California Heartland Episode 902 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

Alright, another heifer calf…future milker here. 

Meet a dairy man turning manure into mega watts. It’s cow power, keeping California green. 

That is the way I like to do wine tasting. 

Get out your sneakers and your wine glasses, there’s a new way to taste wine in downtown Napa. Join us on the wine walk. 

Save these because this is some of the best mulch going…

And mulch can be a farmer’s gold.  Learn how you can use the stuff to beef up your backyard.  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.

David Albers: Hey girl another newborn…

Jennifer Harrison: Welcome to a day on the dairy…

David Albers: Alright another heifer calf...future milker here

Jennifer Harrison: Vintage dairy in western Fresno County operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week….

David Albers: She knows how to suck already

Jennifer Harrison: David Albers - a third generation dairyman- runs this each cow produces 8 gallons - that’s 73 pounds-of milk-a day and a newborn enters the world every few hours…

David Albers: Breathing good, coughing a little bit, just a tiny little bit of fluid in it's lungs ….I always loved it--I was one of three sons and we used to rotate chores on the dairy and had a schedule and had to do different things but I always enjoyed the work part of it.

Jennifer Harrison: But milk is not the only thing being made here at Vintage Dairy; believe it or not they are helping make your power.

David Albers: The cows eat quite a bit…They eat over 100 lbs of feed a day and they produce two great revenue sources for us--one of course is milk...nature's perfect food-producing 73 lbs per day but the other is about 100 lbs of manure, but were able to capture that manure now and turn it into something positive.

Jennifer Harrison: Vintage Dairy is the first dairy in California to harness methane from manure and turn it into renewable natural gas for PG&E…

David Albers: When most people see a pile of manure they see simply that-a pile of manure…

David Albers: You know, it gets a lot of laughs but I think it’s because people think we are taking manure and turning it into gas which we are not

Jennifer Harrison: Besides being a lifelong dairyman, he’s an environmental lawyer…getting his law degree was a crucial step for the family farm.

David Albers: We only focus on our dairies, getting milk in the tank, and that's all we know how to do and that's what we are good at…But everything that effects the revenue side of our business and the public policy side of our business is made by people in suits...people who are highly educated, but you know they don’t know cows--so I thought, I need to be one of those suits in order to make sure that the dairy industry remains viable in California for my kids, so I thought to become one of those suits I needed to be a lawyer- so off to law school I went.

Jennifer Harrison: And after law school, came the cases that really got him thinking….

David Albers: I would represent dairy farmers going through a permit process and in almost every case from 99 to the present; somebody might oppose the dairy…

Jennifer Harrison: Oppose the dairy because cow manure produces methane and methane impacts the environment. That’s when David decided to turn a problem into a solution, BioEnergy Solutions, to be exact!

David Albers: But some of the legislation that's passed in the last few years, the utilities have to have 20% of their power from renewable sources by 2010…all of the sudden that got the utilities motivated. All these years that I've been knocking on their door trying to get them to take our power, now they were listening.

David Albers: We are standing here in the freestyle barn where the cows eat and when they eat they have a tendency to go the bathroom and so what happens is every day, several times a day we will flush water down this alley--it's sloped at 1.5 percent, it's all concrete and it will pick up all this manure and bring it to a central location. So right here at our feet are grates, so we'll pump 5,000 gallons a minute of recycled water or just manure water that comes out of the back end of the digester and it'll just move--it'll be very clean you can just walk down here with flip flops after that…

Jennifer Harrison: Really?

David Albers: And all of that, our goal is to collect all of the manure into the digester.

Tom Hintz: After the manure is drained from all the alley ways and the feed pens, it comes into this concrete pit and a couple of pumps over here that after the pit fills up, pump the manure over to the third stage.

Jennifer Harrison: After the pumping process the wet manure goes here to the solid separator where –you guessed it --separates solids from liquids…

Tom Hintz: So the manure that drains off the solid separator winds up in this lagoon. This lagoon is a big manure pond about 33 feet deep.  I'm standing on a 60 mil hdpe cover, this is strong enough to hold me, believe me I engineered this cover and what you are seeing in these parts that are puffing up is the methane gas that's bubbling up through 33 feet of manure and water as a result of the bacteria that are down in the bottom of this pond.

Jennifer Harrison: Technically called the anaerobic digester, the lagoon is the size of five football fields and as the manure breaks down gas is produced, sucked off and sent to the onsite upgrade equipment where methane gas is isolated…

David Albers: This is the final step in the process--we've purified our biogas to methane--we've sent it over here to the upgrade station, we send it over to the very last stage in the process where we sample the gas and my personal favorite part where we meter it as it goes in the pipeline so we know how much we get paid.

