The Winters Farm to School Sixth Annual Bastille Day Feast, held on Saturday, July 8th, was their largest feast yet. Held at the historic Wolfskill Ranch, over 270 guests sat down at one, very long table to enjoy a leisurely, delicious multi-course meal featuring all local food and drink. Although most of the guests were from Yolo County, a few traveled from across the county line, from other states and even a couple from Australia to join in the fun!
The event began with an early morning Walking Tour of the UC Davis Experimental Orchards led by Dr. Brad Hansen with the UCD Plant Sciences Department. Participants learned about the research that UC Davis conducts on the Wolfskill property, which focuses primarily on tree crops and strawberries. Over the years, professors and students have been developing new varieties that promote plant health, higher yields, disease resistance and better taste and quality for consumers.
Around 11:30 a.m., more guests began to arrive and gathered under the canopy of a huge, 160 year old pecan tree for conversation, delicious appetizers and refreshing, cool drinks. Placed under and around the tree were over fifty auction items donated by local businesses and community members. From artwork to gift baskets to sporting events, there was something for everyone.
While guests enjoyed appetizers, Dr. John Preece, Research Leader for the USDA side of the Wolfskill property, shared a brief history of the Wolfskill Ranch which plays a large part in the development of Winters and the surrounding area. Researchers on the USDA side of the Wolfskill property work to preserve all varieties of stone fruits and grapes for our and future generations. Dr. Preece shared the story that in 1966, world-renown photographer Ansel Adams was commissioned to take photographs of all the Universities of California existing at that time. As part of Adam’s UC Davis collection, he took a black and white photo of the old olive trees (planted by John Wolfskill) lining the driveway into the Wolfskill property. These are the same olive trees that guests of the Bastille Day Feast sit under for the meal. A large copy of that 1966 photo was auctioned at this year’s feast.
Around 1 p.m., guests took their seats and tucked in for a two-hour feast. Prepared by Buckhorn Catering, the menu included a first course of tomatoes and corn bathed in basil and olive oil and topped with Burrata Cheese, a second course of zucchini and corn fritters with aioli, and a third course of grilled potatoes and green beans, topped with herbs and lemon Dijon vinaigrette. The main course, prepared on site by John Pickerel and crew, was a churrasco prime rib topped with salsa verde, alongside grilled summer vegetables. Delicious shortcake, with summer fruits and whipped cream, completed the meal.
Farms contributing to the meal included Capay Organic & Farm Fresh to You, Citrona Farms, Fully Belly Farms, Terra Firma Farms, Seka Hills and Pure Honey. Beer was donated by Berryessa Brewing Company and wines poured throughout the feast were donated by Berryessa Gap Vineyards and Sterling Vineyards.
Melanie Bajakian, President of Winters Farm to School, welcomed everyone and introduced this year’s guest speaker, Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar Curry. Winters Farm to School was recently selected by Curry as an exceptional non-profit organization in her district and was honored at a luncheon reception at the State Capitol. Curry highlighted the work of Winters Farm to School and praised the local community for being so supportive of our children. During her presentation, Curry surprised the Winters Farm to School Board Members by presenting them with a State Assembly Resolution highlighting their work to boost the health and well-being of our community’s children.
The Bastille Day Feast has become a favorite summer fundraiser in the area. Monies raised at
the feast are used to purchase fresh, local fruits, nuts and produce for our school district’s meal programs. Funds are also used to support gardens at Waggoner and Rominger Schools and to keep the weekly Kids Farmers Market going at Waggoner School.