California Heartland Episode 901 Transcript

California Heartland is made possible by the James G. Boswell Foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers.  Bank of America, bank of opportunity. Funding provided in part by, The California Farm Bureau Federation, proud publishers of “California Country” magazine.  More information is available at

Coming up…

Have you ever heard of a quagga mussel?  No, what is that?  It’s tiny, but potentially devastating to California’s water supply and agriculture.  We visit Clear Lake where they’re fighting off an invasion of quagga. 

Plus…I didn’t know a thing about olives, a thing.  The story behind a former pro ball player scoring home runs by producing his very own olive oil. 

And…An easy to grow California native are these…Tips on keeping your water bill down by planting drought tolerant plants, next on California Heartland.

Chris Burrous: From your backyard, to the back country, in a field, or on your family table, it’s all about what keeps California moving and growing, this is California Heartland.

Pam Francis: They are the single largest worst freshwater bio fouling organism in North America.

Pam Francis: From the farming perspective it's going to destroy our ability to irrigate our crops and have our livelihood.

Melanie Kim: This is the quagga mussel, and it’s hard to believe that something so small, could be considered such a big threat to one of California’s most valuable resources- our water.

Melanie Kim: Have you ever heard of a quagga mussel before?  A quacca mussel? A quagga mussel!  No, what’s that? Never heard of a quagga mussel…

Melanie Kim: Have you ever heard of a quagga mussel?  No, what is that? 

Pam Francis: I don't think most people are aware of it, because it's been such an east coast issue for 20 years and it's just recently hit the west coast.

Melanie Kim: What’s become a billion dollar problem in other parts of the country, has now mussled its way into San Diego and Riverside counties, and there’s concern for other California fresh water supplies, including the largest, Clear Lake.

Pam Francis: These are invasive species that were accidentally brought over from the Ukraine in ballast water and they went into the Great Lakes and quickly distributed down the Mississippi river tributary system.

Melanie Kim: The mussels attach themselves to pretty much anything in the water and form massive colonies.  If the mussel can do this to a shopping cart dredged up from the bottom of Lake Michigan, imagine what they can do in an entire water system. 

Pam Francis: This mollusk has the potential to clog up intakes where water is treated for drinking water consumption. It can also plug up irrigation pipes that the agricultural industry needs to irrigate their crops.  It can clog up hydroelectric generation and that’s going to have impacts up stream, it would be quite devastating.  Our economy would be very hard hit because our economy here is based on tourism and agriculture.

Melanie Kim: The mussel problem can literally trickle down.  Since Clear Lake provides neighboring Yolo County’s irrigation water, and its output travels all the way down the San Joaquin Valley and through the Delta, the Quagga could potentially end up in sprinklers at farms like Daniel Wilson’s some 150 miles away.    

Daniel Wilson: As you can see, when you take these apart, they’re full of small moving parts.  And, if you look in the inside, these nozzles are really small and if they all got plugged up at once, it would be a real problem for us.  We wouldn’t be able to irrigate we would be able to do anything. 

Melanie Kim: To irrigate his pear, asparagus, corn and wheat crops he pulls water from the delta…

Daniel Wilson: From the river through filters and that equipment needs constant maintenance.

