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Sunday, March 24 , 2019, 11:12 am | A Few Clouds 60º


Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café Announces the Opening of the Los Olivos Café Farm

Organic vegetables are already gracing plates of the Los Olivos Café. Click to view larger
Organic vegetables are already gracing plates of the Los Olivos Café. (Pamela Brown / Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café)

Sam and Shawnda Marmorstein, owners of the Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café and Bernat Winery & Retreats, are excited to announce the start-up of the Los Olivos Café Farm.

The Marmorstein’s are long-time advocates of using fresh, locally sourced produce for the meals prepared by Chef Chris Joslyn in the Los Olivos Café kitchen.

By utilizing their own land, they will now have the ability to grow many of the vegetables they need for the restaurant’s menu, flowers for arrangements on the tables and, as an extra bonus, offer extra produce canned into delicious, fresh product for sale exclusively in their Wine Merchant retail store. 

The opportunity to serve dishes incorporating vegetables picked from the field that morning ensures that guests dining at their restaurant will be enjoying produce at the peak of flavor.

Matt McCurdy, also employed at Windmill Nursery, will work with the Marmorsteins on the farm. Growing up in Santa Barbara and later moving to Ballard before leaving in 1992, Matt was an environmental activist focused on protecting the remaining ancient forests in Northern California and Oregon in his 20s.

In his 30s he worked as a project manager building affordable housing for low-income families.

After being laid off, he decided to go back to the environmental roots of his 20s and combine that with the skills he had learned as a manager.

He followed his passion and went to work for an organic nursery in Texas, Redenta’s Garden, where he learned the ins and outs of organic farming from co-workers who held masters degrees in horticulture.

Since then, he has grown organic vegetables in Texas, Northern California and throughout the Santa Ynez Valley, converting lawn areas into vegetable gardens and raised beds.

He is very excited that nine years later, his efforts are paying off with the opportunity to farm a large area.

Under McCurdy's management, the three acres of the Los Olivos Café Farm will help to maintain the vital agricultural open space needed for the long-term success of the Santa Ynez Valley.

Farmed organically, everything will be watered through drip irrigation (no overhead spraying), weeding and harvesting will be done by hand.

“The primary benefit of local organic farming is the food being served on the plate is the freshest possible," McCurdy said. "The harvest from the farm is delivered the same day to the restaurant, ensuring the highest quality of flavor and nutrition. Health-wise, for example, the organic heirloom seeds I am planting are of a known heritage spanning decades and in some cases a century or more.

The garden will also eschew use of GMO seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. 

"There are a lot of unanswered questions about what GMO crops will produce generations from now and the possible side effect to our health and food supply. Growing organically is how it has been done for thousands of years prior to the industrial revolution," McCurdy said.

Currently, the Los Olivos Café Farm is growing black beauty zucchini, golden zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, golden beets, kabocha squash, butternut squash, delicata squash, buttercup squash, a variety of carrots, various green and purple beans, sunflowers, zinnias and cosmos.

In addition, salads will be created from the romaine, red sails and oak leaf lettuces, toscano kale and smooth leaf spinach, while cucumbers will be used both fresh in salads and canned for pickles.

— Holly Cline represents ​Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café.


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