Jennifer Harrison: 50,000 homes a day get cow power…and BioEnergy Solutions is taking their act on the road--going to other dairies throughout the state offering the same service—it’s great PR for them and for the California dairy.

David Albers: Our goal is to keep our cows cool, dry and comfortable all the time...or in a common language keep them happy…

Jennifer Harrison: Right, California cows are happy cows…

David Albers: That’s right…

Jennifer Harrison: With two million dairy cows calling California home, cow power helps fuel the golden state, the dairies and the environment…


Chris Burrous: Boiled, barbecued, roasted, or raw - sweet corn in California is sweet anyway you serve it!  Last year California popped the top off the amount of harvested sweet corn, one million tons of the stuff.  A low fat food, corn is low in sodium, cholesterol free and a great source of vitamin C and B.  California sweet corn comes in three varieties, yellow, white or bi-color.  And whether you grow it or grab it, look for these signs of freshness- Evenly packed kernels that pop when you poke ‘em…and a nice golden silk.  Get creative with your corn, forget the cob, try pairing it with fresh California halibut.  Here’s Laura McIntosh, Bringing it Home.

Laura McIntosh: Well thanks everyone for joining me, I’d like to introduce you to Janine, hi Janine.

Janine Falvo: Hi Laura.

Laura McIntosh: Thanks for being on the show.

Janine Falvo: Thanks for having me. 

Laura McIntosh: Alright most of you might not know, but Janine is from the east coast, cooking now in the west coast, which we love, and I want to know if there’s a difference.

Janine Falvo: Absolutely, the produce is so much nicer out here, everything you can get out is the best, I think, in the country.

Laura McIntosh: What are you going to cook with us today?

Janine Falvo: We are going to have halibut, with a chanterelle white corn and heirloom tomato ragout.  We’re going to start by putting the flesh side down first.

Laura McIntosh: Okay. Remember that--flesh side down first, okay?

Janine Falvo: The other side is the skin side.

Laura McIntosh: Ok, but you've taken the skin off, have you not?

Janine Falvo: I have.

Laura McIntosh: You have.

Laura McIntosh: So just remember when you do that which side to go down.

Janine Falvo: As soon as this gets a little bit caramelized on the one side, we'll place it in the oven, and finish it off.

Laura McIntosh: You're not flipping it?

Janine Falvo: No, not until we take it out of the pan.

Laura McIntosh: Ok good, right in the oven.

Janine Falvo: It's in there, waiting for us on the set.

Janine Falvo: We're going to start with a little butter.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, good.

Laura McIntosh: And we're melting that down.  So this is going to be our base for our sautee.

Janine Falvo: Yeah.

Laura McIntosh: The oil's out.

Janine Falvo: Oil's done, we've used that already.

Janine Falvo: Right from there we're gonna take some of the shantrels, which are gorgeous.

Laura McIntosh: They're gorgeous!

Laura McIntosh: Look at that color!  That's beautiful!

Janine Falvo: Do you want to put it beautifully in the pan?

Laura McIntosh: I do. I think it's gorgeous.

Laura McIntosh: Good to go.

Laura McIntosh: Right from there we're gonna add some corn.  There's more to do than eat corn-on-the-cob.  Although, when it's this sweet, it's a must to do that, but incorporate it in your dishes and salsas.  There's a lot of different
Things you can do with it.

Janine Falvo: And then we're going to add a little bit of shallots.

Laura McIntosh: Shallots, now, any substitution?

Janine Falvo: Sweet white onion or yellow onion.

Janine Falvo: Then we're going to add a little bit of our heirloom tomatoes.  And we'll season that with a little salt and pepper.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Laura McIntosh: The halibut will stay in the oven for how long?

Janine Falvo: About six to eight minutes on a 375-degree oven.

Laura McIntosh: You saw how quick and easy it was on the stovetop. We got it to color a little bit, then we put it right in there.  It was real easy to do.

Janine Falvo: We're gonna add just a little bit of sherry.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Janine Falvo: This is going to bring out the sweetness in the corn and the mushrooms.

Laura McIntosh: And she's flipping it in that pan.  Us, at home, we can use a spoon or something...

Janine Falvo: Then I’m going to add some...herbs.  Today I’m using dill and tarragon, a little bit of chives.

