Grist for the Mill
Here in Butte County we live under the influence of the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history and 2018’s most costly natural disaster worldwide. Stories in this issue of Edible Shasta-Butte peek into that reality. There’s no way to tell all the stories of how the Camp Fire has affected people in the local food community, nor even that fraction that come to our attention.
The first story I heard came from Heath Dewey of Tender Loving coffee roastery and bistro in Chico. He and one of the Tender Loving chefs (whose house burned) went down to help cook food with World Central Kitchen soon after the fire. Dewey introduced himself and Tender Loving to WCK people, and they responded something like, “Cool, we need coffee.” Dewey was ecstatic: “You need coffee? I got coffee!”—and thus started a chain of giving wherein Tender Loving supplied coffee for evacuees and contacted other west coast roasters, who then donated too.
There are many similar stories of giving: stories about Ann Leon of Leon’s Bistro, Amanda Leveroni of Bacio’s, the Kennemers of Unwined, local Soroptomists’ clubs, Kleen Canteen, Six Degrees Coffee, From the Hearth in Red Bluff, church groups, individuals. Impossible to tally. We tell a few within these pages.
And so many stories of loss and moving onward. Mike Fritt of Golden Feather Tea farm in Concow lost his home, tea barn, and outbuildings; many tea plants now regenerate. In Paradise, Green Paradise Café and Juice & Java burned; Jena Trzaskalski plans to launch a food truck while she awaits a loan to rebuild the café, and Geoffrey Greitzer works in a temporary Chico warehouse as he resumes production of kegs of NorCal Nitro. Stories of loss and moving on are impossible to tally, too. We offer but a few here in this magazine.
It’s such a small gesture. When I drove up to Paradise four months after the fire to take photos at Noble Orchards for the article on page xx, my first trip there since the Camp Fire, I felt disoriented, shocked, deeply saddened. We found Laurie and Jim Noble simply working on the farm they plan to rebuild. Jim’s leather work gloves looked almost new. As we were leaving, Laurie held up a piece of melted glass. “Look at this,” she said. A section of car window had cracked, melted, and stretched. The window must have been closed, and the weight of glass melting had formed a hole. Laurie’s finger curled through the hole as she held the sculpture up for us to see. It reminded me of a flattened, blown glass teardrop. “I’m going to use this as an ornament somewhere,” she declared.
I am enormously grateful to the people who talked with our writers and photographers for this issue. It couldn’t have been easy. Their stories run deep; we have moved in their current. Readers, I hope that, in some small way, this magazine brings you along too.
In the months since the Camp Fire, folks at Bulldog Brewery’s growler nights have gathered to drink Resilience beer and share stories. Hope, help, and hops, sold one beer at a time, benefit fire survivors Sierra Nevada Brewery has been called the …Read More
Silas cradles a lamb. A stately oak stood proudly on the west side of the farm, lording the expanse of its limbs over the court of saplings and manzanita below. The oak weathered decades of winter winds and summer swelter, …Read More
Kala found her new bread oven in the burned rubble that was her home. THEN: In my home at 6208 Fern Lane in Paradise before the fire, I rise under the light of the moon to grab up big scoops of …Read More
During the natural emergency of the Camp Fire, much of Chico closed until the chaos subsided and the smoke cleared. Although California State University, Chico, was shuttered for two weeks after the fire, the emergency centers were open immediately for …Read More
Though most of his Paradise hives were lost, Mike Wofcheck still offers honey at several stores in Chico. “The cars were full of drums,” said Mike Wofchuck, percussionist and beekeeper, about his family’s evacuation from Paradise during the Camp Fire. “I …Read More
The day before the fire, the Nobles had just finished harvesting the orchard’s signature Pink Lady apples, and had placed them in the cold storage building with the earlier-harvested varieties. Here is how the Nobles found the apples when they …Read More
Friends, partners, collaborators, cohabitors . . . Grown together, plants can be more than the sum of their parts Did you know that plants form alliances? Like humans, plants do better when they associate with other plants for mutual benefit, such …Read More
co-author: Candace Byrne During and after the Camp Fire, Paul Lema and his son Erik learned all about feeding as many as 30,000 people every day for over four months. When Paul Lema, the original “Italian Guy” behind Italian Guy Catering in …Read More
On Turkey Tail Farm, Samantha Zangrilli and Cheetah Tchudi rethink their operation since the Camp Fire destroyed their home and farm infrastructure, including two hoop houses where Tchudi grew oyster mushrooms. He now intends to use the fungi to help …Read More
“The #krautvan is extremely popular with certain segments. In Cottonwood, it’s all about the birds and the bees. @HOOKERCREEKFARM “Taking care of Melly is a piece of cake compared to a few years ago when we had seven bottle babies at once. " "Tessa …Read More
After his house burned in the Carr Fire, Joe Furnari (center) got by with a lot of help from friends like Scott Marquis (left), who kept stuffing sausages despite the fire, and another friend, who styles himself sausage mixologist. Joe …Read More
Making use of stale bread is easy—people have been developing ways to do this for centuries—but it can get a little boring if all that occurs to you is bread pudding or French toast. If you have a food processor, …Read More
Jerry and John Mendon ran Mendon’s Nursery from this office for forty-five years. Jerry died in August, 2017, and John will sell the nursery as a result of the Camp Fire. What happened on the eight acres of Mendon’s Nursery …Read More