Eat Mendocino

2 women, 365 days, 3,878 square miles


Keep your giving as local as it gets on Giving Tuesday!

When our year of eating local ended, it was just the beginning of answering a new question: how could we actually make more local food available to more people? Like, normal people and not just some crazy locavores who would drive 150 miles to pick up duck eggs, oranges, or butter.

Gowan’s answer was to buy a farm with her family in Caspar and grow a bunch of food while sequestering carbon through composting and regenerative grazing. My answer was to start a non-profit organization called Good Farm Fund. I actually didn’t set out to start a non-profit, I just wanted to find a way for people to support local farms directly. From my job managing the Mendocino Farmers Market, I saw firsthand how tight the margins were for farmers, and that they couldn’t afford the most basic infrastructure improvements necessary to grow more food.

I also believed that the community wanted to do more than just shop at the markets or farm stands. People love our local farms, and they provide so much more value than just calories. What was missing was a way to actually invest in them. I had been producing farm-to-table events for a couple years, and I simply wanted to start hosting events to raise money for farms.

The problem was that we needed a bank account to put the money in and some farm-appropriate criteria for funding projects…. Thus, Good Farm Fund was born. We created a volunteer-led organization run by people who had a stake in local farms’ success and created a Farm Grant program that minimized red-tap and maximized the impact to small farms. Grants are awarded based on financial need, and the capacity to increase access to local food for underserved members of our community.

When we announce our 2020 Farm Grant Recipients at the end of this month, we will have awarded $250,000 in grants in six years.

This money has funded infrastructure development on farms throughout Mendocino & Lake Counties. We have funded ranching operations, vegetable producers, grain and bean farmers, bread bakers, and mushroom cultivators. We have financed items as small as hand tools and compost spraying backpacks to tractors, greenhouses, and cold storage buildings. Read more about the projects we have funded at These are some snapshots of past grantees:

These projects have had reverberating impacts in the farming community, often with multiple farms benefiting from shared infrastructure. For example, the cold storage building we funded for New Agrarian Collective has been utilized by neighboring ranches, and provided backup refrigeration for other farms during power outages – and even helped store trees that were being replanted after the Redwood Complex Fire.

When pandemic related food shortages hit this spring, many of the farms we have funded were able to provide critical food relief to hundreds of community members in need. Although we have canceled all events this year due to COVID-19, local farming is more essential than ever, as is continued community support. We are a volunteer led organization and raise all of our money locally, through events and sponsorships.

Usually, in the first week of December we host a fabulous Winter Feast at Barra Vineyards in Redwood Valley (pictures from the 2018 event below). This is one of our two major annual fundraisers, and we really miss coming together with many of you to celebrate and eat!

Instead, we invite you to chose a cause very local to your plate and make a gift to Good Farm Fund this #GivingTuesday. A gift to Good Farm Fund is a thank you to local farms, and an investment in a more sustainable, resilient, and delicious community!

Join us by making a gift today, and sign up for our e-newsletter at & follow us on Facebook & Instagram.

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Eat Mendocino launches Kickstarter campaign to help us write a book!

A couple of weeks ago we shared some big news. That within our mighty little hearts was a book that needed to be written. And now, we invite you to help us make that happen.

We’ve said all the important stuff in this video, and in the project description: what we plan to do, how we plan to do it, and why we feel we owe it to the world to make this happen. Plus, the cool rewards you’ll get for supporting this project.

We ate local food for 365 days. Now we have 16 days to raise $5,000. I posted the video on Facebook this evening and we have already raised $340 from 9 backers and it’s not even midnight. My heart is swelling up.

This fundraising campaign is short and straight-shooting, ending on Valentine’s Day because it’s my favorite holiday (if you’ve been following us since last February you know I love any excuse to wear hearts), and I really see this book as a love letter to local food, from all of us.

The way that Kickstarter works is that you only get the money if you meet your fundraising goal, so know that every dollar counts; it all adds up. Watch the video, spread the word, and be our valentine!

Click here to visit our Kickstarter project page and donate.

