessly promoted, raised money for, and oversaw the granting process until the last two years. She gave our organization purpose and direction with her investment in school gardens. The School Garden Grant Program has become the heart of Slow Food Solano.

While Mary worked tirelessly to establish a well-honed grant process, she didn’t stop there. Slow Food Solano needed a public statement to display at special events. So, she found an exhibit designer to create a Slow Food information table that really made us look like we knew what we were doing. This exhibit and Mary’s enthusiasm to reach out to children led to Slow Food Solano’s participation in the annual March Youth Ag Day at the Solano County Fairgrounds. She organized volunteers and activities to accompany an ever-evolving exhibit. As 3,000 third graders came through, Mary was ready with activity stations that got students thinking about and looking at real food. She was non-stop in patiently explaining to these students how to read the sticker on an apple to see if it was certified organic. No doubt more than a few of those 3rd graders still look for the “9” next to the inventory code.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Mary not only for these programs that she put her stamp of enthusiasm and organization on but also for her constant exhortations to us to do more, to set concrete goals, and to involve more people in our programs.

We will carry on her work and strive to build on the great legacy she has left us.
– Ruth Begell, chair emeritus and Cynthia Huddleston, present chair, Slow Food Solano.

Il Fiorello Hosts Fall Mixer on Nov. 20

il-fiorelloFreshly milled olive oil is the centerpiece for the Slow Food Solano Fall Mixer on Sunday, Nov. 20, 5:30-8 pm at Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company in Fairfield (

A fund-raiser for Slow Food Solano’s School Garden Grant Program, the mixer begins at 5:30 pm. A tour of the olive oil milling operation, the certified organic olive groves, vegetable and herb gardens begins at 6 pm. Guests will have the opportunity to learn about the history and traditions of olive oil milling, see the Italian mill where the oil is produced, sample freshly milled oil and learn more about using olive oil in your own kitchen.

Hors d’oeuvres prepared by Il Fiorello’s Chef Darren will be served and there will be a no-host wine bar.

Tickets are available through Nov. 14 on Brown Paper Tickets The cost is $25 per person. Because Chef Darren needs to know how much food to prepare, tickets must be purchased by Monday, Nov. 14.

Il Fiorello’s visitor center also offers early holiday gift ideas with a unique selection of its award-winning oils and vinegars as well as other locally produced goods. It is located at 2625 Mankas Corner Road in Fairfield, just a couple miles north of the I-80 freeway at the Abernathy Road.

Questions? Email Slow Food Solano Co-Chair Cynthia Huddleston at, call or text her at (707) 372-8658.

Tomato Day Success Benefits School Gardens

DSC_0805Tomato Day 2016 was a slice of heaven on Sunday when 400 tomato lovers came to taste 80 varieties at MorningSun Herb Farm in Vacaville. And thanks to herb farm owners Rose and Dan, Slow Food Solano raised $2500 for its school garden grant program. Yes, it’s amazing how all those $5 donations add up. Plus this year we had the support of EB Stone Organics of Suisun and NorthBay Healthcare. They each gave matching donations of $250 which we managed to just meet from the generosity of additional donations by Tomato Day visitors and Slow Food members.

We also had the pleasure of great chef demonstrations by Il Fiorello Olive Oil Co. in Fairfield – thank you Darren and Elisabeth – Vacaville’s Backdoor Bistro owner/chef Lindsey Gilpin and the always irrepressible Annie Baker of Annie the of Napa.

Morningsun grew all the tomatoes this year next door to their herb farm and at Soul Food Farm down the road. A bonanza year for tomatoes – which Rose guesses they will be picking as late as the end of October. So if you are hankering for fresh, organic tomatoes, drop by Morningsun. At $2.50 a pound, it’s a great deal.

All hail glorious tomatoes!

Tomato Lovers Celebrate at Morningsun Herb Farm in Vacaville

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Colorful assortment of fresh organic whole and cut heirloom tomatoes sitting on wooden tableTomato lovers are looking forward to a glorious August day when Morningsun Herb Farm in Pleasants Valley sets out a grand table laden with dozens of varieties of the summer’s favorite food.

This year’s annual Tomato Day is 11 am to 3:30 pm Sunday, August 21. Along with tomato tasting, visitors can watch cooking demonstrations, stroll through the fresh produce and craft booths and hang out in the lovely garden and fountain of Vacaville’s Morningsun Herb Farm.

Usually held on the last Sunday in August, this year’s Tomato Day is one week earlier. “We hope our regular Tomato Day folks recognize the earlier date,” said Morningsun Herb Farm’s Rose Loveall. And as usual, visitors are welcomed to the Pleasants Valley Road herb farm with free parking and shuttle service. To take part in the tomato tastings, visitors are asked to donate $5 each to benefit the Slow Food Solano’s School Garden Grant Program.

