Category Archives: Press Room

Press releases and media stories about PCFMA’s farmers’ markets.

Asian Citrus Psyllid Detected in San Jose

Leaf damage from Psyllid

The time for citrus is coming soon. The winter months provide us with local oranges and tangerines and more, but the crop could be in jeopardy with the significant finding of the citrus psyllid in Santa Clara County.

The Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is beginning an extensive survey in response to the detection of Asian citrus psyllids (ACP) in the City of San Jose near Kelly Park.  This is the first detection of ACP in Santa Clara County and the Bay Area.

The ACP were detected in a residential neighborhood near Phelan Avenue and Roberts Avenue in San Jose. Treatment activities will be carried out on all citrus plants surrounding the sites where the insects were trapped.  Residents in the treatment area will be notified in advance of any activity.  Additionally, an increased number of traps have been deployed and a visual survey is ongoing on the surrounding properties in an attempt to determine if there is an infestation.

“The Asian citrus psyllid is a dangerous pest of citrus,” said Joe Deviney, Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner.  “We’re working to determine the full extent of this infestation so that we can protect our state’s vital citrus industry as well as our backyard citrus trees.  We want to emphasize citrus is safe to eat and the disease is not harmful to human health.  Working together we can prevent the harm this invasive species can cause.”

Adult citrus psyllid

The ACP is an invasive species of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening.  All citrus and closely related species are susceptible hosts for both the insect and the disease.  There is no cure once a tree becomes infected, the diseased tree will decline in health and produce bitter, misshaped fruit until it dies. HLB has been detected just once in California – in 2012 on a single residential property in Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County. HLB is present in Mexico and in parts of the southern U.S.  Florida first detected ACP in 1998 and the disease in 2005, and the two have now been detected in all 30 citrus-producing counties in that state.  The University of Florida estimates the disease has tallied more than 6,600 lost jobs, $1.3 billion in lost revenue to growers and $3.6 billion in lost economic activity.

Check your trees at home and be vigilant in letting the CDFA know if you have spotted what you think is the citrus psyllid. Check with your local Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County. Residents in the area who think they may have seen the pest are urged to call the Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.  For more information on the Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing disease, please visit: www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/acp

Seasonal Supper: Field to Fork

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Share an intimate evening with local farmers while you enjoy multiple courses highlighting the food they grow. The Seasonal Supper will be a true Field to Fork event hosted by the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association at Hap Magee Ranch in Danville.

Each course, delicately crafted by Chef Mario Hernandez, will feature the seasonal harvest from Tomatero Farm, Frog Hollow Farm, Happy Acre Farm and more producers from the Danville Farmers’ Market. Glennhawk Vineyards will be generously providing tastings and menu pairings of their wine selection, grown right here in Danville, adding to this truly local experience.

Participating Danville Farmers’ Market Farms and Producers:
Achadinha Cheese Co.
CMC Farms
Frog Hollow Farm
Glennhawk Vineyards
Happy Acre Farm
Prather Ranch
Sunrise Nursery
Tomatero Organic Farm

Enjoy farm-fresh food, live music, fine local wine, and a raffle benefiting nutritional education programs for low-income families of the Bay Area made possible by our sister organization, Fresh Approach.

Proceeds from this event will go to Fresh Approach programming and support the participating farms. Extra donations are gladly accepted. Many thanks to Glennhawk Vineyards for sponsoring this event.

All of your donations will support Fresh Approach and their efforts to increase healthy food access in the Bay Area.

Tickets are limited! They are available now at the Danville Farmers’ Market or at Brown Paper Tickets. Check with the market manager for details.

PCFMA Celebrates National Farmers’ Market Week With 2nd Annual “Love My Market” Photo Contest

Love-My-market-posterJoin Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA) in celebrating National Farmers’ Market Week this year from August 3rd to 9th. PCFMA joins the USDA and farmers’ markets around the country in celebrating the first week of August. “Farmers markets are an important public face for agriculture and a critical part of our nation’s food system,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “They provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also help fill a growing consumer demand for fresh, healthy foods.”

