Tis the season, folks! Of short days and cold weather and RAIN (YAY)! Of gifts and giving and friends and family (MORE YAYS)! Of spices and pies and sauces and stuffing and stuffing ourselves (THE MOST YAYS)! In the Bay Area we're incredibly lucky to have an abundant late fall and early winter harvest season. The delicious holiday meals we share with our loved ones can be made with the freshest of amazing ingredients, grown, harvested and prepared locally.
Read on to find out more about what this season means for your meals, your landscape, growing edibles, and recipes to warm your belly.
What's being harvested this time of year? Delicious root vegetables, hard squash and citrus, winter greens and mushrooms, cardoons and cabbages, persimmons and pomegranates, olives and nuts and kiwis, oh my!
Check out the San Francisco Local Foods Wheel to find out what's in season... all within about 150 miles of San Francisco, from Sonoma to the Delta, to the upper part of the Central Coast, and, of course, in the Pacific Ocean!
Native Garden Spotlight - Fall & Winter Harvest
Arbutus menziesii - Pacific Madrone
A stunning evergreen with large leathery leaves and striking red bark that peels away to reveal new green bark. Large clusters of white flowers in early spring are followed by red to yellow berries in the fall.
LIGHT: FULL SUN TO PART SHADE
WATER: DROUGHT TOLERANT
COLLECTION: BERRY (FALL), LEAF (ALL SEASONS)
Use Madrone berries as a cranberry substitute for your holiday sauces, instead of raisins in stuffings, or dry and grind them to add to a sweet spice mix. Make a tea with the leaves to fight winter coughs and congestion. In the spring collect the flowers to add to salads and seasonal greens.
Rosa californica - California Wild Rose
California Wild Rose grows naturally in thickets and along stream beds. Fragrant and edible pink summer flowers are followed by bright orange-red rose hips.
SIZE: 3'X6' SREADING
LIGHT: FULL SUN TO PART SHADE
WATER: DROUGHT TOLERANT
ZONE: 5 -10
COLLECTION: FLOWER (SUMMER), HIPS (FALL)
Boil fresh or dried rose hips for 20 minutes to make a tea high in Vitamin C to help fight colds, congestion and coughs. For the more serious DIYer use rose hips and local honey to make home-brewed mead.
Incorporating edibles into your landscape can be done in so many ways, and for so many reasons!
Many people cultivate herbs and veggies in containers or raised beds in their front or back yards. Some choose to integrate food bearing plants with more traditional landscaping. Others strive to maximize their space's capacity and yield by creating entire edible ecosystems. From urban farmers to food forresters to recreational gardeners, we all have our reasons for growing.
IT'S YOUR RIGHT - This September, Governor Jerry Brown signed the Neighborhood Food Act (AB2561) which guarantees tenants' and members of HOAs' rights to grow food for personal consumption.
YOU'RE A FOODIE - Do you love menus with exciting fresh seasonal varieties and ingredients? Grow your own specialty crops like micro-greens and radicchios, baby spinach and arugula, heirloom tomatoes and fresh herbs. Have the ultimate seasonal menu, as local as it gets.
YOU'RE A HEALTH NUT - What better way to make sure you're surrounded with the healthiest food choices than by growing it yourself. The fresher the produce, the more nutrient dense. And if it came from your yard, you know that your food is free of fungicides, pesticides, residues, etc.
TO SAVE WATER - Industrial agriculture uses an incredible amount of our state's water resources. With biointensive gardening techniques like smart irrigation, mulching and composting, you can grow FOUR TIMES as much food with the same amount of water at home.
TO REUSE WATER - Have a bucket in the shower? Water from boiling veggies or pasta? Use it to water your plants! Laundry-to-landscape systems are another great way to water veggie beds, home orchards and berry patches. Check in your water district - some may require permits.
TO SHARE WITH OTHERS - Those lucky enough to have overly abundant harvests can give back to their communities by donating to food banks, participating with Food is Free, or by swapping their harvests with neighbors. LocalCarrot is an app that lets people set up food sharing communities.
POMEGRANATE SALAD - A HEALTHY, SEASONAL FAVORITE
Locally sourced mixed greens (spinach, arugula, radicchio, baby chard and kale, mizuna), fresh, juicy pomegranate seeds, sliced fuyu persimmon, cinnamon candied pecans, several generous chunks of local goat chevre, lovingly tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette and served with a thick, grilled slice of sourdough boule for wiping your plate clean. Hungry yet?
Getting to Know our Employees
A California transplant, Aisha graduated in 2014 from Merritt College with an A.S. in Landscape Architecture. With a previous formal education in graphic design (B.F.A from University of North Texas), years of professional experience as a cook, an enthusiasm for permaculture, sustainability and food sovereignty, edible landscape design is a creative outlet that encompasses many of her interests.
Aisha lives in West Oakland, where she grows food in her backyard garden (including chickens).