Laura McIntosh: The dill is really strong, very, very fragrant.

Janine Falvo: It's still really delicate, and works great with a shantrel.

Laura McIntosh: It is really delicate.  But you can sure smell it.  It smells great.

Janine Falvo: Then one of my last favorite ingredients...white truffle oil.

Janine Falvo: Smell that.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, yeah.  Oh, you guys, it has an amazing smell, and the taste is phenomenal.  If you've never used it, this is a great recipe that calls for it.  It is rather pricey...but you can buy it in small containers.  So just get a little and try it out and see if you like it.  We're going to let that sautee.

Janine Falvo: Just a little bit, yeah.  We don't want to overcook it or anything.  We'll check on our fish.

Laura McIntosh: How's it looking?

Janine Falvo: It's looking really nice.

Laura McIntosh: Look at that--perfect!

Laura McIntosh: Oh, look at that halibut.

Laura McIntosh: Are you happy?

Janine Falvo: I am.

Laura McIntosh: This looks absolutely beautiful, moist.

Janine Falvo: It is.

Janine Falvo: It's extremely moist.  The butter really helps it.

Laura McIntosh: Of course, and the shantrels, the corn--it's here, it's fresh.  And this one is easy for you to do at home.  Remember they are on our website.  This looks fantastic!

Janine Falvo: Try it.

Laura McIntosh: Can I eat it?

Janine Falvo: Please.

Laura McIntosh: Alright!

G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski: A lot of times here in California, people ask me, what is that buttery quality I get in some chardonnays?  And that really comes from something called malolactic fermentation.  Malic acid is a type of acid that you get in a green apple, you it’s just so, you know it gives you shivers up your spine.  Lactic acid is the kind of acid that you’d get in a glass of milk.  Ok, so a malolactic fermentation coverts the harsher malic acid to the softer lactic acid, so a chardonnay that has gone through a malolactic fermentation will have a slight buttery quality to it- and that’s where it came from!

Annie Hayes: Welcome to Annie’s Annuals!

Annie Hayes: I am head clown of the nursery!

Annie Hayes: There's no business like nursery business there's no business I know… (Singing)

Chris Burrous: For Annie Hayes—a self proclaimed flower floozy-business means dirt…

Annie Hayes: Touching the dirt is a very magical thing.  I can be in the office all day and so stressed out and I can come out here and in 5 minutes I'm completely at peace-just by touching the dirt or touching the flowers

Customer: Hi are you Annie? Haha

Chris Burrous: Annie is the Annie of Annie’s Annuals and Perennials—a nursery that grows thousands of unique and old world plants and flowers—things your great grandma may have had in her garden but have been lost over time.  Tucked behind railroad tracks-past barb wire fences- Annie’s is a slice of country in industrial Richmond—and flower fans flock here-today a bus load of people from the central valley made a two hour trek just to grab some goods. Things like this—it’s a primrose that dates back to the 1500’s in England…

Customer: You don't find that in a nursery in our area. You don't find that anywhere unless you are in specialty type of stores.

Annie Hayes: This is an is from the Canary Islands--it's really rare-we are the only people in the United States to grow it

Chris Burrous: Annie’s Annuals is one of only a handful of nurseries in the country that grows the old fashioned way… from seed...

Annie Hayes: We tried to get this one plant from seed but every time we go the seed it was the wrong plant.  I would see it in books and I'd go insane—Like, I have to have this plant.

Annie Hayes: These are the magical seeds. This is where it all starts.


Chris Burrous: It actually all started about fifteen years ago when Annie—miserable in her office job started working at a nursery-and growing things at home..

Annie Hayes: so I collected some seeds in an old six pack with some dirt and I pushed them in an old broken down shed and every day I watered them and about a week later much to my dismay--my cat Jupiter walked all across the seed trays and I was disappointed and I left it there and I kept watering them. And about a week later comes the seeds and the thing is they only came up where the kitty cat had walked and left footprints.

Chris Burrous: That secret of tamping down the soil-- gave birth to Annie’s backyard business.  These days the operation is much more grand—catalog and website orders are sent all over the world—and while Annie likes to clown around—she’s serious about her plants.

Annie Hayes: This is one of my favorite plants this is delphinium elatom…this is the mother of all delphiums

Annie Hayes: Look how pretty that is, those two- the apricot poppies next to this red grass, mmm.

Customers: Hello, California Heartland!