PCFMA will celebrate throughout the entire month of August with the 2nd annual “Love My Market” photo contest. To participate, snap a photo of what you love about YOUR local farmers’ market whether it’s the unusual produce, your favorite farmer, being with your family or anything else farmers’ market related. Submit the photo to lovemymarket@pcfma.com OR post the photo on Instagram with the hashtag #lovemyPCFMAmarket between August 1st and August 31st. Please limit ONE ENTRY per person. See official rules at http://www.pcfma.com/lovemymarket . Please also include the name of your farmers’ market in your caption or email.

Contestants will have a chance to win the Grand Prize of a one night stay for two at the Capay Valley Bed & Breakfast and tickets to the nearby Hoes Down Festival at Full Belly Farm. Second place prize will be two tickets to the Farm to Fork Dinner presented by CAFF at the Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill. Third prizes include “Carrot Cash” (which is good at any farmers’ market that PCFMA operates) and a reusable bag filled with fresh seasonal produce.

Composting & the PCFMA Garden

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The PCFMA Office Garden is growing!

We are completing work on another planting area around the south corner of the office. Matt Sylvester, market manager and head PCFMA gardener extraordinaire, and other staff members, have planted various tasty summer veggies like zucchini and other summer squash, tomatoes, fresh herbs, sunflowers, and peppers for our  culinary enjoyment. We await the first tomatoes and watch as squash blossoms slowly grow into zucchini. How cool is it to walk out the office door and pick something fresh for our lunch!? So go ahead – start your own small garden! It’s well worth it!

We began composting as well! The inspiration for the bin arose partly from necessity. We don’t have green bins in Contra Costa County and at the office we have a lot of food scraps. We  also wanted compost we could use on our kitchen garden. PCFMA is a certified green business and the staff here cares about being more eco-friendly, so Sara Haston, Market Chef and DSC_0021Creative Specialist for Cookin’ The Market, thoughtfully wrote up a proposal and was quickly approved to purchase one. After she chose the best one for PCFMA, she found a space for it, and discussed with the staff about how to use it.

Thus far there has been a tremendous interest in it. Sara’s role is to manage the contents to make sure there is a proper ratio of nitrogen elements (think food scraps) to carbon (think leaves, hay and dry plant matter): 1/3 to 2/3. Once it is almost full she will let it sit for a few weeks without adding anymore materials, turn it once a week to aerate it, wait for it to breakdown into usable compost, and then shovel it out into our garden. This Sara’s first time using a bin, as her experience has been with pile composting, so we excited about what we will all learn along the way.

 

New Honey Labeling Rules Proposed by the FDA

Penrod honey
Penrod Farms, Camino

On April 8, 2014 the FDA set new draft guidelines for what can be called pure honey. In the past some of the honey on store shelves, either US-made or imported, did not have to have labeling that indicated anything other than that honey was in their product. Now honey would be labeled as having added sweeteners such as sugar, corn syrup, or other additions if these ingredients are used. It must also say that it is a “honey blend” and not pure honey. The Food and Drug Administration also says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. However, the FDA isn’t checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.

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Marshall’s Farm Natural Honey, American Canyon

The proposal’s aim is “to advise the regulated food industry on the proper labeling of honey and honey products to help ensure that honey and honey products are not adulterated or mis-branded,” the FDA wrote.

It is estimated that the U.S. imports the majority of the 400 million pounds of honey we consume each year. To meet this demand there were concerns that cheap substitutes are being manufactured. Only 149 million pounds of honey were produced in this country last year, so the difference had to be made up somewhere.

The FDA decided to look at the question of adulterated honey after a petition from the American Beekeeping Federation and other groups asked for a standard definition of honey to promote fair trade. The agency did not agree on the fair trade issue, but decided to review labeling.

Honey makers now have 60 days to comment on the proposal before the final rules are issued. And even then, the guidelines aren’t mandatory. It only allows for the FDA to make an official statement on the matter.

If you are concerned about what you’re getting in your honey and want to avoid corn syrup and other sweeteners, look no further than local honey producers who offer pure sweet honey from local sources. Visit your farmers’ market and talk with your local beekeepers to find out how they produce their honey.

Read details on the FDA’s new honey regulations here.

Click here to find out more about filtered and adulterated honey and find out what you’re really buying at the grocery store.

The Drought and Our Farmers

From John Silveira, PCFMA Director:

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California almond trees left to die because there is no water for irrigation.

