Monday, March 31, 2008

Epilogue: 1st CRFG Coffee Klatch

The first CRFG Coffee Klatch was a success, judging by feedback from attendees. Attending and mingling were Keitha Mara and her son Ethan, new member Ellen Chang and her mother Sherry, Louise Ostrom and her friend Jim, Shonduel, Dave McIntyre, and yours truly. We had quite a feast - more than we could finish. Keitha and Ethan brought bananas they'd grown themselves and dried. They were quite good!

We began the proceedings by watching a bit of the Orange County chapter's grafting DVD. It's a heckuva a bargain for $12! Then we moved on to the main event - watching "Eat at Bill's - Life at the Monterey Market". For those not in the know, Monterey Market is located across the street from Berkeley Horticultural Nursery and is renowned for the quality of its produce. The film was made by sometime CRFG member, Churchill Orchard co-owner and Peachpit Press author Lisa Brenneis. She and her husband Jim Churchill, with the help of Monterey Market owner Bill Fujimoto, brought the 'Pixie' cultivar of mandarin to the notice of foodies everywhere. She felt there was a story in Bill's enthusiasm for quality produce and the way he helps to support small farmers so she made a documentary film. The film has been shown in the Berkeley area and the DVD is available for purchase at Monterey Market and also online.

Shonduel said, "This film makes me so happy!" And it does do that. It's great to see farmers, chefs, shoppers, market owners and employees so happy and fulfilled in their work. These are people who love fruit and care about how it's grown and brought to the public.

After the film, we took a quick tour 'round my yard, looking wistfully at the vacant business lot next door and wishing we could plant it full of fruit. We talked a bit about guerilla gardening and guerilla grafting. I mentioned the International Guerilla Sunflower Day coming up on May 1. Ellen, a Master Composter, heard my pleas for more Eisenia foetida and opened her purse to produce a handful of red wriggler worms for my worm composter! A member said "It's like Aladdin's lamp - you just wished for worms and they appeared!"

I think we all had a good time. I encourage folks to host coffee klatches in their own neighborhoods so they can get to know their fellow CRFG members in a setting more conducive to mingling than the meetings might be.

Garden Tour Etiquette

I've now held a couple CRFG events at my house and I have some thoughts about tour etiquette that I thought I should disseminate before the upcoming tours at Gene Lester's, Idell's and Shyaam Shabaka's.

Remember that you are a guest at someone's home and/or garden. Please don't pick or harvest plants/seeds/fruit/budwood/scionwood without first receiving permission. Not everyone shares the same approach to their garden. While you may actively encourage people to take fruit, to pick flower and plants, etc. someone else might feel violated if their property is messed with without their permission. ALWAYS ASK FIRST. This applies whether you are touring a CRFG member's house or whether you're touring a large facility like Wolfskill. Bad behavior on tours reflects poorly on our chapter and can result in us being banned from ever being allowed to tour a site again.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Help Wanted - Inquire Within

If this chapter is to survive, we must fill these volunteer posts that are empty or soon to be empty:

Newsletter Editor - creates a newsletter which is distributed via email to those who have email and by USPS to those who do not have computer Internet access. Also keeps track of the membership database although that could (and probably should) be spun out to a separate volunteer post.

Treasurer - Takes care of chapter finances, notifies membership database person of any new membership dues that are sent to the chapter, etc.

Chair - I took on this post in September of 2007 and will step down in September of 2008. It involves answering the email that comes to the chapter email address, planning and scheduling chapter meetings and events, coordinating the efforts of chapter volunteers, etc. I'd be happy to give an orientation to my successor, whoever that may be. In fact, I'm fairly sure any of the volunteers who have formerly held any of the offices listed here would be happy to help new volunteers come up-to-speed on what the job duties are and what has worked best in the past.

First Chapter Coffee Klatch 3/30 1pm

Sunday, March 30, 2008 -1:00 PM

One of the most rewarding things about California Rare Fruit Growers
is the people. But not everyone is gregarious or brave enough to be
the one to break the ice. I know I don’t feel like I am. I’d like to
start chapter coffee klatches for months in which we don’t have a
meeting. We can get together for drinks, refreshments, even movies!
I’ll kick it off with a coffee klatch at my house in Berkeley on
March 30th to watch Eat at Bill’'s - a film by Lisa Brenneis (of
Churchill Orchard in Ojai) about Bill Fujimoto of Monterey Market.
It’s a great look not only at how one market can make a difference in
how customers perceive and buy produce, but an interesting
introduction to small growers who raise unusual produce, often

Email me at for the address.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Feeling Left Out?

Haven't gotten a newsletter in a while?


- Your email address has changed and you haven't apprised us of that.

- Your chapter membership has lapsed.

Pop an email to the chapter either giving us your updated contact information or double-checking your membership status. Or if you know it's been a while since you paid your membership dues, Send 10 clams to the address listed on our local chapter website.

Once we get your email address and have made sure that your membership is current, you will be invited to join our chapter's Yahoo Group. That is how our newsletter, announcements, and late-breaking news will be distributed. As we have no volunteer in the position of Newsletter Editor at the moment, it's doubly important you sign up. All news that is meant for current members only will be distributed via our chapter's Yahoo Group. I love the smell of the 21st Century in the morning...