January. Tot Friendly Ingredient Procurement.

Amid flu season and the holiday hangover I have to admit that our family hasn’t been motivated to do much of anything. January for us is Daddy getting back into the routine of work.  Benjamin getting back into the routine of school and Harper and I figuring out what to do with ourselves each day without our guys around.  By the time the weekends come laundry has piled, our refrigerator is bare and we scramble around just preparing for the upcoming week.  The cold days and early darkness in January adds to our general lack of enthusiasm to get out of our house.

This January I didn’t have any real resolutions to stick with so I decided to set a personal goal of cooking from scratch more and visiting our local farmer’s markets any chance I get.  Since our town doesn’t have a winter farmer’s market we pile into the car and hit my favorite Sacramento market the “Under the Freeway” market at 8th and W Streets in the State Parking lot Downtown.  The drive is around 20 minutes and its worth the trip.  The market is open every Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  There is easy parking lot parking next to the market if you arrive early and beat the crowds.  This is the largest market in the area and has many booths both organic and conventional. My January shopping list has included eggs, oranges, chili peppers, kale, lettuce, snap peas, celery and more. There are port-a-potties available for potty trained tots and parents. There are also ATM’s and community organized booths distributing flyers and information.

Harper and I also made a resolution together to try some of the locally owned family food markets, bakeries and restaurants in our surrounding area.  So far we have made trips to Draper Farms in San Anselmo, CA in Marin County, The San Anselmo Coffee Roastery in San Anselmo, CA in Marin County, Pushkin’s Bakery in Sacramento and Temple Coffee Roasters in Sacramento.  Look for reviews in the coming days.

Without regular farm trips we are all lost and looking for our next adventure.  If we can avoid the tot winter germ pool we hope to make tracks sooner than later.  For now we are loving our apricot jam we canned last summer and making use of our frozen produce we squirreled away for winter.

How Farm Tots All Started.

Four years ago my first child Benjamin was born in the small farming community of Davis, CA.  Through bleary sleep deprived eyes I took my colicky swaddled boy and started endless walks up and down the meandering paths that weaved through our town.  Through sun filtered trees he started to calm as the cool Delta breezes brushed his dark hair from his inquisitive eyes.  I realized quickly that this child was meant to be outdoors.  We explored every inch of every trail that was accessible by stroller and I spoke softly showing him all that the nature surrounding us had to offer.  Horses poked their heads over our back fence and I would point them out each morning to Benjamin and saw his first smiles as could focus his gaze on them.

Nothing could relax Benjamin like being outside and we were fortunate enough to be surrounded by miles of farmland in all directions.  We started venturing out on short drives as the weeks and months started to blur together.  We watched cattle grazing and learned about goats and sheep.  We visited apple orchards and corn fields and I pushed that stroller through dirt pastureland and through muddy puddles.

Our family moved from Davis before Benjamin’s first birthday and settled in another rural community.  This time we found ourselves in El Dorado Hills in the Sierra Foothills just outside Sacramento, CA.  We wanted a home with more land and a lower cost for housing and found just that.  As we planted our own garden and got ourselves settled we welcomed a new family member, our second child, Harper.

With two children we found it even more important to continue to teach our family about the area we had settled.  Benjamin was now the most active two year old boy we could imagine so getting him outside where he could run free, kick the land and move his arms freely was the only way we could get through the transition to having two children in diapers. We set out on weekend trips exploring the foothills and getting to know the people who grow the ingredients that had become staples in our quest for local cuisine.

We made a decision as a family to eat local and organic as much as possible.  When that wasn’t available we would at least try to eat local and as a last resort procure ingredients that were organic from our local stores.  We began cooking more seasonally and learned about what our area offered during different month of the year.

For the last year on each of our outings I have commented to my Husband that there aren’t many resources for families looking to teach their children about local harvests.  The idea for a blog about tot friendly farms and food festivals swirled in my mind for weeks and months.  Now, with a four year old and two year old I have decided to make this blog a priority and try to provide another resource for families that want to learn more about where there food comes from.  I hope our passions for farming, local harvests and cooking can inspire others to try to eat more local foods and teach their children about the importance of land stewardship and how farming fits into the future.

Come join us on our journey!