Al Courchesne, affectionately known as "Farmer Al," planted his first peach orchard in 1976. In the years that followed, he learned the best ways to grow all sorts of other foods too, including apples, plums, and most anything else that can sprout in Californian soil. Eventually, Al started Frog Hollow Farm, producing steady harvests for more than 20 years as a certified organic farmer with a focus on sustainable practices.
Frog Hollow's success likely lies in Al's fine-tuned growing process. As harvest nears, Al and his staff purposely underwater the trees. They also leave every piece of fruit on the branch until it's completely ripened. The process results in a heavily concentrated flavor, which has garnered much attention from national publications, including the New York Times, Better Homes and Gardens, O Magazine, and Cooking Light Magazine.
Farmer Al keeps all 133 acres of his farm in constant operation. Therefore, the farm is generally closed off to the public except for occasional special events. Locals, however, have plenty of opportunities to taste the seasonal harvests without secretly stowing away inside incoming shipments of fertilizer. They can buy the fruit at Frog Hollow Farm Market inside of the Ferry Building or get it shipped directly to their home via the farm’s delivery program. Otherwise, they can head to the farm kitchen, where chef Becky Courchesne uses it in turnovers, cookies, and other goods. The farm also sends blemished, but useable produce to their Community Supported Agriculture Program.
The Smiths don't have a family tree. Instead, their legacy stretches back through a long vine, all the way to the heirloom tomato farmers of Spain. In the 1970s, Janice, Ken, Bill, and Shirley Smith opened Smith Family Farm to carry on that legacy. Their staff has since grown to include cousins, other relatives, and family friends, all of whom lend a hand in growing the farm's seasonal produce. The literal fruits of their labor arrive at The Smith Family Farm Fruit Stand, which showcases a rotating selection of fresh basil, strawberries, peppers (both hot and sweet), and various other fruits and veggies.
The farm itself also welcomes visitors. Throughout the growing season, its gardens invite families to pick their own fresh fruits and vegetables, including plums, apricots, and squash. The farmers themselves double as educators, and their spring tours for elementary and preschool-aged children lift the curtain on farm life?which, of course, includes opportunities to dance along to bluegrass music.
In 1946, John Kinder opened his first meat market in the Bay Area town of San Pablo. More than 65 years later, Kinder continues to oversee daily operations at more than 15 neighborhood locations. He owes his continued success, in part, to the second- and third-generation family members who have leant their own tireless dedication to the company.
This dedication has certainly paid off. The Kinder family’s barbecue sauces, marinades, and rubs consistently take first-place ribbons from judges across the country and have earned the market a loyal following of cowboys and outlaws alike. In a 2008 article on what to order at Major League ballparks, the New York Times hailed the ball-tip steak sandwich and its "mess of Kinder's smoky-sweet sauce" as a much-welcome relief from the fried menu items at McAfee Coliseum. :m]]
At first glance, Danville International Market looks like a typical American corner store. There’s a small produce section in the corner with fresh fruit, loaves of bread on the shelves, and a station for tea and coffee. However, a closer look reveals the International side of its inventory. In addition to racks that hoist rice and spices from around the globe, the deli counter serves up Mediterranean favorites such as split pea stew, baba ghannouj, and kabobs. They also offer international pastries, including baklava and Persian cookies.
Along one side of Il Fiorello's olive groves, a creek creates just the right kind of soil drainage for the hearty trees that flourish in sunny, dry conditions. Totaling more than 2,000 in number, the trees help produce the award-winning olive oils that are crafted on-site. Visitors to Il Fiorello?which means "little flower" in Italian and nothing in Japanese?can tour the olive mill, which works through an impressive three tons of olives per hour. From there, guests can head to the tasting room to try samples of the finished product, as well as balsamic vinegar reductions.
Nostalgia tastes sweet at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, a shop specializing in old-fashioned treats that many regulars fondly recall from the past. Confectioners slice creamy fudge on a marble slab and dunk crisp apples into caramel that bubbles in a traditional copper kettle. Strawberries are dipped in chocolate and then drizzled, and tubs of caramel-coated popcorn and nuts are packaged together in bags. There is much to drool over at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, including non-chocolate items like licorice and even dog treats dipped in a creamy white confection for man's best friend or a weird cousin. The chocolate factory also offers an app with special coupons, rewards card, and in-store deals.