A giant thank you to our wonderful friend Mischa Hedges of TrimTab Media for making this lovely video in record time and doing his best to make me seem charismatic in the morning, with a script that I could not memorize even though I wrote it. Ha!

Thanks for all your support in helping us “barnraise” this book!


What my freezer looks like with 12 days to go

While most people are baking sugar cookies and singing the Twelve Days of Christmas, I am now facing the unbelievable reality that we are only twelve days away from the end of this indescribable year. Twelve. Less than two weeks to go. The thought of it is surreal. I can only wrap my mind around what is what is right in front of me, and what I’ll be eating next (which I guess is how we’ve made it this far). While staring into my freezer today, I realized that this is the well-stocked freezer of a locavore who knows what she’s doing, in stark contrast to what it held one year ago when we were about to learn what it meant to be hungry in the middle of the winter.

In preparation for the Christmas break, I spent the day wrapping up some projects for work, hastily doing my taxes so that I can apply for Obamacare, and doing various food projects. Like devouring this rockin’ quesadilla…

Homemade tortilla with flour from the Mendocino Grain Project and fresh mozzarella cheese

Dehydrating a bunch of Hachiya persimmons…


And, making a batch of sea salt. This jar is Gowan’s Christmas present!

sea salt

While we only have a couple weeks left (and trust me, I’m really looking forward to relaxing my life a bit when this is “over”), it’s not really about the countdown. I could survive on what’s in my cupboard and refrigerator for months. I don’t need to keep processing and putting away food. But, that is not the point. This project is as infinite as nature. It’s not really ending and it never will; the seasons will continue to cycle and the rhythm of this new food lifestyle will continue as naturally as the wind blows. I like this rhythm, no I really, really love it, and I want to follow it to the best of my ability always.

So, back to the freezer. If my kitchen were any smaller it couldn’t even be called a kitchen. But, I do have a pretty standard-sized freezer and it is completely stacked with food collected over the last twelve months. Here’s what it holds today…

Freezer Inventory:

Beef marrow bones from Magruder Ranch
The BEST peaches I’ve ever had
Salmon Steak from Noyo Fish Company
Three pork chops
A pig heart and other organ meat
Bone broth made from beef marrow bones and crab shells
Meyer lemon juice frozen in ice cube trays
Brown rice from Massa Organics at the Chico Farmers’ Market
Raw butter
Squid bait for fishing
Spicy tomato sauce
Yellow plum jam
Bean soup
Ice packs for my trusty cooler
The bowl for the ice cream maker (it’s important to always have this in the freezer in case you have a sudden need for ice cream)
Plus, a plastic bag filled with compost. Yes I keep my compost in the freezer until I dump it. It helps mitigate funky kitchen smell and flies when you cook as much as I do. Feel free to borrow this trick.

Quite a list, eh? I even impressed myself by digging out things I’d forgotten about! Two indisputable lessons from living the local life: nothing is more comforting than full cupboards and nothing is sweeter than a perfectly ripe persimmon. I am an extremely fortunate girl and I might even have subsidized health care soon, too.


7 ways to access affordable fresh food in Mendocino County (and why the SF Chronicle article is dead wrong)

It would be advisable that a reporter who is writing an article about Mendocino County actually set foot in Mendocino County before drawing sweeping conclusions about the economy, culture and landscape of this place.

The San Francisco Chronicle published an atrocious article titled “In Mendocino County Fresh Affordable Food is Hard to Find,” which I found so upsetting that I canceled a trip to lay in the sun on the banks of the Navarro River this afternoon in order to respond immediately. Instead, I am sitting here with the heater on, wearing a down vest, typing furiously. In the words of the ever discerning Gowan, this article is “classist, ignorant and offensive.” Here’s one excerpt:

“Their drives sound extreme, but Mendocino County, for all its natural beauty, is actually a difficult place to be healthy. To name a few examples, it has rugged, unwalkable terrain, more fast-food joints than grocery stores, and high rates of premorbidity, obesity and coronary heart disease.” – Stephanie Lee, SF Gate

First of all, if it takes someone 8 hours to do the 140 mile round trip drive from Gualala to Santa Rosa, they stopped at too many wineries along the way. I realize she’s probably accounting for shopping time, but this line alone would discourage anyone from ever wanting to visit our neck of the woods. If Stephanie M. Lee had been to Mendocino County, she would discover that we do in fact have paved streets, and side walks, extremely fresh air, and tons of active, fit and healthy residents. Where the pavement ends, there are numerous hiking and biking trails, rivers and lakes for kayaking, oceans for surfing and diving.

