BRENTWOOD -- Fifth-generation farmer Ron Enos is seeing more East Contra Costa residents visit his 25-acre farm on the outskirts of Brentwood each weekend to stock up on butternut pumpkins, chard and collard greens to make soups and stews during the week. He owns one of the few certified organic farms in the area, and the only one producing winter crops.
"Personally, we eat what is in season, and this is one of the key items to eat locally," Enos said. "My opinion of local is within a short distance away."
Even this winter, the local food movement is continuing to grow in far East County, where the Contra Costa Master Gardeners will host "In Our Own Backyard: Celebrating Fresh & Sustainable Local Foods" next month in Brentwood.
Tickets are on sale for the Jan. 26 event at Summerset Orchards Lodge. It will include a catered lunch consisting of locally grown winter produce, a panel of area farmers, University of California Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr as a guest speaker and a master gardener presentation.
"We will have vendors selling local foods. When you go to Italy, you eat everything in season," event coordinator Linda Bray said. "We are trying to eat more locally and be aware of what we are eating."
Along with the lunch from Nature's Bounty in downtown Antioch featuring winter produce such broccoli, squash and kale, there will be a wine tasting from Hannah Nicole Vineyards & Winery. Zidenberg-Cherr will provide information regarding diet factors that could ease disease and promote better health.
"We are not only going to talk about why we are eating local but the medical benefits," Bray said.
Among the East County farmers who will be on panel are longtime orchardist Tino Bacchini, Al Courchesne of Frog Hollow Farm, Lynn Gursky from Gursky Ranch, Smith Family Farm's Janice Smith and Enos. The discussion will be moderated by Contra Costa Times columnist Joan Morris, who is an honorary master gardener.
"There are 14 of us (master gardeners) out here (East County), and let's see what we have out here and spotlight the local farmers here," Bray said.
There are 175 master gardeners countywide, and most of the organization's events are held in Central Contra Costa. According to Bray, master gardeners are community volunteers who are extensively trained over 17 weeks on well-researched gardening techniques.
"We do a lot of outreach in the community, and we try to teach people to garden in a healthier way," she said.
Enos says there are many misconceptions about what is locally and organically grown.
"An event like this can advance that knowledge to those who buy my produce. I do that on an individual basis with my clients daily," he said. "'Consumers beware' is a good phrase to use. It is about asking questions and getting information."
Master gardener Terry Lippert will present "Container Gardening" during the event. Bray noted that even those with small spaces can be empowered to grow their own food.
Another speaker will be KSFO radio personality and gardening guru Bob Tanem, who will provide tips to those who attend.
Paula King can be reached at 925-779-7174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Contra Costa Master Gardeners present "In Our Own Backyard: Celebrating Fresh & Sustainable Local Foods"
When: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 26
Where: Summerset Orchards Lodge, 770 Centennial Place, Brentwood.
More details: Visit ccmg.ucdavis.edu.