Sonoma’s farm girls: meet Andrea Davis
I had this recent epiphany. Just when I thought Sonoma couldn’t get any cooler, I realized that in our teeny community we have so many young, beautiful, female farmers.
How amazing is that? And I consider myself to be very lucky to call many of them my friends.
Since I am fortunate enough to know these super hard-working gals, I thought y’all might like to know our fabulous female farmers as well. This week, meet Andrea Davis. Her goal, besides helping to make Sonoma as delicious as possible, is for everyone to know where your food comes from and how it is grown. Better yet, she says, grow and produce your own food even if it is just a tiny container of herbs. A pretty tasty idea, I do believe.
Kristin: How did you decide to pursue agriculture as a career?
Andrea: During my first year at Hampshire College I needed a work-study job and thought the college farm would make for an enjoyable job since it was outside and physical. After a semester of my work-study I felt such a strong and comfortable connection to farm work that I then decide to change my academic focus to sustainable agriculture.
Kristin: It’s unusual for a young women to be a ‘farmer.’ What hurdles have you faced?”
Andrea: During my academic studies and apprenticeships in agriculture most of the other young people I worked with were women. But few of the people in charge were women. I think a hurdle that I face often is that customers or even fellow (male) farmers assume that I assist my husband or family in farming when in reality I am currently a solo act with my husband lending a hand occasionally. I do everything from crop planning, seed ordering, planting, weeding, harvesting, marketing, to facebook updates.”
Kristin: What sort of training or schooling have you had?
Andrea: I have a BA in Sustainable Agriculture with a focus on Local Food Systems from Hampshire College and I have had apprenticeships on many farms in various states on the east coast.
Kristin: What are your favorite parts of farming as a career?”
Andrea: I love many things about farm particularly the creativity of it all; creating a crop plan and seeing it become a reality or at least most of the plan. More simply planting a seed and watching it grow.
Kristin: What are the most difficult parts of the job?
Andrea: Long days, trying to fit in as much work as possible in to 24 hours. Personally, for me, sometimes the hardest part is juggling the other non-farm work I have to do to make ends meet.”
Kristin: Tell me about your farm and where you sell what you’ve grown.
Andrea: Quarter Acre Farm, is a very small certified organic vegetable farm, we currently grow on 3/4 of an acre in Sonoma Valley. We are just finishing up our fourth year of operation, selling at the Friday morning farmers market, to restaurants, and to our small CSA.
Kristin: What are your favorite things to grow?
Andrea: Hmm that’s a hard one … normally I would say tomatoes but this year I’m leaning more towards basil and cucumbers.
Kristin: What do you think is the future of farming and food in America?
Andrea: Sustainable and Local. Local meaning your daily community.
Kristin: We’re pretty lucky to live in Sonoma with all of this wonderful produce! What do you wish we could grow here that we can’t?
Andrea: Avocados, mmmm guacamole.
Kristin: Do you like cook with your produce? What is your favorite thing and can you give us the recipe?
Andrea: Oh yes I love to cook. What I seem to make the most of is simple tomato sauce that I freeze to use later in the winter as a base for soup, chili, pizza sauce, and more.
Kristin’s event pick
Mark your calendars and purchase your tickets for a fabulous-sounding evening on November 11, one that raises funds for the independent film “Breaking Bread, Kneading Culture.” The film is a documentary focused on Mike Zakowski, our amazing local town baker, otherwise known as “the bejkr,” Held at the Sonoma Community Center, this will be an incredible affair filled with farm-to-table food prepared by former Chez Panisse chef, Charlene Nicholson, flat breads from the bejkr, as well as entertainment from local artists, headlined by Arann Harris and the Farm Band. Guests will watch a prescreening of the film and can take part in a very special silent auction. Tickets for this event can be purchased at Brownpapertickets.com/event/283469. To donate directly to this film project, or for more information visit Thebejkr.com.
Andrea’s basic farm tomato sauce
- Any kind of tomato: large, cherry, ugly, soft, and evething in between
- Kosher salt
- Large stockpot
- Food mill
- Quart freezer bags
Remove the stem of the tomatoes and cut them in half, with large tomatoes cut in fours. Throw cut tomatoes in pot until filled.
Add a few healthy pinches of salt and roughly mix tomatoes. Place stockpot over low-medium heat and cover. Stir occasionally until tomatoes really start to break down, then increase the heat to medium flame and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes and them simmer until sauce has reached your desired thickness. Take off heat and let cool.
Once cool enough to handle, break out your food mill (don’t have one, go get one — they are the best!) and a big bowl. Set the food mill over the big bowl and ladle the cooked tomatoes into the food mill and crank away. Not only will you be working on your biceps, you’ll be removing the skins and creating a smooth sauce.
After you have milled all your tomatoes, bag up the completed sauce in the freezer bags making sure to leave a couple inches of head space before sealing the bag and throwing it in your freezer for a summer treat in the dead of winter.
Kristin Jorgensen is one of Sonoma’s most passionate, food obsessed residents. In this weekly column, she covers all the delicious happenings, foodie events and restaurants in Sonoma, the rest of Wine Country and beyond. Email her with comments, questions, or your food related events at firstname.lastname@example.org.