The potential implications of a sustained drought on our state’s farmers and our state’s economy are very worrisome. At the end of February, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story headlined “California Almond Farmers Face Tough Choices,” which addressed the impact of the drought on just one sector of the farming community – almond farmers. The article profiled farmers who are choosing to remove mature, productive almond trees because they don’t have enough water to maintain them. To get additional perspective on this issue, we turned to Les Portello, a founding member of the PCFMA Board of Directors who, after retiring from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, had a successful career as an almond farmer.

Les explained that almond trees must either be provided with sufficient water to remain healthy, or be removed. Trees that are not provided with enough water develop pests that can spread even to healthy, irrigated trees in the orchard. The decision to remove trees is serious as it creates long term financial implications for the farm. Once the drought has ended and an almond farmer decides to replant trees, it will be many years before the harvests from the new trees are equal to that of the mature trees that were removed. Les said that advances in soil and plant science allow new trees to begin producing two to three years after being planted, where it used to take five years to collect a harvest from a new tree. However, even with these scientific advances, it will take seven to eight years for these new trees to fully develop. That means these farmers, even if the drought were to end next winter, will be feeling the economic impacts past the year 2020.

Les also mentioned that the issue for farmers is not just the amount of water that is available, but the quality of the water. Some farms are able to use wells to extract water from underground aquifers, but the high salt content of the water that is pumped up is harmful to salt-sensitive crops like almonds. The water delivery systems that have been built to move water throughout our state’s agricultural regions are important not just for the quantity of the water that they deliver, but also for the water’s quality.

The family farmers that sell in PCFMA’s farmers’ markets are facing these kinds of decisions about their future every day, basing their decisions on factors of water and weather that they cannot control or predict. As someone who enjoys the fruits of their labor, it is important to me that they have the water they need to grow the crops which help feed our families and our communities. And it is important that Bay Area communities have sufficient water to be able to remain economically vibrant so its residents can continue to purchase locally grown fruits, vegetables and nuts.

There are no easy answers to the state’s water issues, but until the drought breaks, I hope we can all do our part to share this precious resource.

 

Are you getting REAL olive oil?

olio bello d'olivo olivesFood fraud is an ever-growing problem in the US. And olive oil is at the top of the list. A 2011 study of extra virgin olive oil by the Olive Center at the University of California at Davis found that 73% of the five best-selling imported brands failed to meet the standards of taste and smell established for that grade of olive oil set by European regulators.* Some olive oil that claims to be from Italy or Spain is actually brought from other countries and re-exported from there. Olive oil may be diluted with other oils like soybean or vegetable oil, or fabricated entirely from a cheaper oil doctored to look like olive oil. The “extra virgin” label does not pass the test, either. Over 69% of bottles labeled “extra virgin olive oil” were not extra virgin.

So you’re not getting what you pay for! You’re not getting the quality OR the heart-healthy benefits associated with extra virgin olive oil!

hillcrest_ranchsunol1On October 25, 2011 the United States adopted new olive oil standards, a revision of those that have been in place since 1948, which affect importers and domestic growers and producers by ensuring conformity. In the California certification program, California producers submit their olive oil for sensory evaluation, where a panel of certified tasters conducts a blind tasting, and chemical analysis, rigorous lab testing to confirm acidity levels and other aspects of the oil are on target. If the oil passes certification the producers earn the right to display the COOC seal. Purchasing olive oil with the COOC means you are buying fresh, California grown, 100% extra virgin olive oil.

The olive oil sold at your local farmers’ market can be counted on to give you the highest quality and the best flavor of locally-made California olive oil. If you choose to try Italian or Spanish oils – or any other country’s olive oil – make sure you read the fine print on the label carefully!

Visit the UC Davis Olive Center for interesting articles on California olive oil and on the 2011 study.

Click here for a list of some of PCFMA’s olive oil producers at the markets.

 

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Future of Eating Local

The rise of farmers’ markets and the local food movement has created a dramatic shift in American tastes. Consumers increasingly are seeking out the seasonal fresh foods grown on local farms rather than those trucked to supermarkets from a thousand miles away. And these are just J & M Ibarra Farm--Ordway 2012 Aug 22ordinary people who have become informed about their food choices and care about small farmers. Local food integrates production, processing, distribution and consumption on a small scale, creating sustainable local economies and a strong connection between farm and table.

