Sunday, August 26, 2012

What's a CSA?

All across America since the 1980's, Community Suppported Agriculture farms have been sprouting up.  Shoppers go direct to the farmer and purchase a box or basket of veggies, fruits, herbs, etc., for a set price every week or so.  Whatever is in season is what you get.  This is Shawn Shimokawa on her farm, Sulfur Mountain CSA, in Upper Ojai.  She was hard at work when I visited.  Shaun left her corporate job and her tiny cubicle because she wanted to work the land, and she is and she's so much happier!

Educating the Children in Ojai

Traveling to a number of schools in Ojai to teach organic gardening, David Robert White was at Summit Elementary School when I met him.  He was getting the garden beds in order for the close of school.  You know what his biggest gardening problem was----gophers.  They burrow under the rows of carrots or beets or other root vegetables and just munch, munch, munch.  I saw one walking around in broad daylight as if he was strolling to a tea party.  That was pretty bold!

What is It?

Did you guess, "artichoke"?  You were right.  I saw hundreds of artichokes at Steve Sprinkles farm.  See Steve in the following photo........

The Farmer in Ojai

I was lucky to catch Steve as he was doing some tilling on his farm.  He has acres and acres in production.  He grows a lot for the restaurant he runs with his wife, Olivia, called the Farmer and the Cook.  If you are ever in Ojai, stop in and tell them I sent you.

And in His Off Time.......

Yes, Steve is a surfer, like me!  He keeps his board in the back of his pickup just in case the waves come up in Ventura.  He's living a fine life-----farming, eating healthy fresh food, and surfing!!

Looks like Something Familiar

Remember the artichoke you saw a few photos back on Steve's farm, well this is what the globe looks like if it's left in the field past harvest.  Does it look like a thistle, it should, it's in the thistle family.

Bye, Bye

This is Nala.  She kept me company while I was visiting Ojai.  She was the perfect hostess---always happy to see me and friendly as could be.  Mom was so appreciative of her owners, Judy and Ron Polito, for putting us up and making sure we had an enjoyable and educational stay.  We did!  We felt like royalty.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oh My, Ojai

Situated about 2 hours northwest of Los Angeles, California, between Santa Barbara and Ventura, the little farming community of Ojai, draws lots of tourists.  It's a town full of charm, organic produce, recreational activities, and ecologically-minded residents.  See some of the landscape in the following photographs...........

Ranch after Ranch after Ranch

My friend from Ojai, Judy, spent the whole day driving me around her neighborhood.  We passed so many well-maintained farms and ranches and it just warmed my heart.  This is just one of them.  Did you notice the lantern?  There is a lot of Spanish influence in these parts because this land once belonged to Mexico.  Ojai's name used to be "Nordhoff".  Do some detective work and find out why it was changed.

New to My View

This is something I don't see in Hawaii-----bales of hay.  I have never seen a rig as big as this one either, this flatbed trailer, hauling feed.  The truck was making a loud noise as it decended into Ojai Valley.  I wonder where it was taking all that hay.  Any guesses?

This is the Life

Karen grows lavender and it's all over her New Oak Ranch.  She and her husband spent years cruising the Mediterrean and then decided they were ready to settle down. They chose Ojai because it was a beautiful, healthy environment.  They harvested rows and rows of walnut trees, then thought that lavender would be a great cash crop, too.  They were right!  You can see the lavender in the foreground and the walnut way in the distance.  That water is Karen's heated infinity pool.  Pretty sweet, huh?

In All Her Glory

So, not only does Karen and her husband grow the lavender, they process it too, extracting the lavender's essential oil and creating heavenly products.  I bought a bar of lavender soap and it deeply perfumed Mom's suitcase.  Karen is also a cookbook writer and that's a copy of her book in her hand.
She's in the middle of writing another cookbook right now!

Outdoor Living at its Best

Okay, who's ready for a piece of pizza?  I am, are you?  Yes, that's a pizza oven.

A Very Clever Idea!

For all of you who have hens,  isn't this a great idea.  Just have your whole hen house set up so that you can take the eggs in the hen's nesting boxes from the outside of the coop.  The hens were happy not being disturbed which is another advantage of this set up.  Karen's son designed this.

Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm

Just smell that fresh lavender.  If you are ever in Ojai, stop by the New Oak Ranch and pick your own.  Huge bundles are just $5.00.  Want to know more about Karen's operation or buy some lavender products?  Go to:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Best Friend in Ojai

I'm in the arms of my dear pal, Judy Polito.  She had met me at the Haleiwa Farmers' Market last spring and when she heard about my California Road Trip, asked me to come visit her in Ojai.  She was absolutely fabulous (so was her husband, Ron).  She took good care of me and made sure I felt welcomed.  I did.  We had a grand adventure...........see what I mean in the next few photographs.

First Stop--Awakening my Intelligence

Oak Grove School is an educational center which celebrates the whole child.  The atmosphere vibrates happiness, acceptance, and love.  What a wonderful place to learn.  Judy was my tour guide and knew the campus well as her children attended Oak Grove.

Loving the Woods

This pavilion is at the heart of the school.  All the structures are very rustic and inviting at Oak Grove.  I felt like I was at summer camp.  Do you think I will need my mosquito spray?

No Metal Lockers Here

What a friendly place------the kids were polite and interested in me-----and I was interested in them.  What do you think of this outdoor peg rack for their backpacks?  This looks like a school I would love to attend.  Are you interested in attending?  Want to know more about Oak Grove?  Go to

Heading Towards the Art Room

I would love to spend the day with a brush in my paw, sitting on this bench in the open air, painting.  Art is good for your heart!

All the Right Equipment

Oak Grove is a progressive school which means the administrators understands the importance of art in a well-rounded curriculum.  These easels are a testament to that committment.  Doing art lifts your spirit and, in turn, opens you up to integrating the academics better.  The happier the child, the more receptive he or she is to learning. (Mom told me that and I pretty much believe everything she tells me.  She has been teaching third grade for almost 25 years and knows her stuff!)

Ready, Set, Create!

I'm right in the thick of it---------the Art Room at Oak Grove!  So much color, so much activity!  And what do you think of my hairdo!!  I've become a piece of art, for goodness sakes!

Welcome to the Second Floor

Yes, this "art room/building" has a second floor and it the weaving loft.  Christy, the art teacher, was showing me around and feeling mighty proud of all the looms.  Most of them were donated.  Doesn't weaving look like fun!  I think I want to try it some time and make myself a cosy little rug just perfect for those cool North Shore winter nights.

Happiness in the Kitchen

You can imagine what wonderful food is whipped up at Oak Grove.  It all smelled tasty and the chefs were proud of using local ingredients.  They even had a vegan menu.  Wow!  Now that's progressive.

Doesn't this Just Say it All?

Yes, I believe I'd be a happy camper, oops, I mean student, at Oak Grove School.  Maybe next summer I'll follow one of the kids to school and see if I can quietly observe from the back of the classroom.  I know I'd learn lots!

Smart Thinking

Putting solar panels in the garden at Oak Grove was brilliant.  Using the sun's energy to power anything is so good for the planet.  I like the way these folks do things.

Where are the Marshmallows?

Smack dab in the middle of the garden at Oak Grove was this fire pit.  I hope I get invited to an evening here.  I can just smell the campfire, hear the strumming of the guitars, and feel the warmth all around.
Maybe the ash from the fire will be saved to nourish the garden.  Ever hear of "potash"?