But, what gets me most is what she said about food. In most cities and towns in Mendocino County, you actually have a hard time finding a fast-food joint. What you would find instead is a community that has, by large, resisted chains of any kind and is fueled by many innovative small businesses including locally owned grocery-stores, co-ops and collectives and farm stands, with a dedication to a high quality of life and well-being.

Mendocino County Line

I love living in Mendocino County and I will be the first to admit that there are segments of this community that are seriously economically depressed.

I have struggled with this myself; the job market is very limited, and the cost of living is high. Poverty, hunger, malnutrition and obesity exist in Mendocino County, as well as depression, alcoholism, drug use and all the other problems that plague everywhere USA. And, yet, this is only one part of the picture. It is dangerous, and bad journalism, to speak to only one family in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s and make a few phone calls and surmise conclusions about the entirety of Mendocino County.

These obstacles are real, and yet, there are also many opportunities for people to access fresh, affordable and healthy food.

Gowan and I are living examples of this; we have eaten only the freshest local food, every single day for the last seven and a half months, on very limited budgets. We recognize that we have a lot of things working in our favor. We are two educated, middle class white girls, without any children or severe disabilities. Gowan has access to land where she can produce a lot of the food that we depend on. We know a lot of farmers and producers who are willing to barter, or give us food when they have abundance. Our project has become high profile, and strangers often appear with gifts of food or salt or just encouragement (which also really matters). We are very, very fortunate. And we are resourceful as hell and just as stubborn, too. So, we have been able to make this work on an extreme level.

All of this said, there are many ways that affordable, fresh food is accessible for everyone. Here are seven, to start:

1. Mendocino County is on the forefront of the Farm-to-School movement

Noyo Food Forest, located in Fort Bragg, CA, is a groundbreaking non-profit farm education program. They have built Fort Bragg’s community garden in Noyo Harbor, as well as ensured that there is a school garden at every school in Fort Bragg. At their two-acre flagship mini-farm, The Learning Garden, high school interns and community volunteers help grow food that goes directly into all four school cafeterias, feeding incredibly fresh, nutrient dense organic produce to a population where almost 70% of students are from a low income home. The farm also grows food for several of the best restaurants in town, several catering companies, and has a summer booth at Fort Bragg Farmer’s Market and a winter booth at the Caspar Community Center’s winter market. Their model of Farm-at-School is so innovative that Eco City Berkeley came and toured our gardens and interviewed the staff because they wanted to start a farm-to-school program in Oakland and NFF was the closest program they could find to what they wanted to create. Our school lunches are beautiful, vibrant, and fresh, as good as anything you’d find in a restaurant, and we are raising a community of children who are not only kale eaters, but garden lovers.

Gowan is the farm manager at the Noyo Food Forest and is pictured above teaching interns about worm composting.

2. Mendocino County Farmers Markets accept EBT/Food Stamps and WIC Coupons

Shopping at the Ukiah Farmers' Market

In order to make the farmers’ markets more accessible to all, EBT Cards (Food Stamps) are accepted at all of the Mendocino County Certified Farmers’ Markets, located in Fort Bragg, Mendocino, Boonville, Ukiah, Redwood Valley, Willits and Laytonville. At some of these markets, EBT cardholders can benefit from Food Stamp Matching program where their food stamps are matched with grant funds or community donations, so they can receive an additional dollar for every EBT dollar they spend.

3. Community Gardens feed many families in Mendocino County

State Street Community Garden in Ukiah

There is a vast network of community gardens throughout Mendocino County, coordinated by organizations such as the Gardens Project, the Noyo Food Forest, and many smaller neighborhood-based groups. These gardens provide affordable growing space to local gardeners and families, allowing them to grow their own food in a community setting with established infrastructure such as fencing, soil, seeds and irrigation. Community gardeners also have access to  training and knowledge-sharing and this is a fantastic way to learn about growing food if you are a beginner.