The result of all this local eating has gradually increased the number of small farms, which were declining for more than a century! Once, the average age of a farmer was 60 years old! Children did not want to take over the farm from parents, but now small farms have increased by 20% over the last 15 to 20 years!

Heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables have been rediscovered and are very popular at farmers’ markets and specialty stores because of their amazing flavor. Grass-fed beef and pork and free-range chickens have steadily risen in importance for health reasons and for humane treatment of animals.

The Eat Local Food Movement will have a tendency to go mainstream with large supermarkets claiming to have local produce, and that’s fine as long as the claim is true. Be sure to shop your farmers’ market for real local food and other local products. Visit Slow Food USA for more information.

Update on Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

beeOver the past six years, CCD has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives worth $2 billion. Bee colonies in the U.S. are so decimated that it takes 60% of the nation’s bee population to pollinate a single crop, California almonds. And that’s not just a local problem; California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds!

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s internal research agency, is leading several efforts into possible CCD causes. Varroa mites, a virus-transmitting parasite of honey bees, have frequently been found in hives hit by CCD. Some consider current pesticide and fertilizer use as another cause of the disorder. Researchers suspect that stress could be compromising the immune system of bees, making colonies more susceptible to disease, possibly caused by “poor nutrition (due to apiary overcrowding, pollination of crops with low nutritional value, or pollen or nectar dearth), drought, and migratory stress brought about by the increased need to move bees long distances to provide pollination services (which, by confining bees during transport, or increasing contact among colonies in different hives, increases the transmission of pathogens).”

To watch a short video on Bee Colony Collapse visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur1ZFj22K94.  To learn more on what’s being done about bee colony diseases view the USDA Colony Collapse Disorder Plan at www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/ccd/ccd_actionplan. 

 

 

Farmers Worried About California Drought

This year has been an extremely dry one. Not since 1977 have there been such arid winter conditions and this one’s going in the record books. Reservoirs are alarmingly low, farmers have had to cut back on water usage, ranchers are selling off cattle, communities have instigated water rationing, and the State of California is considering a statewide water emergency.

So how does that affect your local farmers’ market food purchases? Our market managers have been asking farmers how the lack of rain has been affecting their business/crops/products and some of the replies are: “I am paying A LOT more for water/ irrigation than I ever had at this time of year,” “If things stay the same, next year its going to be really bad,” “I’m not optimistic about spring pasturage.”

Joe Stabile-Hillview Farm, Watsonville, CA
Joe has been farming for 35 years and he told us last week that this is the worst droughts he has experienced thus far.  Normally Joe waters his apple trees 5-6 times a season but this past season Joe had to water 13 times!  This doubled his water bill for the year.

Patty- Great Valley Poultry, Manteca, Ca
When asked how the drought has affected her farm Patty said that there is no grass for their pastured chickens to graze.  They still rotate their pastured chickens around in the hope that the chickens will find something to eat.  Great Valley Poultry is having to supplement their pastured hens with alfalfa which is expensive.

Adriana- Tomatero Organic Farm, Aptos, Ca
Adriana said that they had to install sprinklers over their strawberry plants to mimic naturally rainfall since there has been no rain.

Anthony and Rachel- Casa Rosa Farms, Madera, Ca
Email sent to market managers: “Because of the drought we are experiencing, lamb supplies are going to be very low until the fall 2014. We have about 10-12 that will go to butcher this month and that will need to supply all our markets. At this point, we are not optimistic about spring pasturage, other than what we already have in irrigation. So most of our lambs from this fall/winter lamb cycle will reach butcher age September/October 2014, leaving a gap from June-October where we will likely have only small amounts of lamb available. Beef supplies are not affected yet, but 2015 will likely be a very rocky year for us and most small meat producers in California if we do not get rain this spring.”

Don’t be surprised if you see the cost of produce  and other products a bit higher in price than last year. The costs of cultivation and production because of the water shortage are the reason. Your farmers are doing their best to sustain their farms and themselves during the drought, so talk to them about their situation and support them in their efforts to continue to bring you the best fruits and vegetables they can.

And do a rain dance or two!

For more information on how you can conserve water visit Save Our Water for tips.

(Thanks to Matt Sylvester, Market Manager, for his input from farmers and producers.)