Green Sharlene

Beautiful, Bountiful Summer

The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and area farms and gardens are bursting with beautifully, fresh, ripe fruits and vegetables. Moving to the Yuba-Sutter area and seeing so many farmers every day, thinking about what they’re growing, and paying attention to what’s in season has not only made me really think about what I feed my family, it’s made me realize how very fortunate we are to live in the middle of such a rich, agriculturally diverse region.

I’m so grateful that I need look no farther than my local Yuba City Midweek Farmers Market—or my own backyard—to find the freshest, most delicious offerings of the season. I’m determined never to take for granted the fact that I can actually talk to the people who grow what I don’t plant in my garden. That is so important, and worlds away from putting under-ripe produce in my grocery cart without a second thought!

Being ideally situated near the Sacramento and Feather Rivers contributes to the richness of this area. The rivers have spread fine, fertile silt along their banks over the years whenever they flooded. That silt, which contains organic matter, continues to increase the fertility of the soil. Our farming history dates back to the 1840s and John Sutter’s Hock Farm. One of the first people to recognize the potential of the Valley, Sutter experimented with peach, fig, and pomegranate orchards, vineyards, and wheat. It’s no secret that California is the nation’s top agricultural state. In fact, the Sacramento Valley is one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, with both specialized and diverse farms, offering everything from peaches and plums to rice, almonds and walnuts. It's no surprise that California Grown crops nourish the nation and feed much of the world too.

I was a picky eater as a child (sorry, Mom!) and sometimes think I’m making up for that now, trying new recipes and experimenting with new ingredients as often as I can. Now that my children are older and a bit more adventurous when it comes to trying new dishes, I’m experimenting with different ingredients and the foods of different cultures. I worked in a Thai restaurant while in college, which started me thinking about cooking in a new way and sparked my imagination and appetite to try new things. As a nutrition major, it didn’t take long to realize that what I was learning in the classroom was something I could apply to real life: better, fresher food makes us feel better.

One of the best things about planting my own garden has been having fresh herbs when I want them. They’re easy to grow and I can use them in everything, from a simple egg dish for a relaxed family breakfast to a roast for a formal dinner. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as creating a fresh, nutritious meal for my family with a summer harvest of ingredients I’ve grown myself.  I like to try growing anything I can think of, which at the moment consists of onions, garlic and kale. I plan to grow more types of lettuce in the future.