Our Farm Partners
At Vita Kitchen, we know that produce coming from local farms is always the way to go. When founding Vita I knew that I wanted to source our produce from the local farms, as having that direct connection to the food we are cooking is important to me, and inspires me in the kitchen!
I spent a summer working on organic farms through a program called WWOOF and learned firsthand how difficult the work of farming can be. Not to mention all the things that farmers near the Bay Area have had to deal with the last few years – droughts, fires, floods, pandemics, wildfires….the list goes on. I have ever-growing respect for the hardships that farmers are going through these days and know that through my business I want to have some monetary impact in supporting local small-scale organic farmers.
Here’s our weekly process when it comes to working with our farm partners:
When planning our menus each week the team gathers around our big table and looks over the “fresh lists” sent by our farm partners. These lists tell us what they are currently harvesting from the fields. We get inspired by what’s coming up new seasonally (right now all the spring peas and fava beans!), and we brainstorm ways to use new varietals of our favorite fruits and veggies.
We then place our order directly with the farm staff ahead of time for a weekly pickup from the Berkeley Farmers Market. This pickup is always a good chance to reinforce our connections and get visually inspired by all the beautiful produce.
I also love seeing how excited our kitchen staff gets when we bring in an exceptionally good-looking box of produce – for example, summer heirloom tomatoes, beautiful maroon speckled chicories, or a new kind of rabe.
Ultimately at Vita, we tend to make our vegetable side preparations pretty simple to showcase the flavor of the vegetable itself. I believe that this restraint makes us better cooks – learning how to showcase a flavor rather than always trying to put our mark on it.
Knowing that we are having some kind of positive impact on the local farming economy, as well as feeding our clients the freshest (and most flavorful) produce, is truly one of the things that keep me going in this business. It keeps me, and I think the rest of the team as well, rooted in the land and the natural cycle of the seasons.
I wanted to share our farm partners with you below. We are in endless gratitude to all the work that they do.
With love & gratitude,
RIVERDOG (Guinda, CA)
Riverdog Farm is a 450-acre certified organic, diversified family farm that grows vegetables, fruits, and nuts, and raises both chickens and pigs. Located in the fertile Capay Valley, Riverdog’s produce benefits from the hot summers and frost-ridden winters resulting in some of Northern California’s most notably delicious produce. Since 1990, they have implemented a system of compost, crop rotation, cover cropping, and hedgerow planting to keep the soil healthy. To further promote a healthy ecosystem, pigs and chickens provide a natural source of fertilizer for the orchards and fields.
“As one of the first organic farms to sell at the Berkeley Farmers’ markets, we have been helping to bring organic, seasonal, local food to the fore of the sustainable food movement for over 25 years.”
Here are some produce items that we regularly source from Riverdog:
All of our eggs!
Carrots, Sungold/cherry tomatoes, onions, potatoes, green beans, summer squash, basil, tomatillos, beets, cabbage, kale, scarlet turnips, bok choy & tat soi
FULL BELLY FARM (Capay Valley, CA)
Full Belly Farm is right down the road from Riverdog, also cultivating about 400 acres in the Capay Valley. They are organically certified and committed to sustainability on all levels, from soil health to stable employment for farm workers.
Here are some produce items that we regularly source from Full Belly:
Winter squash of all varieties, asparagus, onions, potatoes, swiss chard, collard greens, broccolini, green garlic, spring onions
BLUE HERON (Corralitos, CA)
Blue Heron Farms is a 20-acre certified organic farm operating in a small sheltered valley in Corralitos, California that specializes in growing top-notch vegetables and some of the most diverse, stunning flowers found in the Bay.
Here are some of the produce items we regularly source from Blue Heron:
The best lettuce greens as well as lacinato kale, radishes, and fennel
BROKAW (Soledad, CA) – The Avocado Masters!!!
Brokaw Ranch Company is a three-generation operation specializing in intensively farmed avocado, specialty citrus, and subtropical tree-fruit production. Will, the son of founders Hank and Ellen Brokaw, has deep roots in the avocado business. His great uncle was the half-owner of, and the first to propagate the nursery stock for, the original Hass avocado variety – talk about avocado royalty!
Here are some of the produce items we regularly source from Brokaw:
five types of avocados, winter citrus & guavas!
KASHIWASE FARMS (Winton, CA)
Kashiwase Farms is an organic farm in Winton, CA, certified in 1997, run by third-generation farmer Steven Kashiwase and his wife Lisa. After immigrating from Japan in the 1920s, Steven’s grandfather purchased 20 acres in the central valley, of which remains a part of Kashiwase’s land today. Specializing in organic tree fruits and nuts, the farm produces the most notable stone fruit and almonds sold in the Bay!
Here are some of the produce items we regularly source from Kashiwase:
Peaches, nectarines & so many different varieties of plums and pluots!