Alice Bamford and Ann Eysenring, the owners of the biodynamic One Gun Ranch in Malibu, know everything about happy soil and discovering your green thumb. Whether by planting a window box in a city environment where space is tight or making a soil compost and preparing your own biodynamic menus, their new book, One Gun Ranch, Malibu: Biodynamic Recipes for Vibrant Living (Regan Arts), offers simple solutions for seasonal eating designed to optimize health. Throughout the book, Bamford and Eysenring explain the positive impact of biodynamic living and harvesting crops according to the cycles of the moon at their idyllic sunlit California paradise, which they founded in 2008.
The farm itself is a living organism: All living things on the farm are reused and recycled back into the land, and rescued animals roam the ranch freely, contributing to its signature Supersoil that is the foundation of the closed loop system of biodynamic farming. “The foundation to everything is soil, and for delicious nutritious produce you need healthy soil,” says Bamford. “You can also make your own compost from food waste (vegetables, salad, coffee, bread, rice, and even pasta) and mix this with an organic or biodynamic or vine soil to start growing at home” The couple sells their lettuces, beets, carrots, cauliflower, squash, beans, citrus fruits, and avocados to local markets and restaurants throughout Los Angeles, including at their Ranch at the Pier shop located at the end of the iconic Malibu Pier.
For beginners looking to create a garden at home, Bamford suggests deciding what you like to eat and what you want to grow based on that. “Research is the most important thing to do in the beginning before you even start buying materials,” she explains. For those who don’t have the time, space or patience to start a home garden, visit your local green market for pesticide-free produce. “Make a list, but also be open minded and spontaneous, and try something new,” says Eysenring. “You will find lots of produce that you don’t see in grocery stores at the farmers market.” Take your time at the market, and don’t be shy. “All of the markets will allow you to try samples, so don’t be afraid to ask,” says Bamford. “And ask questions. Farmers love informing the people at the market about how to grow or eat the produce they are growing.”
Here, the women of One Gun Ranch share their top eight picks for produce that’s in season now:
This is a smaller type of romaine that is a beautiful burgundy color.
Yummy snaps that kids love! This pea is flat and green and has a fabulous crunch when you bite into it.
This gets its name from its wonderful variety of colored stems: white, red, yellow and pink. This green is slightly salty and reminds us of the ocean with every bite.
Cherry Belle Radish
A beautiful dark pink variety that is on the smaller size, but packs a big spicy punch of flavor.
A peppery green that does better in warmer, sunny conditions, in comparison to other greens, and its flowers are incredibly delicious with a nutty flavor. Also, great atop salads.
Red Russian Kale
This is a beautiful lobbed variety of kale that has a light purple stem. It is great raw or steamed.
Wild Fennel is all over the Southern California area right now, with the help of all of the rain we have been lucky to have this year. We harvest it wild on the farm, but you can easily find it elsewhere.
Nasturtium Flowers and Greens
Now that spring is here, you will see more flowers like nasturtiums. This bright orange spicy flower is beautiful to the eye and mouth. The plant is known for its flowers, but the greens are just as yummy. We love to make a raw nasturtium pesto at the ranch.