El Dorado Gold 2016 in Placerville, CA Sept. 11-18 opened with a bang!

They appeared in costumes, with banners, flags, horse teams and carriages.  Nations from A to Z by the hundreds came in for the panning competition (tomorrow’s blog).




The law and the lawless appeared, as did many of Placerville’s costumed (or not) characters.  There were “ladies of the night”, hundreds of gold panning competitors from every nation you could name.  John Sanders and daughter (Old Town Grill and  Smith Flat House Restaurant) and the Fausel family (Placerville Hardware) all joined in to prepare and serve up John’s version of “Miner’s Stew”, a delicious recipe including wild turkey, rabbit, local heirloom tomatoes and vegetables.



See the 63-pg. booklet of the entire gold event on



              Michal, Native Daughter of the Golden West.teamandcarriagea-for-australiaslovakialadies-of-the-night


South African delegates loved the stew!




You’re likely to see your local farming family, like the Hoovers (Hooverville Orchards, Placerville, CA, or the Perez family)  all pitching in to get the farm fresh produce out and about.

This is where Real Honest to Goodness takes place:  Real Food without hormones, pesticides, wax, sprays and irradiation.  Certified Farmers Markets foster the community as well as the farmers who grew your nourishment, because WholeFarmilyatF.Mktwithout them there is no food.  Farmers markets and farms are vital to the community and its economic sustainability.  Local restaurants rely on farm fresh produce and are quick to explain “locally grown” to customers who today seek fresher and healthier menu choices.  Farmers know that good food does not come in a box.  We need to teach children that delicious fruit does not grow inside a grocery store.  You will often meet the whole family or at least part of it.  The other half may be at another market location that same day.Kevin andBenFarmersMkt2016

Farm families often work all week, picking, planting, planning, and constructing within their farmland.  Summer weekends are devoted to sharing their bounty, Mother Earth’s bounty, with you.  You have the opportunity to meet and talk to the people who grew your food.  This is your chance to bring your family and encourage them to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables…the very ones they can pick out themselves.

You will run into friends, neighbors and perhaps make new acquaintances.  This is an activity much more important than talking politics, or shopping for shoes.  You can taste before you buy, and even get a discount if the farmer is smart enough to have “ugly fruit” for a better price.  You can find out exactly how the food was grown, and satisfy your concerns about food safety or problems growing your own vegetables.  RedBeets                              Eggplant:Cucumbers

You will find more than fruits and vegetables.  It’s an adventure discovering local honey, for example, not any from far away lands that are laced with sweeteners and chemical preservatives.

“If it came from a plant, eat it;
if it was made in a plant, don’t. ” 

―  Michael Pollan

local honeyColoma

Full Moon Farm


Greg holds two of his customers’ favorite sweet tomatoes: Sun Gold.


Greg Henry, Stephanie Lewis
3580 Big Cut Rd.
Placerville, CA 95667
Visit Full Moon Farm on Facebook

A country road takes you up hills and curves to a 32-acre farm nestled in a forest setting that feels far and away from the city just a mile or so back there. Nearby, huge rock cliffs soar upward and serve as the name for road, “Big Cut.” Turns out it is an old gold mining piece, hydraulically troughed out, touching Coon Hollow* and the creek down the canyon.

Greg on his tractor ready for clearing, plowing, feeding the pigs, you name it.

Greg on his tractor ready for clearing, plowing, feeding the pigs, you name it.

We are met by the farm’s sentries Baisa and Bubby who loudly bark our arrival. Stephanie greets us and calls Greg off his morning chores and we begin our tour. An old stone chimney marks the site of the original residence, burned in a fire years back. Greg acquired the property in October 2013 and has been hard at work to clear the land and create a full working farm. Greg tells us he plans to rebuild the home one day, “funds and God providing.” Farm fresh greens line the beds in the 7 acres already cleared, tilled and planted. The two young farmers get ready for the first of the local farmers markets in town, opening the first Saturday in May each year for the season through November. Local restaurants in town also use up much of the farm’s bounty, happy to be able to offer real “farm to fork” fresh local provisions on their diners’ plates.

