Ronald’s bright blue eyes are nearly covered by his low-to-the-forehead hat, but his effortless smile is radiant. Maybe that’s because he’s a man doing what he loves. Having just returned from a month’s camping trip near Death Valley, he’s happy to be back working the land. “You should have come last week,” Ronald says. “I hit my thumb with a 5-pound sledgehammer!” he says, pointing to the healing wound. “My hands change throughout the year. After winter, they’re a little soft, and then they get roughed up by the season. I look forward to the end of winter; I’m ready to plant seeds again. It’s magic growing food. When farming, you can clear your brain.” No chairs out here, so we settle down on the gate of his truck for a chat, looking out at the wide expanse of the growing field. “I took my hands for granted, really, until another local farmer had an accident,” Ronald tells me. “Now, I’m more careful. I look at my hands in a different way. I couldn’t do much without them—I drive a tractor, bend over to set gopher traps, plant seeds.” Ronald grows strawberries, potatoes, spinach and beets, “only heirloom,” he says, “nothing hybridized.” When I ask him about the farmers’ markets where he sells his produce, he replies, “People trust me. I grow their fruits and vegetables. I’ll say, ‘These potatoes were picked 28 edible monterey bay Summer 2015 two hours ago. Cook them tonight.’ I hand them goods; they hand me money, and they tell me stories, secrets even, about their lives.” Ronald asks if I’d like some strawberries before I go, hands me one basket and takes another himself. Out to the field we go, quickly filling both baskets with the sweetest berries that I don’t eat first. Before I drive away, Ronald holds up his hands, smiles and says, “Tonight, I’ll play table tennis with my hands!” LYNNE BOTTAZZO: Amen Bee Products After a greeting hug, Lynne leads me on a walk around her farm, stopping first at the bees. We crouch together under a low-hanging vine; the scents of orange, lemon and bergamot corral me, and they corral the bees that are Lynne’s livelihood. Once upon a time, Lynne—a striking, hardworking, silver-haired woman—was an opera singer. Her chickens, with feathers so dark they’re nearly black, lift their heads from their pecking in response to her cooing voice, as anybody would. Lynne’s farm is on a hill, so we head up, walk beside nectarine, quince and apricot blossoms bright against the storm-readying March sky. Lynne shows me the result of drought on many of the trees. Holding a branch with sad-looking flowers, she says, “Look, no bees. So dry are these trees that the flowers have no pollen. No pollen, no bees.
edible Monterey Bay Summer 2015
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