First of spring harvest arriving

Oak Hill Farm may be the first out of the gate with spring garlic. The first of their harvest sold out quickly at last Friday's Sonoma Valley Farmers Market. This Friday, they will have their first spring onions.

At last week's market, nettles, pea shoots, broccoli, and the first of the year's flowers, flowering quince, almond blossoms and peach blossoms, all went quickly, too, gone when I arrived about an hour before the market closed.

Still, there was plenty of freshly harvested produce at the stall. The last bunch of French breakfast radishes sat pertly on the burlap-covered table like a kitten eager to be adopted. Into my bag it went.

There was beautiful green cabbage, big and crisp, perfect for fermenting.

Mizuna, arugula, fava leaves and collards filled baskets and bins; carrots were nearly sold out and there were plenty of golden beets and small red beats. A single jar of herbed pickles remained.

The farm still has dried chiles, shaped into beautiful ristras and wreaths, bouquets of pretty dried flowers and leaves, and four varieties of winter squash.

Decorative greenery -#8212; young eucalyptus, bay and more -#8212; sat where the flowers had been before they sold.

By this Friday, there will be more early-spring crops, including spinach and lettuces, along with more fresh nettles and some of the season's last Brussels sprouts.

Like many local farms, Oak Hill does not call itself "organic" as it does not go through the bureaucratic process now required to allow use of the term. However, they use no chemicals of any kind and haven't since the 1950s. They are a model of responsible, truly sustainable farming and stewardship of the land.

Oak Hill Farm canceled its winter CSA this year and instead opens the Red Barn farm store on Saturdays. In previous years, the store has opened in May and closed in December, but feedback from customers suggested they would prefer to stop by and shop instead of receiving a bi-weekly box.

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