“There is a growing market share as the public is buying more organic food. I have found nothing but support….everyone is on your side despite the costs and hassles of organic farming,” Greg emphasized. He said that he thanked Jimmy Carter for resurrecting the farmers market idea and went on to explain that farmers markets have become an important part of our culture, as they were years ago.

Greg is a member of more than one farmers market, finding it a good resource for networking with the community and individual customers alike.

Greg is a member of more than one farmers market, finding it a good resource for networking with the community and individual customers alike.

“More young farmers are also coming forward because there are many opportunities and resources available and organizations ready to help with funding,”** Greg said. He himself obtained a grant from the Natural Resources Conservancy Services (NRCS) for his 3000 square-foot High Tunnel greenhouse now on the property. Plantings include green beans, tomatoes, cantaloupes, mixed greens and more in the 30’ wide, 100’ long shelter.


Full Moon Farm’s new big greenhouse called a “Big Tunnel.”

Nearby lies a large, recently plowed plot Greg had planted with vetch, fava, bell bean and oats — “green manure” he calls it. “It adds biomass back into the soil, which should be at least 3-5% organic material. To test the nutrient value he sent livestock into the pasture of greens he had planted there. “They went for the oats,” Greg said, “and when I measured them on the refractometer, their sugar content (nutrient measure) was 16 brix! Animals naturally know what are the best building blocks for life.”


Tending Mother Earth also means making sure the soil is abundantly healthy and full of nutrition.

In the small greenhouse, Greg shows us how he warms the seedling trays so they think it is earlier in the year, solving germination issues he had last year. Below the shelf of trays, onions are planted next to cabbage seedlings, a demonstration of integrated pest management (IPM) because, “bugs hate the onion family,” he says, “and it’s just another way to do companion planting.” He holds up a couple of Sun Gold seedlings, a sweet tomato favorite at the farmers’ markets. In consideration of other local farmers who specialize in tomatoes, however, Greg says that he is not planning on a huge crop. “I’d rather sell produce to those restaurants that favor organic greens, for example, like Jack Russell, Farm Table and Tim’s Brown Bag.” He said that this little greenhouse helped him sell greens all winter to the local “Totem” coffee house.

Little Greenhouse_FullMoon

Warming those seedling trays in the small greenhouse.

Warming those seedling trays in the small greenhouse.

Stephanie mounts the tractor and prepares to feed the Red Wattle Heritage Texas pigs on the property with the spoiled apples given to them by Hooverville Orchards, another local farm. “They eat well,” the couple explains. “Organic kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps, leftovers from the farmers markets, and organic feed we have shipped from Oregon. It’s one of the few available organic, pesticide and chemical-free feed providers.”


These unique American hogs are bred for pastured environments. The fleshy wattle attached to each side of the neck has no purpose. There are only three tiers of the breed left in America.

Piglets born 4_12.FullMoon

Piglets born middle of April 2016.

Obviously proud of the small herd, they tell of the piglets, which are often sold to other farms, and the custom “shares” of organic pork once it is butchered and sold through Archer’s Meats in Placerville.

“The pigs help clear the land of roots and vines, so we move them from time to time,” Stephanie explained. “Pigs are excellent land tenders compared to other livestock,” Greg explains. “They are designed to get nutrition from rooting out those old blackberries and poison oak, helping me to clear and turn the land at the same time. They favor the poison oak, eating it up like candy.”


The Big Daddy Boar. He eats poison oak like candy!

Black Mission and Conadria figs comprise the beginning of the orchard, and plantings of perennials, like berries and table grapes, round out the farm’s available produce.

“I’m working toward one-third fruit, one-third animals and one-third vegetables for diversification,” Greg stated. He went on to explain that in Humboldt College, where he studied Forestry, he learned of the Waldorf School and the concept of biodynamic farming. After college, he worked in eight different ranches throughout California and felt that this was “a calling, what I’m supposed to do,” he said. “I learned it quicker and was more interested; it just made so much sense, and the whole world opened up from there.”


*Coon Hollow Mine (Excerpt from Doug Noble’s “Mines of El Dorado County” with permission.)

