Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends – June 2021

Doug Stonebreaker has had a presence at the Grand Lake Farmers Market going back to 2003, when Prather Ranch introduced us all to dry-aged grass-fed beef. Two years ago, he and Gary Root formed an innovative partnership operating as StoneRoot Field & Sea. Unfortunately, seemingly out of the blue, Gary made a surprise announcement in an email this past Tuesday:
Doug Stonebreaker’s last day as an employee of StoneRoot Inc. is Sunday, May 30, 2021. There’s really no easy way to communicate this information eloquently, so I’m just doing it Doug-style: direct and head-on! Doug will always be a Co-Founder of StoneRoot Field & Sea and may show up at the Farmers Markets from time-to-time going forward. Doug is a well-respected pioneer and legend in our regional food system. He’s been innovating for decades. Despite many arrows landing squarely in his back all along the way, Doug has always forged ahead with alacrity to foster his mission of improving the regional food system and delighting appreciative eaters. He’s successfully weathered and navigated the plethora of gale-force storms that have come his way… too many to mention here! It’s a rare privilege to have had the opportunity to team up with Doug for these past several years. I consider myself lucky to continue to call him a close friend and co-founder, and I look forward to watching the next chapters of this legend’s career unfold.
In the above statement, Gary alludes to a “plethora of gale-force storms” without specifying the closure of the only slaughter-house serving small-scale ranches in the Bay Area followed soon after by a pandemic that seriously impacted just about everybody. Ironically, the ultimate blow, wasn’t a storm, but the lack thereof, as Gary explains:
As Spring 2021 evolved, it became clearly apparent that rainfall was not imminent. Grass-Fed/Grass-Finished cattle eat… you guessed it… grass for their entire lives. With 5,000 acres of brown hills in Fairfield, there wasn’t enough grass to support the livestock on the property. As a result, all of the beef that we were planning to produce in 2021 had to suddenly be removed from The Mason Ranch and sold at auction so that the mother cows had enough food to survive. This created a significant impact on our revenue forecasts and strategic plan for 2021.
We’re betting that Doug lands on his feet and, one way or the other, StoneRoot Field & Sea continues to thrive. By the way, Gary publishes a more or less weekly and extremely well-written news update that is beautifully illustrated with photos and chock full of recipe ideas. Send an email to: messages@squaremktg.com if you’d like to subscribe.
We also have to note that Doug’s resignation may be the first time in 2021 that the subject of the drought has been raised here in the News–but it’s going to become an ongoing discussion over the coming summer as farmers and ranchers up and down the state are seriously impacted.
Liane Zimny reported on the Adams Point district for three years beginning in 2013 with a series of “Grand Avenue–East of 580” blogs. Since her departure, the Splash Pad News hasn’t been able to fill the void and won’t be able to do so until/unless someone volunteers to do so. However, we received an email from Grand Avenue chiropractor and subscriber Robert Townsend, who noted his friend Sara at “Lakeview Cafe had her windows smashed in and is hanging on.”
Prompted by his request, we stopped in this past week to introduce ourselves and snap some photos. Currently, the menu features coffee, sandwiches, salads, and smoothies, but Robert also indicated that, at some point, Sara plans on serving Ethiopian specialties as well.
On the other side of the library, Oaktown Spice Shop isn’t yet back to normal, but they’re getting there. In person shopping is still limited in terms of numbers, but the cashier we spoke with noted that there’s very seldom a wait to get in. A few doors further up the block, Grand Lake Kitchen did have a small group of people waiting to be seated as, for the time being, they aren’t offering indoor seating. The outdoor tables and chairs do, however, accommodate about thirty patrons.
We’re concluding this month’s Odds and Ends with news from The Oaklandside.  The first article is about the Kitazawa Seed Company, and we chose to highlight it because it’s a great story but also because the co-owner (with his wife) is Jim Ryugo. As an Oakland Park Superintendent in the early 2000s, Jim helped facilitate planning for the new park and was always supportive of the city’s hard-working gardeners.
The second article, by C. J. Hirschfield, is about the incomparable John Sutter who died early in May. Here’s her introductory paragraph:
For the last 32 years, you pretty much knew where John Sutter would be every Thursday morning. Starting at 7 a.m., he gathered with friends at the Garden Center in Lakeside Park for a meeting of the convivial Lake Merritt Breakfast Club. Dedicated to ensuring the vibrancy and health of Oakland’s downtown aquatic wildlife refuge and the park that surrounds it, this was the perfect place for a man who devoted most of his life to advocating for environmental stewardship and public access to open space. Each breakfast club meeting began with a hearty chorus of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning,” which is a great way to start the day in Oakland.