Templeton Valley Farms’ organic bounty

U-pick under new berry hoop houses, farm stand with honey, and more are what’s fresh

Every Friday locals pick up their allocated farm share boxes outside a small brown barn up Climbing Tree Lane. Rows and rows of laid back, suntanning sunflowers line the fence at the CCOF certified organic, sustainable Templeton Valley Farms, and it’s quiet – other than some purple berry-stained-faced children coming back from the new U-pick berry tents, and neighbors chatting with Angela, who mans the farm stand, who will describe with her Berlin accent, how to cook any vegetable the healthy way.

There’s the sound of the tractor, or of the 60 Rhode Island Reds and attentive rooster clucking and free-roaming around a postcard pretty pasture, situated amidst 200 fruit trees on the green striped farmland. Listen closer and one can hear the bees buzzing from 10 hives on the property. The five-acre family farm has been in the organic farm business since 2006, and the latest harvest is a rotating plethora of colorful fruits and vegetables.

“We grow 50 to about 55 different types of vegetables,” said Trina Baumsteiger, owner and farmer of Templeton Valley Farms. “The new additions are the hoop houses.”

The bees are back producing honey since June, the non-GMO, organically-fed, pasture-raised, hens are laying eggs with golden consistency, and the farmer’s market boxes, which go for $28 per week ($34 with eggs), are generously overflowing with the summer’s crop. Right now the farm sells plums, peaches, Siberian, Dino and Nash kale varieties, chard, and mustard greens, Summer Squash (including patty pan and zucchini), radishes, cucumber, green beans, tomatoes, broccoli, red and gold beets, carrots, garlic, onions, leeks, peas, cabbage, microgreens, arugula, and eggplant, parsley, cilantro, dill, sage, basil and six different types of peppers.

“Our peppers will be in the ground now until probably late September,” Baumsteiger said. “They’ll keep producing. They’ll turn colors later in the season. Some people don’t know this, but they all start out green and then they turn their colors: reds and yellows, oranges.”

For a little extra shoppers can add bunches of flowers such as lavender and sunflowers to their baskets, as well as honey and eggs.

“Our corn is coming on this week, which is great. It’s not in abundance. They have to get here early to get it,” said Baumsteiger about the hard-to-find organic kandy korn variety.

“Raspberries go into September/October, so don’t give up on them, because they’re going to keep coming. Blackberries will probably go for another two to three weeks through the end of August.”

Baumsteiger co-farms with her husband Edwin Rambuski. Rambuski runs his own law practice in San Luis Obispo, and works with his wife on the farm part-time. He is the king of the tractor, but Baumsteiger said he is the best at fixing everything that breaks.

“We break things, and he fixes them,” Baumsteiger said.

The couple also employs five part-time employees who help with washing and hand harvesting, food stand, planting, and arranging the farm share boxes.

Baumsteiger is a Bay Area native and Cal Poly graduate with a bachelor's in kinesiology and physical education, “Something I’m not doing right now at all,” she laughed.

“I always loved to grow things,” she said of motivations to go into farming. “My father and I and my grandmother used to grow a fair amount in our small little garden.”

Baumsteiger considers her husband her farming mentor, as he grew up working on his family dairy farm in Upstate New York.

“We started with just a little rolling cart that we did on the honor system,” Baumsteiger remembered.

They began harvesting all their food from their home property in Templeton and sold their goods from a wooden cart across the street. After about six years, she said, “we decided we’d go a little bigger, bought this property and now you have what we call a working farm.”

The farm uses simple, pesticide-free farming practices, enriching the nutrients in the soil by using certified organic seed and fertilizer.

“The season’s been great. The berries are just over the top. People love to come out and pick their berries. We do the U-pick on the weekends. A lot of kids. Heaps!” Baumsteiger said.

Gaining in popularity has been Templeton Valley Farms’ farm share boxes. The “Farmers Market box” contains a rainbow of the seasonal fruits and vegetables, and are given the option of a one time trial, weekly or biweekly.

In addition to supplying food to a few local commercial accounts such as Courtney’s House in Templeton and SLO Natural Foods Co-op, the farm drops off farm share boxes at Rambuski’s law office for the San Luis Obispo customers on Thursdays. Baumsteiger also hopes to get into selling to the newly forming Paso Robles Co-op.

“I think it’s important to have the customer see the farm, where the food’s growing, talk to the farmer, get it first hand from the farmer and really appreciate local, fresh, organic food.”

The farm stand and U-Pick berries are located at 880 Climbing Tree Lane in Templeton. Summer hours are Tuesday and Friday, 2-6 p.m.; Saturday 9-3 p.m.; and Sunday 10-2 p.m. Look for the road signs. To contact the farm about a farm box, call (805) 234-6912 or visit templetonvalleyfarms.com.