Three unique farms in your county
With some exceptions (notably Vallejo’s), most farmers markets in Solano County run seasonally. But this area’s temperate climate and rich soils produce wholesome, nutritious, and distinct foods throughout the year and venues abound for those who know where to look.
Depending on where you live, a quest for fresh fruit might set you on a scenic country drive or a short walk in search of an alleyway’s hidden treasures. Wherever you arrive, you’ll find world-class produce, honeys, oils, teas, and more.
Tom Inners, of Umbel Roots Farm, says that the “diversity of both our fields and the greater farming community here makes Solano County a fun place to farm.”
Whether it’s wide-opened farmland or city centers, the varied terrain reflects a unifying fact: Solano County is a great place to grow food and we’ve got great people doing it.
Matilija Farm, Benicia
100 Kuhland Alley, Benicia, CA 94510
The smallest and westernmost farm on this list sits off First Street in downtown Benicia, huddled behind the Avant Community Garden.
Stephany and Akhil, a couple formerly farming a lot near Tomales Bay, decided to keep Matilija Farm open twenty-four hours a day for cash and Venmo purchases. Although the farm operates on the honor system, the stand seems semi-supervised by curious chickens nearby.
Baskets stacked on haybales with attractively chalked displays contain all stripes of California-sourced vegetables, fruits, and honeys. A recent visit produced Asian Pears and delicata and spaghetti squashes from Tenbrink Farms, the first farm to reach a conservation agreement with Solano Land Trust.
Located blocks from the Main Street Farmers Market, the stand makes year-round food available at a walkable and bikeable distance for the 28,000 residents of the small city.
Matilija Farm also offers cakes & pies by special order. The cakes are decorated with flowers, vegetables, and flowers from the Farms’ garden and local growers. The site boasts the cakes are an edible “celebration of all the best of the bounty around us.”
Katz Farm, Fairfield
101 S Coombs St #3, Napa, CA 94559
(This is the wholesale store address. The farm is in the Suisun Valley; orders available through their online store)
For a Californian visiting a Mediterranean country like Italy or Greece, it’s not uncommon to taste the exquisite olive oil and savor something you wish grew back home. It’s not envy; it’s observation. The climate feels similar, the hills look alike, so why not here?
Albert Katz and his family have spent more than forty years in the business pressing award-winning extra virgin olive oil. Katz Farms has thirty acres of mature groves that are CCOF certified organic in Suisun Valley. The company produces an eloquent and informative newsletter, where the passion comes through clearly.
“Tasting the first fragrant and flavorful oil that trickles out of the press is pure joy, and it helps put a lot of the difficult year in the rear-view mirror, at least for that moment when the stars are aligned once again.”
The latest pressing combines Leccino and Frantoio varieties into an Olio Nuovo with hints of “grassiness, spiciness, and greenness that are typical in our youthful oil.”
Katz Farm also sells honey, apple cider vinegar, and a variety of culinary essentials online.
Umbel Roots Farm
2221 Julian Lane, Fairfield, CA, 94534
Named after the clustered flowering structures found in elderberry, dill, parsley, and other plants, Umbel Roots bills itself as a “a collaboration of land, creativity, community, and continued evolution farming.”
Their CSA presently offers weekly boxes of six to eight seasonal vegetables for pickup and delivery to locations in Solano, Napa, and Sonoma County, along with Marin and the East Bay.
Wintertime staples include Nero Tondo, KN Bravo, and Watermelon radishes. Farmer Tom Inners says “these varieties tend to grow bigger, more tender, and less spicy than the French breakfast varieties popular in spring & summer. We love them grilled or confit in butter!”
CSA subscribers can also add the farm’s unique herbal teas selection to the mix.
“Herbal Tea came as an idea of how we could use edible flowers and dried herbs and tell the story of a particular season at hand,” Tom says.
True to the creative spirit, the farm occasionally hosts dinners on the property and even curates its own playlist.
Photos of Matilija Farm by Samuel James Adams. The photos for Katz Farm and Umbell Roots Farm are from their websites.