We’re sharing a glimpse of life in an organic garden just ripe for this heavenly time of year! A few hours drive up from San Francisco, the Stanford Inn sits on the seaside cliffs of the Mendocino coast, a unique and sustainable property with so much wellness education to offer we find ourselves overwhelmed by their service menu! Every aspect of this eco-resort is built and managed in tune with it’s (jaw-droppingly gorgeous) environment and guests of the inn have access to everything from wild foraging trips, to traditional herb classes and gardening workshops within it’s certified organic gardens.
We asked The Stanford Inn’s head gardener, Jaime Jensen, to give us a tour of her harvest-ready garden, including the bright red stalks of one of our favorite grains, which we’d never actually seen grown! Here is Jaime…
The Chalkboard Mag: What is grown in the Inn’s gardens and how did you decide what to plant?
Jaime Jensen: There are four categories of plants that I grow:
Vegetables for Ravens [the Inn’s restaurant]: kale, chard, lettuce, mixed greens, potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, leeks, scallions,edible flowers and herbs.
Grains as teaching tools: I often meet people in the garden who are very interested in growing grains. This year we have small sections of quinoas, wheat, rye, and triticale.
Flowers: We grow fresh flowers for the inn and for weddings hosted at the Inn.
Medicinal: We grow medicinal plants for Three Springs Institute, the Chinese medicine center on site.
TCM: How long has the garden been around for and what inspired its beginnings?
JJ: Before we began Stanford Inn’s Big River Nurseries, the land had been gardens from the 1800s up until 1911. At that time, the land was divided into small plots and rented to Chinese gardeners, who grew produce for the lumber company cooks. Because of that, the farm was called “The China Gardens” and there was a significant spring to provide water. In 1985, five years after purchasing the Stanford Inn, Joan and Jeff Stanford began composting all food wastes from breakfast and landscaping cuttings, completed a new leach field, and decided to reinstate the original gardens. Jeff and Kris Williams double dug the first beds in October of that year, having prepped the land by green manuring with crimson clover. A short time later, Jeff changed his mind from simply landscaping and creating a small cut-flower garden, and decided to make the land a vegetable garden instead.
In 1988, Master Gardener Dana Ecelberger introduced the concept of leaving wild spaces to preserve habitats for birds and reptiles – our “pesticides.”
Currently, I see the gardens as a safe and nurturing place for people to relax and engage in the natural systems that support them.
TCM: Where did your passion for gardening come from?
JJ: I was lucky enough to grow up in an area with a lot of wild lands, with a family that has a great appreciation for those lands. I think my love of wild things in nature ultimately drew me to sustainable farming. Well, that and I also love cooking, and there is nothing that tastes better than vegetables from the garden.
TCM: What ‘kind’ of garden is the Stanford Inn Garden?
JJ: We use a lot of bio-intensive methods, with some Stanford flare. We are also certified organic.
TCM: Your favorite time of year as a gardener:
JJ: Right now it is fall, but it changes with the seasons!
TCM: Do you grow medicinal or non-food-purpose plants?
JJ: We have a large section of gardens dedicated to Chinese and western medicine herbs.
TCM: You grow quinoa, which we’ve never seen in a garden before. How is it harvested?
JJ: When the seeds are mature, we cut the plant at the base and hang it upside down to dry. When the quinoa is dry and brittle, we clean the seeds by using seed screens to separate the chaff from the seed. The last step is winnowing, which is a process using the wind to remove the last of the chaff.
TCM: What’s the strangest thing you grow in the garden?
JJ: Espazote. It’s an herb used mostly in beans.
TCM: Your favorite thing grown in the garden:
JJ: It’s like asking a mother to choose her favorite child…
TCM: Most rewarding moment in gardening:
JJ: We have interns and guests who work in the garden occasionally, some for long periods of time, some for shorter periods of time. I think that the most rewarding part of gardening is getting to work with this group of people. It is amazing the way that a garden can change lives.