Melanie Kim: And if colonies of mussels clog up Wilson’s pipes like this…

Daniel Wilson: I have to imagine it would be incredibly expensive to replace all of this infrastructure here.
Melanie Kim: And that in turn cold translate to higher prices in the produce aisles.
Pam Francis: The consumer is going to pay more for food they're going to pay more for power and water.
Melanie Kim: What helps spread these tiny invasive creatures throughout the nation’s lakes and waterways?  You got it, they hitchhike on boats, kayaks, inter tubes, even buckets of fishing bait. 
Pam Francis: People are what spread these species, people need to change their behavior they need to only use clean equipment when they go from lake to lake.
Melanie Kim: So how do we prevent these aquatic invaders from damaging water supplies and threatening California farms?
Melanie Kim: You’ve probably heard of bomb sniffing dogs and drug sniffing dogs, these canines are mussel sniffing dogs.  Enlisting by the California Department of Fish and Game to snuff or sniff the mussel out.
Lynette Shimek: We've got 7 dogs right now that are certified to detect quagga and zebra mussels, that's not even a drop in the bucket. We also have 5 dogs in the academy right now. So it’s going to bring our number up to 12.
Lynette Shimek: To run around a boat and just all of a sudden you see the head turn and boom, they go right into where it is.
Bystander: I saw something about it on the news last night.
Lynette Shimek: Yeah! That was Nigel.  Yeah, Nigel the black dog.
Bystander: This definitely helps out a lot, huh?
Lynette Shimek: It does, yeah, when you’re talking 20 minutes that it takes to, you know for a person to, minimum, to search a boat, and it takes a dog a couple minutes. So, it’s so helpful.
Bystander: That’s neat!
Melanie Kim: They’re like great PR people for you guys.
Lynette Shimek: They’re excellent PR, and you know it all goes back to education.  You know, there’s nothing we can do about the mussels once they’re here in the lake or in any lake.
Melanie Kim: With only about a dozen of these specially trained dogs and no known treatment to manage the mussels effectively, the only true way to deal with the problem is making sure it never becomes one. 
Alexia Retallack: Anything that can contain water that has been in infested water can be a source for transporting that to another location.  So when we say clean, drain and dry- it’s clean, drain and dry all water craft. 
Melanie Kim: Here at Clear Lake, inspections of all water craft are already in effect. 
Lynette Shimek: Maybe someone will find a cure something that we could do besides drain the lake or poison it which is not an option.
Alexia Retallack: Shutting down a lake could be devastating to local economy, to local businesses.
Melanie Kim: But temporary closures could buy local water managers some time to come up with a plan to combat an oncoming quagga mussel invasion. 
Pam Francis: Water’s a very important issue in the state of California and this has the potential to impact everybody, so ultimately we’re all going to pay the price if we don’t prevent the spread of this mussel in this state. 
George Cecchetti: So, okay let’s hustle out there, let’s take infield and outfield, everyone out to your positions, you know the routine, let’s go. 
Chris Burrous: Like many fathers, George Cecchetti enjoys coaching his son’s baseball team.  But for George, baseball isn’t just a hobby, it’s his former profession. 
George Cecchetti: I played in the Indians organization for just short of 10 years. 
Chris Burrous: George played several years in triple A, 2 years in the majors as an outfielder first baseman and although he didn’t fulfill his dream of becoming a hall-of-famer, he had a great time while it lasted. 
George Cecchetti: As a ball player I had nothing left to give, when I got done playing I was injured, you know, I was beat up, I was on bad legs and, had nothing else left to give. 
Chris Burrous: But he does have something to give as a coach.  Besides sharing his experience and love for the game, he’s also able to spend quality time with his son, George Jr. And time is at a premium in this busy household, that’s because a few years ago, George and his fiancé Karen started their own company, by chance.
Karen Chandler: When we bought this property, I was actually walking down the driveway and I looked up above and said, okay lord, how can this place help pay for itself because it’s a pretty big place and I looked down and all the olives were hitting the ground and I thought, gosh you know what? Ok I get it, I came back in the house and go, you know George we’re going to make olive oil next year.  And George said, are you nuts?! Ha Ha Ha Ha.
Chris Burrous: These massive hundred year old olive trees lining the driveway were Karen’s inspiration. 
George Cecchetti: I didn’t know a thing about olives, not a thing.
Chris Burrous: But that didn’t stop them, they began researching olive oil and found a nearby Modesto family who’s been farming olives for more than 70 years.
George Cecchetti: And so I jumped in their hip pocket and said teach me everything you know. 
Chris Burrous: Their first harvest was small, but the Cecchetti extra virgin olive oil that resulted from it, was a huge hit. 
George Cecchetti: It just evolved, I think Karen went out there and pushed it and we got such a positive response from the people.
Chris Burrous: George began planting seedling trees on his property, but because they take 3 years to produce, he had to look elsewhere for more olives. 
George Cecchetti: We actually went out there and started finding people who had trees, so we farmed those and got them into a contract with us, just a handshake contract we don’t have anything in writing we just do business in good faith which I sure enjoy. 
Chris Burrous: Although, they have hundreds of trees now, Karen, George and George Jr. do all of the work. 
George Cecchetti: Yeah, it’s all done by hand.  We pick so late because I’m going for a certain style, a certain flavor.
Karen Chandler: We don’t pick early, you know, before the olives are ripe, we pick when they are ripe.  We wait until they’re pitch black on the outside and real dark purple on the inside. 
Chris Burrous: Once the olives are picked, they’re then rushed to a nearby processing plant.
George Cecchetti: We’ve made it as quickly as 96 minutes from the time from picking to getting it pressed.  Within 24 hours is our ultimate goal. 
Chris Burrous: The oil is stored until it’s time for the bottles to be labeled and deliveries to be made.  Several stores throughout Sacramento and the Bay Area carry Cecchetti Olive Oil, but local businesses have been especially receptive.
George Cecchetti: I think there are probably 15 or 18 businesses here in Lodi that carries our product, and they’re just great folks, they’re very supportive of us.
Chris Burrous: Like this winery, where Karen is unveiling Cecchetti’s newest product, Splash of Orange Olive Oil. 
Karen Chandler: Here you go.
Karen Chandler: Well it’s just fun, it promotes the product for whoever is carrying our product. 
Chris Burrous: So while Karen is selling the oil, George is tending the trees.
George Cecchetti: You know I enjoy this everyday.
Chris Burrous: From fielder to farmer.
George Cecchetti: We are busy, you know it’s just a different kind of busy; I’m kind of walking to the beat of my own drum which I enjoy.
Chris Burrous: Nothing compares to the fresh and vibrant taste of fish pulled right out of the water.  It’s why we all stand in line at the fish counter waiting for today’s best catch!
Caught right from the ocean straight to your table, California is in the top five seafood producing states in the nation.
From Dungeness crab, king salmon, squid, tuna, lobster, shrimp, sole and halibut, California seafood is making some major waves in the kitchen- so why not create your own splash- by tossing it in the pot.  Here’s lifestyle expert, Laura McIntosh- Bringing it Home.

