Thursday, October 6, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 32
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Roblar Farm celebrates the grand opening of its new market garden and farm stand

CALEB WISEBLOOD

For Roblar Farm’s patrons and lead farmer, the venue’s new market garden is nothing less than a win-win. 

“We’re not just doing the traditional farm stand varieties, I’m putting some things out on the table that honestly don’t sell all that great,” said farm director Michael Vining, who has been enjoying the experimentation aspect of operating an intimate market garden.


WHAT’S UP, DOC?
Vegetables at Roblar Farm that are ripe now were planted in March, farm director Michael Vining explained, before listing off some examples of “cold weather crops,” including carrots, beets, and broccoli.
COURTESY PHOTO BY REBECCA NUSS

Vining is using the new 3-acre garden to grow several kinds of vegetables, fruits, and herbs at once—for example, “three rows of broccoli, three rows of cabbage, three rows of lettuce,” and so on, he said—rather than produce bulk amounts of fewer varieties. 

This process allows patrons of Roblar’s new farm stand—which opened at the end of May—to choose from a wide variety of offerings, and it simultaneously grants Vining the opportunity to grow a handful of rare items.

“I grew a bunch of chervil. … People don’t know what chervil is. It’s like a French parsley. It’s unique, you know? And I just want to expose people to it,” Vining said. “There’s an education component to it. We’re trying to expose people to heirloom and rare varieties and teach people a little bit about more diverse types of greens and vegetables they can have rather than just, you know, the standard corn, tomatoes, and zucchini, that kind of stuff.”

Veggie trail
Roblar Farm’s farm stand is located on the corner of Refugio Road and Roblar Avenue, right outside Roblar Winery, in Santa Ynez. Visit roblarwinery.com to find out more about the farm stand, as well as Roblar Farm’s community-supported agriculture (CSA) program.

Vining has worked as a contractor for Gleason Family Vineyards, which owns Roblar Farm, for about seven years. In 2021, he became Roblar’s farm director and initiated the development of the venue’s new permanent farm stand, which is now open to the public seven days a week.

Born and raised in Goleta, Vining briefly left the Central Coast during his college years to study agriculture at UC Santa Cruz. His background in organic farming prepared him for his role at Roblar Farm, where he has also spearheaded the community-supported agriculture (CSA) program.


STAND BY ME
Roblar Farm’s new farm stand, which opened to the public at the end of May, is open seven days a week and offers several varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
COURTESY PHOTO BY REBECCA NUSS

Members of the CSA are invited to the farm every weekend to pick up a box of produce—about $25 worth of fruit, vegetables, farm eggs, honey, and more, with other options available. The 22-week program kicked off on June 4 and will run through Oct. 29.

Vining said he has a text thread with some CSA patrons and recently sent out a list of chervil-centric recipes to the group chat.

Vegetables at the farm stand that are ripe now were planted earlier this year, around March, Vining explained, before listing off some examples of “cold weather crops”—carrots, beets, and broccoli. Flowers and herbs also grow in the garden.

Vining has recently been observing the 18 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes growing at the farm.


CHALK OF THE TOWN
Farm director Michael Vining is using Roblar’s new 3-acre market garden to grow several kinds of vegetables at once—for example, “three rows of broccoli, three rows of cabbage, three rows of lettuce,” he said—rather than produce bulk amounts of just a few varieties.
COURTESY PHOTO BY REBECCA NUSS

“I’m tracking the results to see which ones are well adapted to our climate, and sharing those results with our community as well,” said the farm director, who added that the tomatoes should be ripe in July.

“Any farm stand is always going to track the seasons more than the supermarket,” Vining said.

While most grocery stores carry the same kinds of fruits and vegetables, imported from various areas, year-round, Roblar Farm’s crop supply depends on the season.

“At the farm stand, I’m not going to have a tomato in December—unless I’m really lucky,” Vining said with a laugh.

Vining and his family joined several other families and individuals in celebrating the farm stand’s grand opening on May 28. The event included live entertainment, an outdoor barbecue, and a petting zoo-esque opportunity for guests to visit with Roblar Farm’s babydoll sheep.


EGGCELLENT DEAL
Members of Roblar Farm’s community-supported agriculture (CSA) program are invited to the farm stand every weekend to pick up a box of produce—about $25 worth of fruit, vegetables, farm eggs, honey, and more. The program kicked off on June 4 and will run through Oct. 29.
COURTESY PHOTO BY REBECCA NUSS

“We have babydoll sheep that we use for grazing in our vineyards. They’re super, super sweet, perfect for kids to come in and pet and get close to,” Vining said. “We had a bunch of families there [at the grand opening] with their children. 

“We served food to at least 120 people, but there were never 120 people there at one time of course,” Vining added, as guests trickled in and out throughout the event, which ran from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Local artists provided live music during the celebration as well, which really helped amp up the festivities, Vining said.

“The music added a lot to it,” the farmer said. “There were even people dancing there at one point. It was a great event.”

Send toe-tapping and grape-stomping comments to Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood at cwiseblood@santamariasun.com.










Weekly Poll
Should Twitchell Dam operators prioritize the health of the Santa Maria River’s steelhead trout during scheduled water releases?

Yes, environmentalists have argued for years that Twitchell Dam operators are ignoring endangered species laws.
No, the dam's No. 1 priority should be conserving rainy season water for groundwater recharge.
Maybe, I need to know how much water would be released in the winter and spring to support the trout population.
Can’t talk now, gone fishing!

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