Chris Burrous: And as today’s visitors head off with a handful of green goodies--it seems they also come away from Annie’s with a love of nurturing nature…

Customers: Its's like birth--only it's a plant and you don’t have to send it to college. Hehe

Customers: Annie's Annuals to me is a sea of beautiful plants that are so special and hard to find, just unique and beautiful in every way possible.

Annie Hayes: Your welcome!

Chris Burrous: Pack your bags and grab your boots, it’s time to hit the road, with the Ag Traveler!

Melanie Kim: Looks like I’m power walking, but what I’m really doing is wine tasting.

Melanie Kim: That’s right! Tasting vino on the Napa Wine Walk.  It’s a new tasting tour that’s about 15 blocks, and you can start and finish anywhere on the route. 

Melanie Kim: Just a few wineries featured along the walk; Stone hedge, Backroom wines and Mason Cellars. 

Meagan Mason: It’s wonderful walking across the bridge and from the bnb’s and hotels in the downtown area you can just walk out the front door and walk and taste and dine.

Melanie Kim: With 17 tasting rooms in downtown Napa…Featuring wines from 150 wineries… Consider saving time, money and gas by hiking itAnd for more bang for your wine buck, stop into a tasting collective like this one. 

Doug White: We have 18 wineries with us that we build brands for. And 20 labels they're all premium small produced hand crafted wineries from Napa that don't have their own tasting rooms so they come to us.

Melanie Kim: So basically you're bringing the wine tasting rooms to the people?

Melanie Kim: Well, here’s to the good life in Napa.

Melanie Kim: Back out on the walking wine trail, you are only steps away from the next sip of wine, or in this case, bite of wine at Annette’s Chocolates.

Anette Madsen: We’ve got a port truffle here on the side a winter cabernet a nice dark chocolate intended to go very nicely with wine chardonnay for those that like a light touch. And a white chocolate center with chardonnay wine.  And then this is our very mellow milk chocolate center cabernet wine and a lot of the wine flavor comes through. They’re luscious.

Melanie Kim: And you know... chocolate does go together so well with wine. So you've just taken a step out for us.

Anette Madsen: Absolutely!

Melanie Kim: That is the way I like to do wine tasting!

Melanie Kim: Just across from Annette’s chocolates inside the Oxbow Public Market…is the world’s smallest winery at Michael Mondavi’s Folio Enoteca.

Michelle Smedley: 80 Square Feet.

Melanie Kim: 80 Square Feet?!

Michelle Smedley: 4 custom built fermentation tanks, red wine Cabernet in here, Sauvignon Blanc being barrel fermented- would you like me to draw some cab?
Practically right off the vine and crushed…

Michelle Smedley: This is what it's all about, people want to come and touch the barrels, stroke them get the wine right out the...

Melanie Kim: Really?! Ok show me... How do you stroke the barrel?!

Michelle Smedley: Well (laughing)

Melanie Kim: Kind of like rubbing somebody's tummy for good luck really?
It’s like blessing it kind of…

Michelle Smedley: Exactly (laughs) and that’s what it’s all about.

Melanie Kim: And that's what I call real hands on experience exactly right?

Melanie Kim: Next--shuffle over to the Oxbow cheese merchant if wine and cheese is more your taste...

Lassa Skinner: They should enhance each other but not overpower each other, like a good marriage.

Lassa Skinner: This is from goats leap the daphne, it's goat's milk, soft, ripened, luscious…

Melanie Kim: You hit it with luscious

Lassa Skinner: Well I don’t’ want to put words in your mouth.

Melanie Kim: Ha Ha just cheese, now do I follow it up

Lassa Skinner: Now, take a sip of your wine, keep it in there. See what happens.  Does it work?

Melanie Kim: It does.

Melanie Kim: This walking, wining and dining seems to be a winning combination. 

Wine Taster/ Customer: You know you park once, and you’re here for a couple hours, and you’re relaxed.  I like it.

Wine Taster/ Customer: We like the idea that it combines food with the wine culture, all in one central location.

Melanie Kim: What a great day to spend with friends, huh?

Wine Taster/ Customer: Mmm hmm and it’s just beginning.

Melanie Kim: Continuing our walking wine tour and just down the block, stroll on through the edible garden at Copia, American center for wine, food and the arts.  And you might just cross paths with one of Copia’s culinary instructors.

Sandy Dominguez: I have some fresh dill, from our garden here.  I’m going to add that in, it’s kind of that, “Oh yeah” ingredient.

Melanie Kim: In one afternoon--we checked out Sandy Dominguez’ cooking demonstration, a wine blending class and Copia’s high tech version of wine tasting.

