A Grand View of Sustainable Farming

By Jeff Cianci / Photography By Jeff Cianci | August 19, 2016
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While Grandview Farms is just a few short miles from downtown San Jose, it feels worlds away. As you make the relaxing drive along Mount Hamilton Road, rolling green hills dip into lush, tree-lined valleys. This backdrop sets the stage for the property, which is perched atop a ridge with panoramic views of the South San Francisco Bay Area.

Grandview Farms is Maurice Carrubba’s vision for sharing organic, sustainable farming with the local community through his neighboring Grandview Restaurant. Carrubba and his brother Joe have been involved with other area restaurants through the years, such a Caffe Riace in Palo Alto and several cafés on Stanford University’s campus.

In 2014, Carrubba purchased the Grandview Restaurant from long-time owner Lucie Ciciarelli, who started working there as a waitress in 1971. As the restaurant closed briefly for renovation, the owner of the 50-acre property around the bend put this nearby land up for sale. In September 2015, Carrubba acquired the additional property, expanding Grandview’s footprint.

At the time, the land was hard dirt studded with rocks—not conducive to growing the fertile garden Carrubba envisioned. But, Danielle Suarez and her husband, Nabor, joined as the primary farmers onsite, and the team started by planting a small orchard with stone fruit trees. Today, the orchard is up to approximately 100 trees also including citrus, figs, avocados and apples, and the vegetables grow from organic, non-GMO seeds that Suarez matures in a small greenhouse.

Once mature, seedlings are transplanted into a small in-ground garden that sits behind a 100-year-old barn and into raised beds atop the hill that overlooks the farm. Given all these crops, Carrubba proudly declares that Grandview Farms is truly “seed to table.”

For some of the crops, Suarez favors the “three sisters” farming method, a practice used by the Native Americans. Squash, pole beans and corn are grown in tandem and add nitrogen to the soil. A seasonal rotation of the crops ensures the soil retains necessary nutrients to produce an abundant harvest.

The larger garden features more than a dozen raised beds for carrots, fingerling potatoes, spinach, snap peas and several varieties of kale. The farm also grows more than 100 varieties of tomatoes, some of which the team plans to can for tomato sauce.

Organic pesticides such as neem oil and copper fungicide (used minimally) deter pests, and the garden’s abundance of ladybugs serve as an excellent first line of defense.

Three large solar panels provide all necessary power for the farm, and the garden beds use a drip irrigation system sustained by a natural spring well. According to Suarez, the well water’s high minerality has led to some pleasant surprises in the garden, such as purple-tinged cauliflower.

The fruitful garden and its immediate proximity to the restaurant allows the staff to harvest produce and serve it in the restaurant mere hours later. General Manager Ilya Shnayder remarks that Grandview’s garden-fresh sourcing is unlike any previous restaurant where he has worked. “What you can do with this is endless,” Shnayder enthuses, chewing a freshly picked piece of curly kale. “The flavor is so different than when you’re getting it out of a bag.” At the restaurant later that evening, we enjoyed a salad with scarlet and curly kale, roasted beets and shaved carrots in a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette.

The farm’s chickens provide fresh eggs for the restaurant. In the next six months, Carrubba says he plans to add 60 head of cattle.

“I thought it would be great for the community, and it would be great for the restaurant,” Carrubba says of Grandview’s newest incarnation. As he spoke overlooking the garden, the setting sun cast streaks of orange and purple across the sky. “I just want to share this with everyone. I want everyone to experience it.”

Article from Edible Silicon Valley at http://ediblesiliconvalley.ediblecommunities.com/shop/grand-view-sustainable-farming
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