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Oct 10, 2008 11:31 PM

Farm to Picnic Table: ALBA, Salinas

One year later, I’m finally posting on my visit to ALBA’s farm in Salinas to celebrate local foods. Those who attended the 2007 Chowing with the Hounds picnic may remember lovely Latina chowhound, Monica, modeling the “Compre Lo Fresco de Nuestra Region” (Buy Fresh, Buy Local) logo for the Central Coast campaign.

My contribution to the crowded picnic table was roasted Salinas Valley zucchini meze (link to recipe, substitute lemon balm for mint, ), as shown here.

I’d picked the organic produce myself at ALBA, enough to serve 40. The cherry tomatoes and zucchini were grown by farmer-in-training, Domitila, shown here in her summer squash patch,

The lemon balm came from ALBA’s demonstration herb garden.
This garden also had different varieties of basil, lemongrass, rau ram, and many less common herbs. I especially enjoyed strolling through this area and seeing the trial plantings of many heirlooms and special varieties of chili peppers to see what will thrive in this climate.

This year, ALBA scheduled two you-picks, one last month and the second will be held tomorrow, October 11, from 10 am to 3 pm. I had a chance to talk to a friend in Salinas who took part last month with her Oaxacan in-laws. She said her family was pleased to see that familiar produce from their region and homeland was available. And she added that the berries were a hit.

2008 U-pick flyer, Sept 20 and Oct 11, 10am to 3pm

I’ll be there tomorrow morning to check it out myself. For an idea of what might be in the ground, here are my photos from October 5, 2007 showing some of what was in season.

ALBA slideshow (random order) -

Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA)
“An agricultural development and community center creating opportunities for beginning organic farmers”

ALBA Agriculture & Land Based Training Association
1700 Old Stage Rd, Salinas, CA

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  1. We had gorgeous 75-degree weather on Saturday for the field trip to the farm. Here are the photos of you-pick day (Oct 11, 2008),

    Some of the unique things were a range of garlic varieties and a type of Mexican non-sweet corn used to make tamales. Three types of strawberry varieties: Camarosa, Diamante, and Albion were ripe for the plucking. The summer veggies were all still available plus the transition to fall with pumpkins and squashes.

    I think it was highly educational for some who've not spent time on a farm and especially for the kids. One woman asked what a "tamale" was, and if i'd not been there to hear with my own ears, I wouldn't have believed it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Thanks for your coverage on ALBA, Melanie. Never heard of it before, but it sounds like a great venture to support. That non-sweet corn looks interesting...

      FYI: The SC Sentinel had an article on ALBA in the 10/17 edition.

      1. re: Carb Lover

        Despite the one woman who'd never heard of a tamal, another couple I saw talking to the corn-grower was excited to try their hands at tamale-making. We all had something to learn.

        Thanks for the link, the story also ran in the Monterey Herald I've learned. Besides selling directly to consumers at farmers markets, the farmers at ALBA also access institutional and wholesale accounts via ALBA Organics, its own distribution company. Up in your neck of the woods, UCSC, Dominican Hospital and various restaurants are clients, according to the website. So , you have many ways to lend your support.

    2. I got an email from ALBA that its Spring u-pick will be this Saturday, May 16 2009, from 11am to 4pm. Besides the opportunity to pick organic produce and meet the farmers, the day will feature live music, mural painting, and fresh food demos.