A recap of my recent visit to Napa Valley for an organic farm tour with Stonyfield, plus my afternoon with Alice Waters at Berkeley’s Edible Schoolyard.
Last month Stonyfield, one of my nearest and dearest clients, invited me to Napa Valley to spend time with their cofounder and Chief Organic Optimist, Gary Hirshberg. The purpose of the visit was to learn more about organic farming and why sustainability is such a huge part of Stonyfield’s mission. In fact, I invite you to read more about how Stonyfield has been working to protect the environment over the last 35 years.
I’ve known for years that great tasting yogurt is Stonyfield’s top priority but this was an incredible opportunity to spend quality face-time with Gary to hear more about his commitment to saving the planet, one yogurt cup at a time.
For example, you might be surprised to learn that their multipack cups (like those Yo Kids my boys are obsessed with!) are made with plant-based packaging. So not only are you feeding your kids non-GMO, organic yogurt but you can feel good about the fact that the packaging slashes greenhouse gas emissions by 48 percent and helps reduce the total global warming impact of Stonyfield by 9 percent. Pretty neat, right?
Another reason I’ve loved working with Stonyfield over the last 5 years is because they source milk directly from CROPP Cooperative, also known as Organic Valley. The farmer-owned cooperative is made up of more than 1,800 family farm members, many of which are likely in your own backyard. (There is one just 15 miles from my house!)
While we didn’t tour organic dairy farms on this trip, you can learn about organic farming practices on any type of organic farm. Case in point: the first stop on our visit which took place at the private home and farm of Doug Lipton, Owner of Healdsburg SHED. Winner of a 2014 James Beard Award for restaurant design, SHED is a market, café, and community gathering space.
After just one bite of our picnic lunches prepared by SHED, I was sold. Artisan bread, local produce, inventive salads, there’s a reason Northern California always gives me with that tingly, idyllic feeling of paradise. That may also have been the rosé talking…
During our visit, Doug took us over to his composting area to tell us a bit more about the process, how it works, and why it’s so important for the environment. If you’re interested in composting yourself, here’s a great guide on Kitchen Composting Tips: How to Get Started. It’s an extremely effective way to produce less waste as a family.
After our composting demo, Doug invited us all to sample the fresh citrus growing in his garden. You have no idea how happy this Michigan girl gets when she finds herself outside in the middle of February on a 70 degree day eating fresh picked oranges. A far cry from the 10 degree weather I left at home.
The next day we traveled to Berkeley to spend time with Alice Waters. While I doubt she needs any introduction, Alice is a chef, author, food activist, and the founder and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant. A champion of local sustainable agriculture for over four decades, Alice founded the Edible Schoolyard Project in 1995.
The Edible Schoolyard advocates for a free school lunch for all children and a sustainable food curriculum in every public school. Their mission is to build and share a national edible education curriculum for pre-kindergarten through high school. Alice shares the same enthusiasm and passion as Gary does so watching the two of them speak in the same room was truly an experience I’ll never forget.
Lastly, we traveled the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) located at the University of California Santa Cruz.
The mission of the CASFS is to research, develop, and advance sustainable food and agricultural systems that are environmentally sound, economically viable, socially responsible, nonexploitative, and that serve as a foundation for future generations.
Speaking of future generations, it was an honor to chat with these young men who are all studying to work in organic farming when they graduate. The average farmer in America right now is in his mid-fifties and with fewer and fewer children wanting to take over the family farm, and less millennials showing interest in becoming a farmer, it gave me so much hope to meet these young men. Truly, they are the future of our food system.
A huge thank you to Stonyfield for inviting me to California to learn more about organic farming. Whether you work in food for a living like I do, or simply want to learn more about the food you’re eating and preparing for your family, I encourage you to chat with you local farmers or tour a local farm in your area. It’s always a good idea to learn more about where our food comes from and I am truly grateful for this opportunity.
Disclosure: I am honored to be a Stonyfield Brand Ambassador. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Lemon Bowl possible. All thoughts are my own.
Check out my Pinterest board to see more destinations I’ve been to!