OF SINGING FROGS AND THINGS ORGANIC
In the nearly six years that Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser have been farming on Ferguson Road in west Sebastopol, they have transformed the soil from 2.5 percent to 6.5 percent organic matter that stretches down a full 12 inches. At the same time, they have enjoyed sales about 12 times the national average per acre. Details like these might make your eyes glaze over, but when you consider that they've done this organically and sustainably, in a compost-based operation, it should fill you with hope for the future. Healthy soil with an abundant harvest could go a long way towards saving the world.
Singing Frogs Farm's current harvest includes its signature crop, the Asian green called tatsoi, along with baby bok choy, collard greens, chard, kale, broccolini, escarole and endive. It also has beautifully tender red and green butter head lettuces and crisp red and green mini Romaine lettuces.
Any day now, it will have full-sized heirloom red beets and by St. Patrick's Day some of the year's first fresh cabbage, -- green, red and Napa -- will be ready. Cabbages available in the winter are typically harvested in November and stored. The farm will also have fresh rutabagas in time for the holiday.
Soon there will be scallions, arugula, radishes, mizuna and other mustard greens.
Singing Frogs Farm has a flock of about 300 laying hens that live year-round on green-grass pasture, which produces eggs with rich orange yolks. Currently, there are not had enough eggs to keep up with demand, but with nearly 100 new layers coming on soon, production should double by early spring.
About two-thirds of the farm's sales are from the 100-plus member community-supported agriculture program, which is now year-round. When the Kaisers launched the farm in 2008, they offered a seasonal CSA subscription immediately and reached capacity at 20 members. Now, there's room for more.
In addition to the farm's produce, the CSA features add-on options, including farm eggs, organically grown olive oil from B. R. Cohn and organic brown rice from Massa Organics. Both the rice and the olive oil are offered at prices substantially below retail. The CSA's classic box is $26 and its family box, which includes about 30 percent more produce, is $33.50. There is no delivery charge, and you can pick up at the farm or at several established drop-off locations in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Graton. You may even form your own pick-up location at home or work if you can round up a minimum of five members.
Singing Frogs Farm is a family endeavor. The Kaisers' son Lucas, 5, has his own little garden and last weekend sold his tatsoi and thyme at the farmers market. I suspect his little sister Anna, 3, will follow her brother's lead sometime soon. There are also two full-time employees and two part-time employees who help with harvesting and packing the CSA boxes.
Although Singing Frogs Farm is not open to the public, there are several opportunities to visit. There are spring farm tours on Sunday and April 13, a bug hunt on April 28 and a Mother's Day Weekend tour on May 11. There are also CSA-members-only events.
Farmer Paul Kaiser also works with wood, crafting everything from pretty little cheese spreaders, cutting boards and jewelry boxes to game boards, tables, desks, beds, one-of-a-kind pieces and and Adirondack chairs in beautiful colors. To see Kaiser's woodwork, visit nightheronwoodworks.com
Singing Frogs Farm, founded in 2007 and owned and operated by Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser, attends the Santa Rosa Original Certified farmers market on Saturday year round. The farm will be at the Sebastopol farmers market through April and later if there is room, and will attend the Windsor farmers market from April through June, primarily with plant starts. When the Occidental farmers market opens in June, they'll be there, too. For more information, including about farm events, and to sign up for the farm's CSA, visit singingfrogsfarm.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Charlie is the family llama.
Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. E-mail Jordan at email@example.com. You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.