Laura McIntosh: Well, thanks for joining us up here on the kitchen set.  We're gonna get started.  We're gonna cook it up with Cioppino, which is...An Italian stew, but who made it famous?  Well, San Francisco, of course.  And speaking of famous and San Francisco, the Tadich Grill.  And I’m here with the Executive Chef from the Tadich Grill, Rajko Marin. Hi Rajko.

Rajko Marin: Hello, Laura. 

Laura McIntosh: How are you?

Rajko Marin: I'm doing fine.  Thank you for having me.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, we're so happy to have you, and you're gonna share your secret recipe.  This cioppino recipe is so good! 

Laura McIntosh: So let's see how we start.

Rajko Marin: Well, we start, eh, with a sauté pan. 

Laura McIntosh: Okay. 

Rajko Marin: We gonna coat it with a little olive oil.

Laura McIntosh: All right

Rajko Marin: And we gonna use a little bit of butter.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Laura McIntosh: They serve, on average, at Tadich Grill in San Francisco, 700 to 800 people a day.

Rajko Marin: Yes. We gonna start with a little bit of white onion. 

Laura McIntosh: Okay.  Smoke follows beauty.

Rajko Marin: Yeah.  Little bit of garlic.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.  Oh, that garlic smell, oh!  It's fantastic!

Rajko Marin: For a little bit...Then I add a little bit of this, Eh...chili sauce.

Laura McIntosh: Chili sauce.  Now, this is kind of your secret sauce.

Rajko Marin: That's the secret sauce.  That's very secret and it caramelize the onion very quick.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, it sure does.