4. Food Banks distribute fresh local food

Fort Bragg Food Bank

The local food banks receive plentiful donations of fresh produce from many local farms and gardens and grocery stores, which are freely available to clients.

5. Farmer CSA accepts EBT/Food Stamps

Live Power Community Farm CSA

Live Power Community Farm is an awesome 40-acre, solar electric and horse-powered, certified Biodynamic farm located in Covelo. Their Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) Program  allows consumers to invest in the farm by pledging financial support of the farm at the beginning of the growing season, and then they receive a box of farm-fresh goods every week throughout the season. They accept EBT cards (which are automatically billed monthly) to help make their fresh, high-quality produce accessible to all.

6. Nutrition education teaches students and parents about healthy eating

North Coast Opportunities and the Gardens Project, headquartered in Ukiah, run a variety of programs to support nutrition education and healthy eating. Visit the Gardens Project website for more information about these programs and others.

Fresh from the Start: Teens learn about nutrition and cooking

The Fresh from the Start Program is a nutrition and cooking class for the teen parents of Ukiah High School’s Young Parent Program.  Fresh from the Start aims to help teen parents make healthy choices for themselves and their families.  The program focuses on mother/adult nutrition, as well as infant and child nutrition, giving teen parents a well rounded understanding of their family’s health.

B.E.A.N.S (Better Eating, Activity and Nutrition for Students) is a program for high school students interested in cooking, healthy food, teaching and learning to become Teen Nutrition Advocates in Willits, Ukiah and Fort Bragg. This program trains teens as peer educators.  Teens learn cooking skills, nutrition basics and gardening, then teach weekly classes to elementary, middle and high school students.

7. Mendocino County is a wonderful place to forage from the land and the sea

Wild Mushrooms

Our “un-walkable” rugged landscape is full of bounty, which is in many cases free for the taking. We forage many pounds of wild mushrooms and seaweed, collect bushels full of berries and tree fruit, and for only the cost of the license you can fish or dive for abalone or catch crab. Living in this county means living much closer to the land and all of its abundance.

Healthy Food = Healthy People

The only thing I can get behind in this article is the recognition that improved access to healthy food is essential for addressing health problems.

In Mendocino County, officials are using the money from the five-year grant to start healthy living programs, encourage locals to stop drinking soda and to walk more, and ban smoking from apartment complexes.

In the full-length version of the SF Chronicle Article, she discusses some of the County-funded and community-based programs that focus on prevention through healthy eating and other lifestyle habits. After painting a pretty gnarly and inaccurate picture of the County, she discusses some of the active programs that are trying to reverse some of the food and health issues in our community. This article could have been framed much differently, even titled, “Programs address obstacles to healthy food in Mendocino County.” Yeah, that’s quite a different, and far more productive, story – especially if the goal is to help more people find access to healthy options.


Food vs. “food”

It is also flawed to be drawing comparisons about processed food when making claims about healthy, fresh food. This Trader Joe’s shopping cart is filled with pre-made enchiladas and frozen waffles. This is not healthy, fresh food. And the produce buried underneath is arguably “fresh” – Trader Joe’s like most stores sources produce from all over the world, and by the time it gets to the shelf, it is far from fresh and wrapped in many layers of plastic, but that’s another story. While certain things are cheaper when purchased from chain stores (due to the simple economics of scale) often there is a perceived savings because certain items are cheaper, whereas others may be quite comparable to what is available locally. Most people don’t buy whole foods when they stock up at TJ’s or Costco – they tend to purchase cases of non-perishable processed foods. This more-for-less mentality has nothing to do with health and nutrition.

We cannot compare frozen waffles or cartons of chicken broth to a shopping list made up of whole foods. Yes, it takes more work and time, but it is often cheaper (and always healthier) when you buy whole ingredients and cook from scratch. This is one of the things that has made the biggest difference in our diets this year.  You can’t compare Top Ramen to the price of potatoes; one is food and one is empty calories. And, we understand that there are times when the only thing a person can afford is Top Ramen. But, fortunately there are other options, such as the Food Bank or the opportunity to volunteer in community gardens in exchange for fresh produce.