Melanie Kim: You know…all this walking gave me real time to think—with all the money you save on gas, why not spend the night at the Napa River Inn and continue your walk in the morning after a fabulous breakfast and a few tips from their knowledgeable staff.

Napa River Inn Staff Member: Copia is right next door to the Oxbow Public Market.

Melanie Kim: Bye, thanks for your help!

Napa River Inn Staff Member: Bye bye.

Melanie Kim: Walking and wine, why not try it next time you head to Napa. I’ll drink to that! Mmm

Chris Burrous: Try these tips for doing it Home Grown.

Fred Hoffman: You know farmers and backyard gardeners have something in common, they both want to save money, they both want to save time, no how can we backyard growers do this and yet grow the healthiest plants possible?  With this stuff right here, it’s called mulch!  Let’s go spread some around.

Fred Hoffman: There are a lot of great reasons to use mulch.  First of all, when you add mulch beneath a plant, you’re going to be conserving soil moisture, which means your water bill is going to be less.  Also when you add mulch beneath a plant it’s going to keep the soil warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, which means you’re going to have a healthier plant.  And if you’re tired of getting down on your hands and knees and pulling out weeds, then you definitely want to add mulch because it suppresses weeds so you’re not spending so much time on your hands and knees.  And finally my favorite reason for adding mulch, it’s a natural fertilizer- that means you’re going to save a lot of money.

Fred Hoffman: There are a lot of sources for mulch, some them free, some of them you have to pay for.  I’ve brought some to show you, and we’re gonna start with the free stuff.  Your own lawn, that’s right after you cut your lawn if you don’t have a mulching mower, if you spread this out and let it dry, and then apply it to you yard as a mulch, about 2 inches thick, you have a great source for mulch.

Fred Hoffman: If you have a lot of pine needles, this makes great acidic mulch beneath your gardenias, rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.  Again, you’d want to make it about 2 to 3 inches deep throughout the entire understory of the plant. 

Fred Hoffman: These are chipped tree parts, if you have a chipper or a shredder and you need to take down a tree, save these, because this is some of the best mulch going. 

Fred Hoffman: Spoiled hay makes great mulch; you can spread that around your vegetable garden as well.  Now there is some mulch that you can buy, that well, frankly looks a lot better.
Small bark looks good beneath rose bushes, now the only problem with small bark is that it kind of blows away in a heavy wind or if you use some sort of blower to blow leaves away.  And, that may not be the best.  What you may want instead, is bigger bark, and bigger bark placed around your rose bushes and ornamental plants looks really great and it lasts a long time.

Fred Hoffman: There’s another mulch that is available, it’s called shredded bark or gorilla hair.  And, it’s probably among the nicer looking of the mulches, but the problem with this is that it’s highly flammable.  So, if you’re a smoker you may want to avoid this or quit smoking in the garden.

Fred Hoffman: Finally there’s compost which makes a great mulch.  This is just organic compost that frankly you can make from your own kitchen scraps or you can buy it in bulk. 

Fred Hoffman: Rocks look great in a yard as a mulch and it will suppress weeds, but the downside to rocks is in the summertime, these rocks absorb a lot of heat, and that cooks the roots of your plants. 

Fred Hoffman: Now there’s another couple sources of mulch that you may want to try in your vegetable garden, c’mon let me show you.

Fred Hoffman: Another couple items that you can use as mulch, this is called weed cloth. It is not plastic, this is actually made of a polymer that is permeable to air and water and it has two sides, a smooth side and a bumpy side.  You want to put the smooth side on the top so that the air and water will flow through and this does a great job of suppressing weeds.  Some down sides to this, you’re going to have to put something on top of it to hold it in place and it doesn’t really feed the soil, because the mulch that may be on top holding it in place can’t get through, but still it’ll do a good job of suppressing weeds.

Fred Hoffman: Something the old timers used to use, and you can use it in your vegetable garden, are sections of newspaper.  Newspapers last about a season, put them on about a section at a time, and it will suppress weeds.  You have to put something on top, what’s great about these is that at the end of the season they will have all disappeared, so there’s no clean up, but again you’ll have to put something on top of it to hold it in place.  And there are a couple of good ideas for some inexpensive mulch.

Fred Hoffman: Add some mulch, hey that’s what I have to do right now, I’ll see ya.      

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

To order a copy of this show, visit us online or call 1-888-814-3923 the cost is $14.95 plus shipping

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