Rajko Marin: Brings a lot of flavor to the dish.  Then I go with a little celery. 

Laura McIntosh: Okay, so we just get this really nice.

Rajko Marin: And--just caramelize a little bit, the celery and onion, and then I add a little bit of green onion.  Just a little bit.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.


Rajko Marin: I do paprika.  Then I go with the--fresh tomato…fresh tomato. Then I go with this, I got those, um...

Laura McIntosh: Ooh, yeah.  The stewed tomatoes.

Rajko Marin: Stewed tomatoes.  This is the roma tomato.

Laura McIntosh: Great.

Rajko Marin: We have a fish stock going on right next to us, too.  And it was really easy to put together, and, um—

Rajko Marin: Let me...

Laura McIntosh: He'll use this in his sauce as well.

Rajko Marin: So this is the basic, eh, what I need for the cioppino sauce.

Laura McIntosh: Okay, good.

Rajko Marin: Then I go with those, eh, spices. I got a little bit of basil...

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Rajko Marin: A little bit of pepper...I got pinch of, eh...

Laura McIntosh: Hey! You like it spicy!

Rajko Marin: A lot of spices.

Laura McIntosh: Good!

Rajko Marin: A little chili flakes.

Laura McIntosh: Okay, great.  Chili flakes.

Rajko Marin: So I got more of those, eh, this is the—

Laura McIntosh: Oh, the basil. 

Rajko Marin: This is basil and little bit thyme.  Little bit thyme. 

Laura McIntosh: Great.

Rajko Marin: I go with two of those, eh—

Laura McIntosh: The bay leaves.

Laura McIntosh: Bay leaves.  Okay, remember when you use bay leaves, take 'em out when it's finished, right?  Now, this is the sauce, the first part of the recipe. The second part is cooking the fish.

Rajko Marin: Cooking the fish, yeah.

Laura McIntosh: So that's done?

Rajko Marin: This is pretty much done, so if you reduce this for
Another, maybe, half an hour--

Laura McIntosh: Half an hour?

Rajko Marin: Yeah, half hour.  It's gonna be--

Laura McIntosh: It's gonna look like this?

Rajko Marin: Yeah, it's gonna be perfect sauce.

Laura McIntosh: Okay, perfect. 

Rajko Marin: I'm gonna go with the fish.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, good.  This is absolutely gorgeous fish. And we're gonna pick out what we want.

Rajko Marin: Yeah, I got a few of those mussels, I go with the mussels.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Rajko Marin: A little bit of clams.  This is, eh, special.  I gotta cut a little bit.  Looks weird but tastes good.

Laura McIntosh: Hey, tastes great.

Rajko Marin: This is--

Laura McIntosh: Squid?

Rajko Marin: We use a lot in international cuisine.  It's the octopus.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Rajko Marin: I give you good taste.  I got a little bit of whitefish.  I am using today monkfish.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, okay.

Rajko Marin: I got a little bit of crab.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, you have to.

Rajko Marin: Yeah, I got a little bit of crab and, eh, I can take a little bit of sea bass, but it's not absolute.

Laura McIntosh: A little sea bass is good. 

Rajko Marin: Just a little.  Two pieces of sea bass.  Maybe two jumbo prawn.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, yeah!  Do we get any of the—Scallops?

Rajko Marin: Scallops.  This is pretty much what you need for the cioppino.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Rajko Marin: So what I do, I just put little bit olive oil.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Rajko Marin: And I need a little bit of, eh, just a little bit of butter.  Then I use...

Laura McIntosh: And this is a great pan.

Rajko Marin: This is--it's not made by me, but close, close, close.


Rajko Marin: I just put a little bit prawn...Yeah, and just a little bit of garlic.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.  And it smells, by the way, terrific.

Rajko Marin: A little bit white wine...So, the cioppino sauce is pretty much done.

Laura McIntosh: Yes.

Rajko Marin: You just...

Laura McIntosh: Pour it--oh!