The cost of healthy eating

When people ask if our local food diet has been more expensive, they are often surprised when we say, “no.” Imagine never going out to eat, cutting out all processed and prepared foods, and eliminating your daily latte. We purchase only whole foods, often in bulk quantities, usually direct from the grower/producer. This cuts out an incredible amount of the cost. And if we want waffles, we use the freshest locally milled flour to make them. The price per gallon of milk or per pound of butter is significantly higher than what people would pay at Safeway or Costco, but the quality is unparalleled, and you make up for that cost by not purchasing a lot of incidental, non-essential food items. Our budgets have been trimmed by eliminating crap from our diets. We understand the austerity of making these changes might be a shock to many peoples’ lives, but you cannot argue with the fact that it is both economical AND healthier to shop and eat in this manner.

The real problems in our food system

I need to emphasize that this is about a lot more than personal responsibility. We need to address the broader injustice of the industrial food system, government subsidies for commodity crops, GMOs and the rising price of petroleum. ALL of these factors contribute to a more comprehensive picture of the real challenges to the food system and affect every single family in this country (rather than single out one County as a hotbed of problems). The statistics about health issues are not the problems themselves, but the symptoms of the deeper imbalances in the food system.

Furthermore, we cannot have a real conversation about the economics of Mendocino County without discussing marijuana, and the impact of the pot industry on real estate, housing and the cost of doing business.

There are many problems facing our community; some are unique, and others mirror the issues we see across America. The best way to deal with many of these challenges is to pursue viable local solutions, such as the seven listed above. I love this place, for all its beauty, and all its troubles. I am proud to live in Mendocino County and to work alongside so many people who are dedicated to building a vibrant and just food system. And, I would like this reality not to be our best kept secret.

Stephanie, if you want to see what’s really happening in the food system here, you’ll have to look deeper, and beyond federally-funded grant programs. I’m pretty sure it was Einstein who said problems are never solved by the same thinking that created them. Certainly, these programs are a critical link in identifying and addressing the problem, but they cannot be observed by looking at a map and a few statistics. Change is happening through a broad network of initiatives which include both the public and private sector in establishing a new food future in our community. Let us know if you want to tell the true story of Mendocino County, we’d be happy to give you a tour of some of the most exciting and transformational food system projects underway here. You’ll need to wear closed-toed shoes, you might get a little dirty.


Six months of eating local in Mendocino County

I was at a potluck a few weeks ago and a friend told me about the “daily report” that her grandmother emails to the whole family every so that they know she’s alive and well. She is aging and lives alone, so it’s a practical way to keep the family from worrying. It has also turned into an amusing and revealing correspondence that has captured precious family history and deepened their knowledge of her.

I bring this up because I realize many of you may not actually have evidence of our being alive, unless you’re following us on Facebook, or if you saw our smiling faces on the front page of the local paper this week. Otherwise I know I haven’t blogged in over a month, but let me assure you that our hearts beat strongly on the eve of our halfway point for this endeavor. In fact, Gowan had a physical exam at the doctor recently and we can officially report that she is in optimum health. I am recovering quite well from the car accident and we know we owe much to the power of local food. The baby goats are healthy and growing very quickly, too!

Eat Mendocino girls

As of tonight, we are exactly halfway into this yearlong adventure, and I really can’t believe it has gone so fast. One one hand, it’s impossible to summarize this experience when people ask us, “What has it been like?” But, there are certainly strong themes that have pronounced themselves. Here’s one way to break down what we learned during the first six months of eating local in Mendocino County.

Six-Month Redux: Key lessons
Month 1:  The importance of fat and potatoes.

Month 2:  Pie is a psychological necessity.

Month 3:  It doesn’t work to eat slow food, but drive too fast.

Month 4:  Life is better with ice cream.

Month 5:  It is hard to date a locavore.

Month 6: Summer also has its perils; such eating way too much stone fruit.