“Tomato Day donations plants the seeds for our county-wide school garden grant program. This year, we were able to fund 27 school garden projects on 26 elementary to high school campuses,” said Slow Food Solano Chairwoman Cynthia Huddleston. “We love to see students back in the garden.”

The 2016 fund-raising effort is getting a boost from two major sponsors, E B Stone Organics of Suisun City and NorthBay Healthcare. Each offers to match any donations up to $250 each. Visitors donating to the sponsor table will be entered in a drawing for one of several gift baskets of locally-source products.

When visitors arrive to taste tomatoes under shady trees amid flowering plants, they encounter the Slow Food Tent where volunteers collect donations and provide a map and schedule of events. The special matching donor table will be on display next to the Slow Food tent.

Sunday, August 21
11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
In the shady gardens of Morningsun Herb Farm
6137 Pleasants Valley Road, Vacaville
$5 Donation per person to Slow Food Solano’s School Garden Grant Program

What you may enjoy with your $5 donation:

Taste more than 100 varieties of vine ripened heirloom tomatoes – and vote on your favorites!

Browse the local Artisan stands with unique local products

Picnic in the gardens

Shop the Herb Garden’s shop with your special discount

See Chef Cooking Demonstrations – and taste the results

This year’s chefs are:
Lindsey Gilpin of Backdoor Bistro
Annie Baker of Annie the Baker Cookie
Darren Porter and Elisabeth Sievers of Il Fiorello Olive Oil Co.

For more information about Morningsun Herb Farm visit

Garden to Cafeteria Webinar Shares Successes and Models from Across the U.S.

webinarsThe National School Garden Program hosts monthly leader calls/webinars to provide our Slow Food chapters and school garden volunteers further support and technical assistance. Webinars are free and open to the public. Visit the website for upcoming and past calls, including the ability to download presentations and the recorded webinars.

Upcoming webinars:
June 23, 2016 at Noon PT (3pm ET) – Garden to Cafeteria: Successes, Challenges and Models from Across the U.S.

If you have ever encountered challeges getting your school garden produce into the lunchroom, you won’t want to miss this webinar provided by Slow Food USA. This month, they will be discussing the concept of Garden to Cafeteria (GTC). According to the Slow Food USA website, a GTC program can serve as an incredible educational opportunity for students and greatly contribute to changing a school food culture. However, successfully implementing a GTC program requires planning around food safety, proper training, and partnership development. Slow Food USA will describe their successes working with the county health department and food service to develop a robust GTC program in Denver, CO, and will highlight other exciting models from across the U.S.

Guest presenters:
Kyla Van Deusen, Program Manager for Captain Planet Foundation’s Project Learning Garden
Bang Tran, FoodCorps Service Member for Captain Planet Foundation in Atlanta, GA
Drew Thomas, School Garden Coordinator for Chicago Public Schools
Tristana Pirkl, Grant Programs Manager, Whole Kids Foundation

On Thursday June 23, 2016 at 3 PM ET
Join from your computer, tablet or smartphone:

The webinar is open to the public and will be recorded and available at

Napa Grass Farmer Hosts May Mixer

John and BuffaloNapa Grass Farmer welcomed Slow Food Solano to its Mankas Corner Road setting in Fairfield on Memorial Day weekend for our annual Spring Mixer with a Saturday potluck and a tour of its 150-acre regenerative farming operation.

In Slow Food, the talk tends to be center on good, clean fruits and vegetables grown locally. But Napa Grass Farmer is giving us a remarkable opportunity to examine the eggs and meat we eat and learn what standards we should aim for in what we chose to buy for morning scrambles, Saturday night barbecues, and chicken soup.

Loading the 30 mixer guests on his hay-bale-lined flatbed wagon, our co-host, John, informed us on the five standards to better tasting, healthier meat that is the bedrock of his farming operations and principals.

Our eyes were opened to what we all need to understand and integrate into our own food buying choices.

Taking notes during the tour was not easy with a wine glass in one hand. However, the website explains it all: going beyond organic to better tasting, nutritional superior meat by farming methods that are good for the land, good for animals and good for us.

Napa Grass Farmer meat, eggs, and other specialty foods are available only through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) monthly box. Through its website, the customer can customize an order to fit one’s needs. Orders are picked up at the farm at the end of the month.

Slow Food Solano thanks John and Gabby, partners in this remarkable farm, for hosting us. We encourage everyone to study what they do at Napa Grass Farmer as well as sample their amazing products.