Rajko Marin: Pour this.

Laura McIntosh: This is the dish.  Should we set it up here?  There you go, very simple and very easy, 30 minutes or less.  You can do it at home, you know the secret ingredients.  Now, Rajko showed you how to do it just like they do it at Tadich Grill.  Oh, look at that!  Oh, yeah!  Oh...Can I--can I--can I taste it?  Oh, I gotta try it.  This is unbelievable.  Have I died and gone to heaven? Oh it’s fantastic I love it! 

Hi my name is Yamilex.
Hi my name is Greg.

Come see our California heartland.

Every morning me and my brother head out to the barn and we feed them alfalfa.
They are cute when they eat.

You get a bucket full of corn and pound it up and down and where ever you go they will follow you.

Animals need a lot of attention. And if they are not happy or if they are sad we go tell our parents. To make sure they are not sick. Make sure they are strong and healthy.

It is just a fun experience to teach us responsibility.

This is our California Heartland. And thanks for coming.

Chris Burrous: The roots of California’s farming family grow deep; this is the heritage of our heartland. 

Jessica Burns: The love and care that they put into this land, is just unbelievable.  They really saw a future and they knew that this is where they belonged, and that they needed to be here. 

Chris Burrous: Like many central valley farms... Jessie's Grove Winery in Lodi is a family tradition...passed down through history.  But in this case...much of that history, is actually herstory.  From generation...

Wanda Woock Bechthold: This museum is all created from artifacts from this ranch.

Chris Burrous: To generation…

Jessica Burns: I run the lab, so that means I check for acidity in the wine samples.

Chris Burrous: Dating back nearly a century... These determined women, strengthened the farm...soft grapes held together by tough vines.

Greg Burns: The women define what our family is about. If it wasn't for my great grandmother Jessie, this ranch wouldn't be here anymore.  Jessie was the first generation born on this ranch back in the 1870's.

Chris Burrous: Jesse’s Grove is named after Jesse Spenker, daughter of German immigrant, Joseph Spenkar…but it appears it was her mother who gave the family the rough and tough genes…setting the standard for working hard and loving the land.

Wanda Woock Bechthold: She was an indentured servant in Germany, and Jesse was very much like her, a strong woman right from the beginning. 

Chris Burrous: Jesse is credited with saving this farm... At a time when few believed the fairer sex had the brains for business.  It was the eve of the great depression... And following Joseph’s death, this sprawling plot of fertile grape, wheat, and watermelon fields, fell to his son Otto—who really didn’t care for the business-- but--after all, who ever heard of leaving a farm to a girl?

Wanda Woock Bechthold: He didn’t like it, he like writing, doing all the creative things and he invested in the stock market.  Well 1929 came along, everybody knows what happened then- and the ranch was in jeopardy.  So his sister who dearly loved this place, stepped right in and said, you’ve done enough damage, you’re out, I’m taking over!

Chris Burrous: A woman in a mans field, literally—Jessie understood the earth. Not only the green fields lined with grape vines…

Wanda Woock Bechthold: And look up at the tree…

Chris Burrous: But also the spot her father Joseph loved so much... His 32-acre oak grove... Now known as Jessie’s grove…

Wanda Woock Bechthold: Isn’t that beautiful?

Chris Burrous: Named for her, because she held on to this prized property, even when money got tight.

Chris Burrous: Why not sell the oak grove? That would have been worth a lot of money.

Wanda Woock Bechthold: That's what a lot of people said! You’re being ridiculous! You’re being a ridiculous woman! Just sell the oak grove and you can keep the rest of the ranch. But she said my father saved the oak grove for future generations and so will I.

Chris Burrous: Today those branches still open to embrace the newest generation of visitors to the farm... Tourists and wine-lovers, hoping to taste a bit of central valley history.

Man: Oh, no no I’m the uncle…

Wanda Woock Bechthold: Oh you’re the uncle, hahaha

Chris Burrous: It’s a history that Jessie’s granddaughter, Wanda Bechtel is preserving too, in her own way by documenting her families story and struggles in a book and displaying it at this rustic museum give visitors a close look at what farming was really like at the turn of the century. 