“The Coon Hollow Mine, which included the Excelsior Claim, was one of the largest drift and hydraulic mines in El Dorado County. It was located one mile south of Placerville at what is now appropriately known as Big Cut. From 1852 to 1861 the gravel was removed by drifting and between 1861 and 1871, by hydraulic means. Water for the water ‘cannons’ was brought by ditch and pipe from miles up the American River Canyon. Through the use of water pressure, ten million dollars in gold was removed from gravel that averaged about $1 per yard (yes, that is 10,000,000 cubic yards of material, or more, that was removed). The tailings from the operation, which were deposited in the canyons to the south, were later mined for silica and even later for aggregate to build bridges and roads.”

** Excerpt from “Along with consumer demand for organics, increasingly they are asking for local foods. Under Secretary Vilsack, USDA has provided more than $1 billion in investments to more than 40,000 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects since 2009. Industry data estimates that U.S. local food sales totaled at least $12 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion in 2008.”

“USDA has also established a number of resources to help organics producers find technical and financial resources to help them grow domestically and abroad. USDA has made market and pricing information for approximately 250 organic products available free of charge through USDA’s Market News. In 2015, USDA made more than $11.5 million available to assist organic operations with their certification costs.”


Fausel Ranch


4881 Hanks Exchange Rd.
Placerville, CA 95667

Proprietors: David and Deanna Fausel

The Fausel Ranch is listed in California’s Agricultural Heritage Club and received special recognition in 2010 with a plaque in their honor. The ranch’s first year of operation is listed as 1877, but the Fausels were busy long before then.

Best Emil Fausel

There are two family founders to be acknowledged who immigrated from Germany: Fred and Mari Giebenhain who built the brick house on Placerville’s Main Street circa 1860 and started a brewery there. And Kasper and Filomena Fausel of Germany and Switzerland who settled on Hanks Exchange Road in Placerville circa 1870.

Fred and Mari Giebenhain had five boys and two girls. Kasper and Filomena Fausel had five children. Kasper’s eldest son, Emil, married Giebenhain’s daughter, Mary in 1900. They lived in the downtown brick house until Mary’s death in 1959. She was 90 years old.


Kasper was known for his rock masonry work, building cellars and buildings in El Dorado County. He is listed in the George Peabody book of History. Other attentions involved horses, wine, potatoes, grapes, cows and milk sold to Sacramento Crystal Creamery. The biggest venture was the brewery downtown, where “Mountain Steam Beer” became so well known it won 1902 World’s Fair recognition in St. Louis. It was said to cure everything from women’s ailments to sunburn. Prohibition in 1921 closed that venture, and the family took up farming on the then 40 acres on Hanks Exchange Rd.

The property included the Squaw Creek Dam that was built in 1861, but broke down a year later. The water from Cosumnes River that feeds the ditch run to Squaw Creek is still used by the County’s Irrigation District. Diamond & Caldor Railway also ran through a corner of the property.

Kaspar’s sons Emil, and Bill both worked the ranch and also worked the Victory Mine until his youngest son, Albert closed it. Albert continued working the ranch until 1975. Eggs, milk cows, pears, apples and vegetables from his large garden kept the family busy. Emil’s son, Frank Fausel, married Helen Rudkin in 1945 and had two sons, David and Dan, both of whom have been living and working in Placerville.


David and Deanna Fausel own and operate (with their son Albert) the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi – a veritable gold mine for residents, visitors and tourists in Placerville. “It has everything,” locals often say, “if you can’t find it there, they don’t make it.” Gold mining tools, equipment and supplies are well stocked. Employees of the store participated in the 1998 World Gold Panning Championship held in Coloma. 2016 is a busy gold mining year for the entire County as participants in the World Gold Panning Championship event descend on the area in April and in September taking prospecting to the next level.




The Fausel family ranch on Hanks Exchange grew from the original family property to 93 acres, 15 of which is heavily planted with peach, nectarine, four varieties of cherry (some boasting 30+ years), plum, chestnut and pomegranate trees.

