IMG_3343_cropAfter some very warm days, the fog descended early on this Saturday afternoon at Live Earth Farm. All those little adjustments made the day before so that  guests would not have to stare into the sun were for naught on this almost cool, foggy afternoon.

We began with appetizers under the oaks: Tomato consume paired with Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery Rose of Pinto Noir, Croation calamari and greens on polenta, with Storrs Winery and Vineyards Chardonnay and for the first time ever in the history of the Discovery Program’s dinners on the farm, beer. We sipped Santa Cruz Ale Works Hefeweisen to be exact, with a delicious salsa verde and tortilla chips. The silent auction was bigger and prettier than ever, laid out on redwood apricot drying trays that were salvaged from the old barn.

IMG_3336_smThe guests, who could tear themselves away from the appetizers and drinks, enjoyed a photography wall. On one side a black and white historical display of the diversity of farmers who have worked the Pajaro Valley generously provided by the Pajaro Valley Historical Association and beautiful full color photographs of the LEF Discovery Students from the past year. On the other side there was a fun photo booth complete with costume accessories. The folky tunes by The Shapes created a pleasant atmosphere with their guitar strumming, beautiful harmonies and conscious lyrics.


With a very old Newton Pippin apple tree in the middle of our circle we gathered for the blessing by Norma Cordova in more of a clump than a circle this year. This tradition of giving thanks warmed our hearts and Chef Jonathan Miller took care of warming our bellies. Expertly lead by Chef Andrea Mollenaur of Lifestyle Culinary Arts and served by teen volunteers from Santa Cruz ROP and The Teen Kitchen Project, the first course was a slightly spicy, savory Caldo Verde made in the Portuguese tradition with Corralitos Meat Market Linguica. This with Companion Bakeshop Bread and Belle Farms Olive Oil and paired with Birichino’s 2012 Besson Vineyard Old Vine Grenache was a meal in and of itself, but it was just the beginning.

The table was set with grey linens, turquoise napkins, orange candles, a variety of mismatched plates, and mason jar water glasses. In the center of each stood a native plant generously provided by Sierra Azul Nursery and Gardens, surrounded by succulents, arranged by Bloemster in tin cans jazzed up with burlap and lace. At each place sat a little coir pot full of native grasses, wrapped in turquoise, orange and lime green ribbon and sporting a thank you card and planting directions made by Santa Cruz Montessori Wavecrest students.

SONY DSCJohn Kegebein of the Agricultural History Project took the stage to share a bit of the Pajaro Valley story of diversity in farming, while the vibrant green salad, a nod to Japanese farmers, featuring broccoli, green beans and peas topped with sesame dressing landed on the tables. The 2010 Cima Collina Riesling was a lovely touch alongside the salad. The Entrée of Morris Grassfed Beef Short Ribs prepared in the Chinese tradition was gorgeous and complexly delicious atop its bed of Chinese black rice and sautéed greens and paired with Zayante Vineyards 2010 Syrah.

Just before the sun set behind the oak tree lined cow pasture, we took a brief pause from devouring all of this delicious food for some live auction fun and then to hear a heart warming story about a teen who turned his work with Food What and The Discovery Program into a meaningful job at Live Earth Farm. As we opened our hearts and our wallets, the dusk darkened and the canopy of incandescent globe lights brightened, the dessert landed on our tables. It had only been a short interlude, but it was just enough time to wet our pallettes before we enjoyed Companion Bakeshop Apple and Strawberry Rhubarb Pies with Penny Ice Creamery Tahitian Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

SONY DSCFull of good wine, excellent food, and the joy of sharing and supporting the good work of the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program we made our way along a candle lit farm road to the fire circle, where we met up with happily satiated children singing along with Doug Dirt and Airy Larry to Banana Slug String Band tunes reminding us why it all matters, because “dirt made my lunch.” Thank you to all of the people, the farmers, the artisans, the vintners, the ranchers, the mothers, the fathers, the teachers, the children, the businesses who made this great community effort a beautiful and successful celebration.

We could not have done it without our sponsors. Our special thanks tolakesideorg Lakeside Organic Gardens, Camphill Communities California, Staff of Life, Awesome Organics, Santa Cruz County Bank, Scurich Insurance Services, Coke Farm, Pajaro Valley Irrigation, Bulterman Electric, Chris & Linda VanHook, Richard and Carolyn Beahrs, J.E.Farms Inc.