Recently, two new farms joined the Napa Farmers Market. I was excited because they brought something to the market that we didn’t have—particularly on Saturdays—and that was meat. As a devoted carnivore, I love lamb and beef, and now the market provides everything my wife and I need for dinner.
The driving force behind each farm is a young woman well under the age of 30. The average age of an America farmer is 57, so I see this as a sign that the average farmer age might be on its way down.
Preston Point Farm is owned by Regina Pozzi. She grew up on her parents’ beef and sheep ranch in Tomales and was an active member of 4-H and FFA. Through these programs, she had the opportunity to develop her own business in the form of a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) project.
Pozzi’s SAE project is located in the rolling hills of Marin and Sonoma counties overlooking the Pacific Ocean. She has 130 Suffolk and Hampshire wether sires, ewes and rams. The project began seven years ago when she purchased her first market lambs to show at a county fair.
Later, she purchased 32 Hampshire and Suffolk ewes and a Suffolk ram from another 4-H member. Over the years, she has retained ewe lambs, diversified her genetics and sold market lambs and breeding stock, eventually more than tripling the size of the original herd.
Sheep have played an integral role in Pozzi’s life since she was a small child. As she grew, it only seemed natural that her SAE would revolve around sheep. She has always been interested in showing and breeding sheep and wants to succeed in everything she does.
She wanted to continue her family’s ranching tradition, improve the lambs and find ways to be profitable. Regina is currently a student at UC Berkeley, studying genetics and plant biology, and spending the rest of her time with her flock.
Sonoma Mountain Beef was born out of founder Jamie Mickelson’s desire to offer high-quality, humanely raised, locally processed beef. She believes in buying, selling and supporting local foods. Sonoma Mountain Beef uses Hereford genetics, although not all the cattle are purebred. To meet her requirements, the cattle must have a white face, an indicator that they have Hereford genes.
Mickelson sources all her calves locally from producers she knows. All of her cattle are born and raised near Petaluma on Sonoma Valley pasture. When they reach a target weight, they are finished on a mix of grains, oat hay and grass hay to guarantee meat with flavor and tenderness. Mickelson’s registered herd is fed a vegetarian diet and raised without antibiotics or growth hormones.
I have tried Regina’s lamb and Jamie’s beef, and can say without qualification that these products have my seal of approval.
Coming up at the market: On Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 11 a.m., chef Levi Mezick of Harvest Table will present a cooking demonstration using products from the market. Enjoy tasty samples and take home the recipe.
I’ve been making this recipe for many years. It’s perfect with beef or lamb, and almost every ingredient can be found at the Napa Farmers Market.
1 medium eggplant, in 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise, then sliced thin
Kosher or sea salt
1 onion, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound small ripe tomatoes, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence or dried basil, oregano and thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Sprinkle the eggplant and zucchini with salt and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out liquid. Pat dry with paper towels.
In a large skillet, cook the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and raise the heat to medium high. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is softened, about 8 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the herbs, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Transfer the vegetable mixture to a baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Broil until the cheese melts. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
The Napa Farmers Market takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., May through October, in the parking lot of the South Napa Century Center, 195 Gasser Drive, Napa. The third Tuesday of every month is Seniors’ Day at the market, with some vendors offering discounts to shoppers 65 and older. Ask about participating vendors at the information booth.
For more market information and a schedule of upcoming events, visit NapaFarmersMarket.org or visit the market on Facebook.
David Layland is the president of the board of directors of the Napa Farmers’ Market.