A feast of local holiday fare available in Mendocino County
By Justine Frederiksen, Ukiah Daily Journal
If your goal this year was to create a Thanksgiving feast entirely from items produced in Mendocino County, you could just about do it.
Provided, however, you could do without locally grown cranberries. Or celery. And yes, sweet potatoes or yams.
“No cranberries are grown locally that I’m aware of,” said Libee Uhuru, produce manager at Ukiah Natural Food Co-op, which was swarming early Tuesday afternoon with folks filling their carts with holiday necessities.
“We’ve also never had local celery,” said Uhuru, recalling that once someone out of “northwest Willits,” which doesn’t get as hot as the Ukiah Valley, sold celery starts. “But it’s typically not cool enough here to grow celery.”
As for the rest of the items you might need, Mendocino County producers have it covered:
• Turkey: You can buy a free-range, organic turkey from Sisters’ Ridge Farm in Calpella, although they’re likely sold out by now. If you’d prefer chicken instead, you can buy one from Sisters’ Ridge, or from Mendocino Organics in Redwood Valley, which also sells an assortment of pork products. (Meat from Mendocino Organics can be found at the Co-op or the Westside Renaissance Market, as well as local grass-fed beef from John Ford of Willits and MacGruder Ranch of Potter Valley.
If you’d prefer smoked meats, you can buy them from Roundman’s Smoke House in Fort Bragg.
• Stuffing: While you can’t buy local celery for your stuffing, you can find “sweet candy onions” grown by Irene’s Garden Produce of Laytonville.
For the bread crumbs, you can buy a loaf of bread from Fort Bragg Bakery or Roland’s Bakery of Willits and make your own bread crumbs, or you can buy a bag of ready-to-use bread crumbs from Fort Bragg Bakery.
• Mashed potatoes: Uhuru said she does not sell locally grown russet or red potatoes, which most of her customers are looking for this week, but she does have fingerling potatoes grown in Laytonville.
• Squash: Uhuru stocks many types of squash from Redwood Valley’s Inland Ranch, such as acorn and Sugar Pie Pumpkins, and other varieties she swears are great for pumpkin pies, like Hokkaido, grown by New Moon Farm in southern Humboldt County.
• Rolls: An assortment of rolls are made by Fort Bragg Bakery and Roland’s Bakery.
• Pies: So many people swear by Kemmy’s Pies of Willits that the Co-op bought stacks and stacks of them. At the Westside Renaissance Market Tuesday, owner Scott Cratty had a sign in the window promising that he had ordered more, and that customers should come in and “put your dibs on them.”
One woman on her way out of the store on Clay Street Tuesday declared, “You haven’t lived until you’ve had a Kemmy’s Pie!”
The flavors offered include apple crumb, pumpkin and pumpkin nut, and Uhuru raved about the newest flavor made for those who need to avoid dairy and gluten: Lavender Pear.
If you want to make your own pie, there is no shortage of local apples, and you can also buy local flour from the Mendocino Grain Project, which is sold by the pound at both the Co-op and the Westside Renaissance Market.
• Beer and wine: Several local sparking wines, many produced in the Anderson Valley, can be found in local stores, as well as beers made by the Anderson Valley Brewing Company.