In addition to weather (especially rain at the wrong time or no chilling hours), gophers, voles and other wildlife, “it’s a constant vigil,” he explained. “In 30 years, I never had peach rot ‘til last year, an internal rot. Everything you do is preventive. If you see it, it’s too late. You can lose a whole crop that way. If a disease is present in the tree, it isn’t enough to spray, you spray it, and cut it down.”

“I just love farming,” David Fausel says. “I like to grow good food, work away from the hustle and bustle, investigate and try different varieties to grow, and try to beat Mother Nature’s dirty tricks.”



“I tried organic growing at one time,” he said. “But honestly, it’s way too much spraying, too often. Manufacturers are very up-to-date on ecology, organics and the like. There are specific sprays for specific pests, so you’re not inundating the entire orchard with chemicals.”


Nectarine blossoms_Fausel

All spraying is done during dormant or early bloom and long gone by the time fruit arrives. He hand thins the fruit himself, emphasizes the need for heavy winter pruning and the need for frequent replanting/replacing trees. David emphasized that he is planning more orchard space and expects to keep the farm running indefinitely.

“It’s very much a family affair,” Deanna Fausel says. “It’s a joy to watch three generations picking peaches, there is plenty of hustle and bustle, and then helping with a late, big family dinner. I don’t think farm to fork is such a new idea. I remember grandma collecting eggs and taking them downtown to trade or sell.”

Today, David sells much of the fruit he raises at a roadstand at the end of their driveway, or at the hardware store. “And it all goes,” he says.

Green Chef Press Newsletter: April 2016


Greetings from Placerville, California and welcome to the Green Chef Press newsletter!

This month, Green Chef Press launched its new blog on WordPress. I am excited to share my passion for farm-to-table cuisine, health, nutrition, wellness, and recipes that will get you cooking in your kitchen. I look forward to meeting you and welcome any of your questions. I want to hear from you!

The Latest News from the Blog:

Spring is in the Air!

While we wait for cherries, berries and other spring bounty, our garden is in grow mode. Don’t forget to keep your roots moist so plants can access nutrients. It’s such a beautiful season with the scent of blossoms fresh in the air. Find out here how to recognize the blossoms you see.

Celebrate Spring with Asparagus

3443126ASPARAGUS! The spring veggie loved by many, or few? We Italians love it every which way and, from the excitement this past weekend at the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival in Stockton, California, we know many enjoy this wonder veggie.

It’s not surprising since this is the biggest festival of its kind in the west! San Joaquin County grows the most asparagus of any place in the U.S.

Did you know asparagus is rich in vitamins B and E, is great for your immunity, and slows the aging process?

Celebrate spring’s first green vegetable with these recipes: Fried Asparagus with Dipping Sauce or mixed with spinach into a fabulous Asparagus and Spinach Frittata. Check out the wild asparagus notes from my friend Anne in Italy!

Placerville in the News

Spring is the season for festivals and I just happened to be in Placerville when our local news station was in town interviewing the Fausel family, the proud owners of the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi, Placerville Hardware. They shared their preparations for the Gold Prospecting and Mining Summit and the next big event, the World Gold Panning Championship at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds which will take place in September 2016. More on that to come.

Whole Grains

Are you eating enough whole grains? Whole grains are an excellent way to nourish your body and boost your intake of protein and fiber. Combine whole grains with vegetables in this Multi Grain Pilaf that will satisfy even your pickiest eaters. Remember brown rice pasta is another way to get your grains. Try this Brown Rice Pasta and Shrimp Entree for a quick and healthy meal.


For a sweet treat, use whole grains to make this delectable gluten-free Vanilla Coconut Pound Cake.  I recommend using products from Bob’s Red Mill, which are available in most grocery stores, outlets and health food stores.

From the Green Chef Press Kitchen:
Recipes for April

Poppyseed Muffin

Artichoke and Sun-dried Tomatoes Pasta Dinner
Asparagus with Quinoa
Asparagus and Spinach Frittata

Fried Asparagus with Dipping Sauce
Brown Rice Pasta and Shrimp Entree
Eggplant, Tomato and Feta Salad
Lemon Blackberry Pie
Multi Grain Pilaf
Orange Poppyseed Muffins
Vanilla Coconut Pound Cake

Until next time, be well and bon appétit!

