Gleaming tech campuses and the beige sprawl of Silicon Valley is built on some of the world’s richest soil. The Community Alliance for Family Farmers (CAFF) strives to highlight the area’s oft-overlooked local agriculture as globalization, corporatization and mechanization threaten to take over the way our food is produced.
“There’s obviously an environmental impact when you’re buying things from far away,” says Rosemary Quinn, CAFF’s Farm to Market Coordinator. “Supporting local farmers and keeping your money in the community is also really important for [economic] vitality. And there’s the health benefit of consuming local. The food is going to have more nutritional value when it’s coming straight out of a field and not sitting in a truck for weeks.”
CAFF is a nonprofit that educates consumers, connects farmers to buyers and pushes ag-friendly policies in Sacramento. But all this costs money, so they’re hosting the second annual “Taste of the Santa Clara Valley” dinner on Oct. 17 at Martial Cottle Park, a 150 year-old farm converted into a recreation and education center. Jacob’s Farm/Del Cabo still tend the long-tilled land, trying drought-resistant techniques like dry farming, which gives heirloom/Early Girl tomato plants a deep soak to get started and then not a drop more until harvest.
“We’re gonna have produce from Jacob’s farm [at the dinner],” Quinn says. “You’ll be able to look out and see where it grew in the field and now it’s on your plate. And that’s just so important to know, to have that transparency.”
The Epicurean Group will cater the lavish, multi-course dinner using only food grown within 150 miles of the park. Appetizers include pacific ling cod ceviche, butternut squash ravioli bathed in sage pesto and braised short rib on polenta cake topped with orange gremolata. Using poultry from local producer Mary’s Chickens, seven of Epicurean Group’s chefs will prepare different entrées in cook-off fashion. And dessert will be a seasonally decadent chocolate ganache with spiced pumpkin mousse cream.
“Any chef will tell you they’re only as good as the ingredients that they’re using,” Quinn says. “And when those ingredients are coming fresh, it’s going to be really, really tasty. We’re strategically placed in an area still with a lot of farms. And people might not know about them, but that’s the whole point of this dinner: to show people that they’re still alive and thriving.”