Field Notes: Devil’s Gulch & Star Route Farms
FIELD NOTES: October 2014
Early last month, the kitchen crew was given the opportunity to visit both Devil’s Gulch Ranch and Star Route Farms. Despite our night-owl dispositions, we managed to get to the restaurant early to meet up. Then we climbed aboard the “Mexican Bus” that would take us to Marin County. I can certainly speak to how much fun the entire day was, but more importantly how special it was to come face to face with the product we use. For young cooks such as ourselves, it is imperative to the learning process to see where these beautiful animals and produce come from before we ever lay hands on it.
Our first stop was Devil’s Gulch Ranch, which is where farmers Mark and Myraim Pasternak raise several hundred rabbits and quite a few pigs with a great deal of care. The ranch itself is partially powered by wind-turbine and While some plots sat entirely empty or already harvested, the existing plants appeared as jewels coming straight out of the ground. What amazed me most that day was seeing our Petite Salad stuck right there in the dirt, then later carefully washed by farm-hands and wrapped in boxes labeled “Jardinière”. If I’m being completely candid I can admit that before seeing this process in person I absolutely took these simple greens for granted. That will never again be the case.
We had the pleasure of being shown the grounds which is comprised of 40 acres of abundant organic soil and a wide variety of growing produce. The farm’s owner of 38 years, Warren Webber is deeply committed to only producing very high quality organics. Even to our untrained eyes, it was easy to see how this method of farming was not only good for the food but also good for the land. Warren also spent many years raising his family on the farm, right near the housing provided for their employees. The fact that all hands involved in growing also lived there gave the farm a wonderful feeling of home. Not only did we have a chance to learn about the process of farming, but we had the pleasure of seeing the passion of the farmers themselves first-hand. I feel like I can speak for all of us when I say this field trip was a very special opportunity for us to get closer to our food, and closer to each other as a team. I can’t wait to find out where we’re going next time.
Words & Pictures by: Riley Redfern