About the Author
Betty Albert is a native Californian and resident of Placerville since 2003. She is retired from her own Health Nut Products company where she worked as a baker, caterer, personal chef, and served on the board of the Placerville Natural Foods Co-op. She recently published an ebook, “Lost in Italy and Loving It!” Her latest endeavor will be a “Farm to Table” series, reflecting her admiration for the farms and their owners, and in celebration of food everywhere.

Placerville in the News

Channel 10 visited Placerville Hardware early Friday, April 8 while Walt Gray was at Sweetie Pies interviewing an El Dorado County favorite. It’s the April 15-18 2016 Gold Prospecting and Mining Summit that is highlighting Placerville’s history prior to the September 2016 World Gold Panning Championship event at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds.


The Fausel family’s fourth generation was present in Albert Fausel’s 3 yr old son, AJ, who busied himself on the floor with gold panning activity.

Third generation Albert Fausel showed the camera crew the Superchamp gold panning dish the hardware store carries ($150) is the favorite among local and worldwide enthusiasts. “It’s the Ferrari of gold panning dishes,” he explained. “Panners want to get their time under a minute without loosing gold, and this pan is the speediest.”

Albert went on to show his gold nuggets, siphoned out of the American River, a technique he recommends as quick and easy. The store sells the tiny vials of gold nuggets and red garnets in a pouch for $10. The oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi is reputed to “have everything—you can find it there, whatever it is.” Amy Carabba, reporter, and Adam Christy, cameraman, followed Albert and his father, David Fausel about the store while they showed historical photographs of the store’s founder, Emil Fausel, who bought Placerville Hardware from Al Kiebers in 1952.

The last world championship panning event took place in Coloma in 1998, attended by throngs on visitors, including Pete Wilson, then California Governor. This years championship occurs during “Gold Week”, Sept. 11-18 and glitters with activities that are expected to attract thousands. The California Federation of Mineralogical Societies’ Rock and Gem Show Convention Sept. 16-18 will bring its own enthusiasts to participate in the dozens of activities and events planned in the city and surrounds.

Italian Tour Guide Now Fan of Placerville

Anne Robichaud had a few days free during her U.S. cooking tour and dropped into Placerville recently. Lucky enough to have seen her kitchen prowess in Livermore a couple of years ago, she called me for a quick visit downtown. Every other exclamation was, “I love this town!” She prowled around the antique stores and Violet’s with fervor, had lunch at Heydey and heard all about the ghosts that might still haunt the Carey Hotel.AnneRatCareyHotelFull.jpg

One of Anne’s favorite things to talk about, research and taste is Olive Oil, of course, so Leslie at Winterhill gave Anne a “festival of tastes”, including the olive oil that won such International acclaim two years in a row, named “Shakespeare’s Acre”. This is a blend of 7 Tuscan varietal olives grown on the Winterhill farm in Placerville, CA.

Shakespeare’s Acre won the Silver Medal at the international competition in New York City and last year won the GOLD MEDAL!

California Olive Oil Council Certified Extra-Virgin (as all of Winterhill Olive Oils are) Shakespeare’s Acre tested out as having no negative attributes and comes in at a free fatty acid level of .2%.   This is far below the required level of .5% at California Olive Oil Council. The lower the free fatty acid level, the higher the antioxidant levels.AnneRinWinterhillFull.JPG

A beautiful full bodied extra-virgin with multi layered flavors of green grass, fruit and earthy notes, it enhances all foods with increased flavor profiles and provides superior health benefits as well.

Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in Italy in the 1970’s, so rural life, people and Umbrian cuisine are “una passione” for her. Now a tour guide in central Italy for most of the year, Anne teaches Umbrian rural cuisine classes in private U.S. homes in Feb/Mar. See

Anne writes frequently of Umbrian and other feast days and celebrations, of visits to cities all over Italy’s culinary spectrum, often complete with recipes. Sign up at the Italian Notebook and/or join Anne’s Inside” Umbria tour in May!