Wanda Woock Bechthold: It’s so important because so many people have put their whole life into it.

Greg Burns: The next generation, my daughter Jessie, umm Jessica is now 21 so her mom will now allow her to drink with me so she can learn to appreciate wines.

Jessica Burns: There was a time that I thought I wasn’t going to be a vineyard owner and wine maker, but that was because I was very girly and so the thought of dirt and vineyards was not exactly, you know, a prospect. 

Greg Burns: She’s got a good business head on her shoulders…

Wanda Woock Bechthold: She will be the sixth generation working out here…

Chris Burrous: Another generation... Walking down the same road as her forefathers... Or-- fore-mothers... To ensure this farm, keeps going strong.  Another branch on the tree in Jessie’s grove.

Chris Burrous: Everyone’s a farmer when it comes to their own backyard, try these tips for doing it Home Grown.

Fred Hoffman: You know water shortages are happening all around the country, in Georgia recently they banned outdoor watering in some communities because the local lakes had run dry.  The same thing could happen here in California and the question is, are you and your garden ready for that?

Fred Hoffman: Which plants are susceptible to a long period of drought?  Well water thirsty trees for one, plus thirsty shrubs, ground covers and everybody’s favorite- lawns!

Fred Hoffman: One answer is to convert all or part of your yard to plants that don’t need much water, basically just what falls from the sky, and that’s why I’ve brought you to the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center in Fair Oaks, California.  They have a great collection of California native plants and drought tolerant plants, let’s take a look.

Fred Hoffman: Ok, let’s say you’re gonna tear out your lawn; you want to put in some drought tolerant plants, what are some good choices?  You need some low growing plants, and this is one of my favorite low growing plants, this is called Teucrium or Germander, it’s from the Mediterranean region and forms a mound not very high so it can fill in and look like a lawn.  But maybe you want something maybe a little more grassier, well how about this.  This is called Australian Blue Grass.  Australian Blue Grass gets about 2 feet tall, and maintains its color and form probably 10 to 11 months in the year. 

Fred Hoffman: But you know my favorite lawn substitute if you’re looking for a drought tolerant plant.  Is this right here, this is called Santa Barbara Daisy also known as Erigeron and it stays in bloom 11 months of the year, and it spreads.

Fred Hoffman: But maybe you don’t have a green thumb, maybe you’re looking for some easy plants, heh have I got some easy plants for you, come on!

Fred Hoffman: An easy to grow California native, are these, California poppies.  They blossom in the spring time, they do die back, but you know what, they pop up again the following year.  They’re easy!

Fred Hoffman: Lavatera, or Tree Mallow it grows about 8 feet tall and blooms about 8 months of the year, and it’s really a nice center piece for any yard.  But maybe you’re looking for something that requires absolutely no water once it’s established.  Well you can’t beat this, Ceanothus.  Ceanothus range in size from ground covers to 10-12 foot tall shrubs and the beautiful blue purple blossoms fill the plant in the spring time.  Give these plants plenty of room to grow, they’re gonna get big, now they may look a little lonesome down here, this plant in particular is gonna spread out 5 or 6 feet, so you don’t want to stare at a plant all by its lonesome like that, well uh open a seed packet of annuals, like California natives and start spreading them around.

Fred Hoffman: Don’t fool yourself, there will be a drought in California, and now’s the time to start yanking out your thirsty lawns, trees and shrubs and start replacing them with California natives and drought tolerant plants and my only problem is, I don’t know which ones to choose.

Chris Burrous: That’s California Heartland, for more information on any of these stories go to I’m Chris Burrous see you next time.

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California Heartland is made possible by The James G. Boswell Foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers.  Bank of America, bank of opportunity. Funding provided in part by, The California Farm Bureau Federation, proud publishers of “California Country” magazine.  More information is available at