TCM: What are your five best tips for home gardeners in California?
JJ: Love the plants. Accept the failures. Work hard, but don’t stress. Take time to observe. Treat pests with the same compassion that you would treat humans.
TCM: Best thing to grow first for a beginner:
JJ: Whatever is most interesting to the person growing.
TCM: Recommended resource, tool or book:
JJ: How to Grow More Vegetables (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) by John Jeavons.
TCM: Best tip for “green” gardening:
JJ: Grow soil.
TCM: Fall recipe at the Inn from the garden:
JJ: Here’s a recipe from the Inn’s Ravens Restaurant for Rustic Savory Autumn Roasted Apple, a stuffed apple with a side of root vegetables and greens, for you to enjoy.
Rustic Autumn Roasted Apples with Roots and Greens
8 to 10 large seasonal baking apples such as Crispin, Keepsake, Granny Smith or Suncrisp
1 cup red quinoa
1 cup wild rice
1⁄2 cup pecans and hazelnuts, toasted
1⁄2 cup butternut squash (or any seasonal squash), cubed
4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 Tbsp dried thyme)
1 sprig rosemary
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, zested
2 cloves garlic, roasted
1 cup cubed parsnips, roasted (roast at same time as roots below)
1 cup cubed carrots, roasted (roast at same time as roots below)
1 Tbsp roasted red beet (roast at same time as roots below)
1 cup cashews, soaked, covered, in vegetable stock for 1 hour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp shallot, minced
2 Tbsp mirin or white dry cooking wine
2 tsp garam masala
1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper
Slice the top off the apples, and some of the bottoms, so they sit upright. Reserve the tops of the apples for later.
Core apples using a grapefruit spoon or apple corer, making room for the quinoa, wild rice and nut mixture. Slather the apples with 1 Tbsp sunflower oil and 1 tsp salt. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes, until slightly wrinkly. Let cool.
Cook quinoa and wild rice in separate pots until tender, using a 1-to-2 ratio of quinoa to water or stock and a 1-to-3 ratio to the wild rice.
Toast nuts at 350 F for 8 to 9 minutes, watching they do not burn.
Roast garlic and shallot, covered in foil, at 400 F for 15 mins.
Let all ingredients cool.
Combine roasted vegetables (see recipe below) lemon zest, olive oil, squash, pine nuts, thyme into quinoa/wild rice mixture. Chop roasted shallot into small pieces and put into mixture. Squeeze roasted garlic into quinoa mixture.
Fill apples with mixture, bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer at 350 F.
Sauté the garlic and shallot in salt and sunflower oil. Deglaze the pan with mirin or white cooking wine.
Puree the cooled garlic/shallot/wine mixture with remaining sauce ingredients, plus 1 tsp of salt or more, to taste. Heat in pan until simmering, whisk for 1 min longer.
Place sauce on the bottom of a large plate or bowl, place stuffed apple off to one side. Place greens (recipe below) stacked with height to the left of the apple, place roots (recipe below) to the right of the apple. Garnish greens with toasted pumpkin seed.
© 2013 Ravens Restaurant | Stanford Inn
Roasted Root Vegetables
1 cup cubed parsnips, roasted
1 cup cubed carrots, roasted
2 cups cubed beets, roasted
Toss all cubed root vegetables lightly in sunflower oil and salt. Roast in oven at 400 F for 15 to 20 mins. Roast beets in separate pan to keep colors separate.
© 2013 Ravens Restaurant | Stanford Inn
Steamed Greens with Pumpkin Seeds
1 bunch kale, such as dinosaur, Russian or frilly
1⁄2 bunch rainbow chard
1 bunch bok or pak choy
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt
salted and toasted pumpkin seeds
De-rib greens with hands or knife, and set leaves aside. Heat 1 cup water or stock in large pan or wok, and steam greens with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp lemon. Garnish with salted and toasted pumpkin seeds.
© 2013 Ravens Restaurant | Stanford Inn