About this project
"I firmly believe, from what I have seen, that this is the chosen spot of all this earth as far as nature is concerned." Luther Burbank, Horticulturalist — 1875
Fog Valley Crush is my love letter in book form to my favorite micro-region of farmers, food innovators, artists and dreamers — featuring friends, neighbors and key players, past and present.
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As a British/American journalist and lifestyle columnist based in the heart of the most bountiful foodshed in the American West, I'm drawn to the best of today's farm to table offerings in the area from the ardent home cook, modern-day settler and professional storyteller's perspective.
Join me on an in-depth romp through the farming history and renaissance of the Gold Rush Rivertown city of Petaluma and Pacific coastal countryside, 40 miles north of San Francisco, California.
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Part memoir, part reportage, Fog Valley Crush spans two continents, with a brief glimpse into the lives of several generations of country folk who farmed the half land of earth and water, the mystical East Anglian Fens of my native U.K., to my home from home in the ancient Miwok tribal hunting grounds that are the super fertile southern Sonoma and coastal west Marin Northern California counties.
Many thousands of hours have been dedicated to the research and reporting, three years of writing and editing of Fog Valley Crush. Each individual pledge supports the realization of this book from writer's desk (and kitchen table), to a beautifully designed physical text.
As with the best of literary portraits of place, Fog Valley Crush opens a door into a destination in which you, as reader will be inspired to roam and taste for yourself.
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Specially selected black and white images from my roving reporter's photo files (see below for a few in their original, full-color format) offer extra insight into the culture of the area, placed at the end of each chapter.
This softcover book will be around 300 pages long, 6 x 9 inches in size, featuring 20 chapters, each with its own suitably appealing and rustic country-song title. It will be bound with a quality cover, specially designed to be flexible, the sort of book I like to tote around for a quick diversional read while out and about and one that feels good in the hands.
Chapter 1 - "Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy"
A Curious Invitation to Dine
Chapter 2 - "Wide Open Spaces"
The Region's First Inhabitants
Chapter 3 - "Home on the Range"
An Anglo-Italian Household
Chapter 4 - "Small Town USA"
At Home in the Egg Basket of the World
Chapter 5 - "Family Tradition"
Just Like Italy! Roots
Chapter 6 - "Sixteen Tons"
How to Make Wine
Chapter 7 - "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink"
Contraband Root Stock, Prohibition and Today's Cool Climate Premium Wine Pioneers
Chapter 8 - "Don't Fence Me In"
Biodynamic Farming, A Slice of the Farm Bill Pie, Farm Interns
Chapter 9 - "Bring on the Rain"
Water Footprint and Drought
Chapter 10 - "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On"
Trout, Rabbit and Other Slow Food Devotees
Chapter 11 - "Mammas Do(n't) Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowgirls"
Artisan Cheese Visionaries and Pioneers Shape the New Normandy
Chapter 12 - "Big Ol' Brew"
Craft Micro-Beer Making
Chapter 13 - "Wildwood Flower"
Heirloom Seeds, Woolly Whackers and Chinese Herbs
Chapter 14 - "Walking After Midnight"
Owl Boxes, A Cackling Coven Cafe
Chapter 15 - "All the Gold in California"
Chapter 16 - "Cafe on the Corner"
Social and Cultural - Slow Food Well Served
Chapter 17 - "The Grand Tour"
Out West - Goat, Times Two, Rack and Stew, The Oyster Trail, Overnight at Ruthie's Cottage
Chapter 18 - "Down on the Farm"
Chileno Valley - Fine and Fiber Arts and Thanksgiving in the Red Barn
Chapter 19 - "Mama Sang a Song"
Preserving, Canning and The Little Red Bench
Chapter 20 - "Take Me Home Country Road"
Reinventing the Farm Wheel, Agricultural Forefront and a Fall Forager's Dinner
I've sought out the most awesome dream team to work with me on the aesthetic and design of Fog Valley Crush. Friend and fellow-settler, editor Elaine Silver was instrumental from the get-go in the writing of this book. Northern California-based illustrator extraordinaire, Nicky Ovitt's pen and ink lettering and sketches are perfection on the page. Maven of international and domestic print, professional book guru and graphic designer, Lorna Johnson's hands-on, meticulous and unflappable guidance make for the perfect pairing in transforming the book into print.
Hours spent in the Petaluma Historical Museum and Library revealed a heritage of delightful and original regional recipes, several of which have made it into the book to illustrate the timeless simplicity of sourcing fresh, seasonal and local foods for today's home cooking. I've also featured a few of my own family's homespun vineyard-kitchen favorites. You'll find a short recipe at the end of each chapter.
A million and one thank-you's to Rocco Rivetti and Gilles O'Kane for so kindly agreeing to having been called back home for a day or two to produce such a beautiful and evocative book trailer.
I feel passionately about this book being independently published in today's re-energized spirit of the can-do pioneer. By raising funds through crowd sourcing, we retain full creative control. Jump on board the foodie-wagon, we're ready to roll.
With your help in funding this Kickstarter project, a minimum goal of $7,500 will cover the basics for an initial limited edition "First Vintage" print run. These first edition books are anticipated to arrive in Petaluma, CA, by mid to late November, 2014. The costs involved in building a book are considerable – any additional funds raised over and above this minimum goal will be put to good work in the production process of this and any subsequent editions.
Risks and challenges
Fog Valley Crush is fully edited, formulated and ready to take to the next level. Its super talented Petaluma CA-based print logistics and design team is poised to make it every bit as polished and perfectly packaged as the best of books of its kind. The only risk involved in backing this project is if print production time takes slightly longer than projected. Backers will be informed if there are any unanticipated delays in the production process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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