– Cynthia Huddleston
tractor tourDSC_0680
Moving BuffaloDSC_0683

Slow Food Solano Awards School Garden Grants

(Vacaville, CA) Slow Food Solano has awarded a record $7,580 to support 28 school gardens in Solano County.

This is the tenth year that Slow Food Solano has awarded garden grants. The average grant is for $300. It allows teachers to buy seeds, plants, irrigation materials, shovels, gloves and other materials and supplies needed.

Teachers in elementary, middle and high schools across the County devote their time and effort to growing a garden. This year, 11 more grants were awarded than last year and 13 new applicants submitted applications.

Slow Food Solano Garden Grant Coordinator Carla Elvidge praised the commitment of the teachers who add the labor-intensive activity of growing a garden to their already challenging academic day.

She also thanked Mary Bourguignon, who has served as Slow Food’s grant coordinator for the first nine years of supporting school gardens, for her many years of service to develop and expand the program.

Awards were made to 9 programs in Vacaville, 12 in Vallejo, 4 in Benicia and 3 in Fairfield. The average award was for $300. An award was made to every applicant!

The Benicia grants were made to teachers at Joe Henderson Elementary School, Liberty High School, and two to Mary Farmar Elementary School (the main school and the kindergarten).

The Fairfield grants went to teachers at Suisun Valley Elementary School, Oakbrook Elementary School and Vanden High School.

The Vacaville grants were made to teachers at ACE Charter School, Alamo Elementary School, Browns Valley Elementary School, Buckingham Charter School, Cambridge Elementary School, the Child Start Inc-Head Start program, Cooper Elementary School, Edwin Markham Elementary School, and Orchard Elementary School.

Vallejo recipient schools included Annie Pennycook Elementary School, Everest Academy (middle school), Grace Patterson Elementary School, Highland Elementary School, John Finney High School, Lincoln Elementary School, Loma Vista Environmental Science Academy (both 3rd graders and the 4-8 grade youth leadership team), MIT Academy of Technology (high school), St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School, Steffan Manor Elementary School, and Vallejo Charter School (middle school).

Elvidge also thanked the school districts and the teacher unions’ leaders for getting the word out to teachers about the availability of these grants. “It has made a huge difference in the number of teacher who applied this year,” she says.

Each school has a unique project and a unique story to tell about their experience.

Grant recipients range from the 18-year old program at Alamo Elementary School in Vacaville to a brand new program at Highland Elementary School in Vallejo where second graders will plant and tend a seed in a cup. At Alamo, signs in the garden bar tell what food was grown and its health benefits. Curriculum lessons include life cycles of plants and insects.

The second graders at Highland will experience first-hand the life-cycle of a plant and will learn about growing nutritious food and accepting responsibility.

At John Finney High School in Vallejo, students in an after-school program called “the Change” maintain the garden. They have a focus on charity and donate many of the vegetables they grow to provide hot meals for the homeless once a week. They, like a few of the other schools, have a Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) program certified by Solano County.

The teacher at Oakbrook Elementary School in Fairfield, which has also had a garden for many years, reported, “We are grateful for the continued support of Slow Food Solano as our educational environment has become increasingly technological.”

At Mary Farmar Elementary in Benicia, class visits to the garden enhance curriculum, such as studying plant cells and the geosphere, math (percents), planting root vegetables for Borscht soup (history of Fort Ross and Russian immigrants).

Slow Food Solano is a local chapter of the non-profit Slow Food USA, whose goal is to help create and sustain a food system that is good, clean and fair. All money raised goes to support the School grant program. Individuals wishing to support school gardens with a tax-deductible contribution may donate online at

Carla Elvidge, Slow Food Solano Garden Grant Coordinator

Marilyn Farley, Slow Food Solano Garden Grant Assistant


Walnut and Almond News from Nut-N-Other

AngieatMarketsmallWalnuts and almonds are still available! We expect to have walnuts until the end of April and almonds through the end of June.

If Mother Nature is good to our almond blossoms, we can expect to have this year’s almond crop ready sometime in late September or early October. Typically, the blossoms appear around Valentine’s Day in February. We’re looking forward to seeing the blossoms and hoping rain and wind storms do not disturb the buds as they blossom.

Email, call or text to pick up at the farm or to arrange to have an order delivered to you. Please give notice if you plan on visiting the farm, we don’t want to miss you!

Angelina McKinsey
Nut-N-Other Farms
6212 Silveyville Road
Dixon, CA 95620
(707) 318-4970

Visit for information on products and the Farmers Market schedule.

Happiness & Good Health!