Looking toward month seven, I am inspired by my friend’s grandmother to make a new commitment to this project. It’s not enough for you to merely know that we are alive; the real lesson from the daily report is that much is lost by the lack of corresponding regularly. Even in the digital world where we are communicating with our various devices all the time, some of the most important conversations are never part of our daily lives – we wait for the big events or bad news to be in touch.

Our blog is meant to be a window into what it takes to start getting more intimate with your food, and to do that, we must actually show you how we make it all happen, day in and day out. In general the diet has become easier as the months get warmer, but there are new lessons, thoughts, recipes, victories and frustrations each and every day, and they need to be shared. So, I have decided to blog every single day in the month of July. I know myself, and it will be much easier for me stick with my commitment if it’s extreme (thus this entire undertaking!). Plus, eating is so much easier at this time of year, so I can spend less time hunting for food and more time with the keyboard. So, get ready for the “Eat Mendocino Daily Report.” I will only excuse myself from my daily writing regimen if my sister-wife wants to blog. I’ll see you here tomorrow. 🙂

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morning of our Farm to Table Dinner

This evening we’re feeding dinner to the community. We hope you’re coming!

Today will be a lot of rushing around, coordinating harvesting, picking flowers, laying out the jewelry I’ve been making, and watching our beloved chef Matt glide around unconcernedly deciding what he’s going to make out of the mountain of local food we’re assembling.


You guys, we have amazing local food. Look at that cheese!

0402131008I’ll be bringing my greens mix some of you might remember from the Caspar market- the above is my saved seed strain of purple orach, with a couple of our Americorp volunteers who will be joining us at the dinner.


Baby greens are ready to be picked, hens have been hard at work laying, goats have been milked in the cold spring mornings, our local farmers have joined together to share what they create so that we can all have dinner, 100% Mendocino county in origin.

I have to go rush around now, hope to see you later. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, there will be some for sale at the door, and the dinner is at the Caspar Community Center tonight at 6:30 p.m.





We are approaching the two week mark of eating, drinking and breathing local, and we are very much alive and well-fed. Please don’t think that we have forgotten about our dear readers/followers/skeptics during the kickoff of the big project. We think of you often. The days are just packed; we are in a constant flow of finding and processing food, cooking, cleaning up and doing it all again. Time is marked by the movement and consumption of food, and somehow everything else has to fit in around it. It can be very difficult to formulate complete sentences at the end of the day.

The topic of resolutions is ripe at this time of year. Some may consider this project the ultimate New Year’s Resolution. I don’t see it that way. Probably because I think that most NY Resolutions fail. Also, because this is so much bigger than a single action or intention. It’s nothing less than a New Way of Life. In the last two weeks, I have identified many sub-projects that require much resolve and will be essential to the success of this wild endeavor. I am sure this list will keep growing.

