REDWOOD VALLEY, CA., 11/29/22 – In a world where large farms often dominate grocery store shelves, it’s small farms that are the true backbone of local agriculture and foodways. They are integral to our culture, health, and economy. Small farms help maintain rural communities, nurture and protect the environment, and provide a diverse array of products to keep our bellies full and our bodies healthy.
To celebrate – and support – the work of small farms, the Good Farm Fund will host its annual Winter Feast on Tuesday, December 6. The event, which benefits the Good Farm Fund, features a farm-to-fork meal using ingredients from over twenty local farms and ranches, and local beer, wine, and craft cocktails. The evening also includes live music by the Clay Hawkins Duo, gift baskets filled with local foodie products for sale, and a raffle.
Founded in 2015, the Good Farm Fund provides grants to local farms to support specific projects to help improve operations, environmental sustainability, and food access. Past projects include a new generator to help with power outages at Inland Ranch Organics in Redwood Valley, purchasing beehives for Good Things Farm in Fort Bragg, and a new tractor at Cinnamon Bear Farm in Calpella.
These grants are critical to the success of Mendocino County’s small farms. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), approximately half of the farms in the United States are “very small farms” which bring in a farming income of less than $10,000 annually. According to a 2019 report by the USDA, “off-farm” employment contributed to 82% of the household income for small family farms. This includes farms in Mendocino County, many of which are passion projects for the farmer, who is required to work outside of his or her farm for additional income.
Those passion projects and good faith efforts by local small farms will be the star of the night at the Winter Feast. This year’s menu is inspired by Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and California cuisines, prepared by volunteer chefs from throughout the region using locally sourced ingredients.
Ingredients include lamb from Headwaters Grazing, a Good Farm Fund grant recipient that offers sheep grazing services to property owners to improve soil, reduce fuels to create a more fire-resilient landscape, and improve biodiversity by reducing non-native plants. Headwaters Grazing also sells grass-finished lamb and beef, yarn, and sheepskins.
The Mendocino Grain Project, another Good Farm Fund grant recipient, will provide grains for the dinner. The Project is a farm, mill, and seed-cleaning facility in Ukiah that grows heirloom grains and beans. It also serves as a food hub for other local farmers to clean and distribute their grains. Reza’s Breadery, from Willits, will use the Project’s grains to make fresh baked naan at the Winter Feast, using a wood-fired oven owned by Olan Cox of Mendough Catering.
If your mouth isn’t watering yet, it might after you learn about the additional partners helping to make the Winter Feast a reality: the Mendocino College Culinary Arts Program, Patrona Restaurant, Fog Eater Cafe, Mendo Ferments, the Bewildered Pig, Graziano Family of Wines, and many more. It’s bound to be a wonderful night to dine in Mendocino County for a fruitful cause.
Tickets to the Good Farm Fund’s Winter Feast start at $50. The event takes place on Tuesday, December 6 at Barra of Mendocino Winery & Event Center, Redwood Valley. Gluten-free and vegan dining options are also available. Learn more and buy tickets here.
Sarah Stierch covers food, beverage, culture and breaking news for The Mendocino Voice. Contact Stierch at [email protected]. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.