  • Project find local food: This is particularly challenging in the middle of winter and requires much resourcefulness and networking and sometimes requires emergency 300 mile treks for a dozen duck eggs. We are getting better at this every day and with the help of many friends, local food is also finding us.
  • Project endless dishwashing: Every meal renders my tiny kitchen basically unusable. In less than 2 weeks I have completely conquered my dishwashing allergy, with the help of iTunes shuffle on max volume. My friends do not recognize my kitchen.
  • Project cook every day: Preparing everything from scratch is one of the biggest changes – nothing comes from a package, can or box. And there is no such thing as “eating out.” I now travel with a cooler, a mobile pantry and a sharp knife. Huge perk: leftovers. veggiestirfry
  • Project forage/wildcraft: Food is all around us and we have so much to learn about identifying and harvesting wild edibles.
  • Project don’t be a hermit: I could blame it on winter hibernation, but I tend to like having space and time alone. This project has thrust us out in the world, needing to make new connections, spend time getting to know others. We are going to make a lot of new friends.
  • Project think ahead: We have to know what the next meal will be before we get hungry. My new favorite appliance is the crock pot.
  • Project ask for help: Often. We are entering foreign realms like how to cook parts of animals we’ve never seen before and how to cook with seawater. We Google things every day. And we are going to be calling our moms a lot. We will also surely ask for your help. We are already humbled by the gifts and kind gestures we have received.
  • Project learn how to do a bunch of new (sometimes scary) stuff: Like fishing, kayaking, and killing animals.
  • Project inconvenient: This project defies the American standard of convenience, ease and efficiency – and it’s a daily challenge. We must do it every single day even when we’re tired, stressed, heartbroken, menstruating or just don’t want to. Another reason why not being a hermit is good – it’s really nice to cook and eat with others on the days where you are the little engine that cannot.
  • Project diversify: Variety is essential in terms of what we’re eating, and where we can get it. Food fatigue has already set in and we must keep the colors and flavors of our meals varied. This is a challenge in the middle of winter with limited options, but we are getting creative. And we are especially grateful for the farmers’ markets and grocery stores that source local products.
  • Project carb load: Within the first week I had begun to drop weight. Getting plenty of protein, veggies and nutrients, but I had to increase the mashed potatoes ratio in my diet. No complaints about that – especially when swimming in fresh milk, butter and sea salt.
  • Project ‘This might be totally gross’: gourmetlunchI started this guerrilla cooking “show” years ago with my roommate when we went gluten-free. Now we’re taking it to a whole new level. Sometimes it really is (of note, a particularly bland Soviet-style cabbage potato soup in Week 1), and you eat it anyway. Sometimes is is also totally delicious – like yesterday’s gourmet afternoon meal of seared lamb cheeks with fava bean hummus, goat brie and arugula. Best meal of the year so far!
  • Project increase access to local food: This has become a primary goal of mine. So many people are amazed when we tell them how many products are available locally – if you know where to find them. I hope that we can help connect the dots and improve access to local food so that more people can do what we’re doing with greater ease and convenience.

And, finally, Project WRITE. Sharing our experience is just as important to us as doing it. Last night, we set a new resolution: we will each be blogging 2-3 times a week for the rest of the year. We are truly excited that our blog already has a following, and we look forward to having you along on this journey.

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The Big Idea

Two days ago, Gowan stopped by my house to pick up my lemon tree to keep it safe from the winter frost. She mentioned that it was only a couple of weeks away from the New Year – a year of eating local. I said, “Oh, are you still doing that?” She replied, “I want to.”  In the midst of baking chocolate brownies, I said, almost automatically,

“Maybe I should do it with you.”

One day later, my head is exploding with how this experiment in eating locally could connect so many of the dots that we’ve been working on for a long time, and bring the conversation about local food in Mendocino County to the next level. By the time we speak that afternoon, I have brainstormed a full media plan and I am already starting to think about what I won’t be able to eat. We talk. We talk some more. She likes my ideas, I love hers. She’s a farmer and an artist and I am an idea mill, connector and media lover. This could be big. It will be big, based on the feat alone. Perhaps it could also be big for other people, and makes some big things happen here in Mendocino County. I’m in.

As soon as I get off the phone, I go for a walk and head directly to Frankie’s Ice Cream Ice Creamfor a scoop of Candy Cap Mushroom goodness.  Because now that it’s real, I will start doing all of the things that I won’t be able to do in less than two weeks (the mushrooms are local and so is the milk, and it’s made locally, but… it’s not 100% local). I take my ice cream and head toward the beach. Along the way, a homeless guy shouts from the bus stop, “Has anyone told you that you’re beautiful today?” Nope. “Well, you are.” I take this as a good sign. Compliments from strangers are always a good sign. It’s way too cold for ice cream and I can hardly taste it, but I am really happy. Walking along the headlands, with the winter waves crashing against the rocks I am feeling this great convergence.

Anything is possible here. I have always believed that. This project (yet to be named) would be living, vibrant proof of the abundance that exists in the world. I am liking what this will look like – how the days will be spent, the people that will be involved, and – yes – the food that will be eaten. As I head home, I pick some Portuguese kale that grows wild on the headlands – it’s time to start.

In some ways this will be life as usual, and it will also involve some major changes. This excites me, and I spread my arms out like wings, walking into the chill wind. Also, I’m not at all worried about the ice cream, we can make as much of that as we want.