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An Alternative Fiesta

Celebrate Fiesta the Shepherd Farms Way with the Mobile Café and Gelato on the Farm


For the second summer in what may become a long-standing area staple, Shepherd Farms in Carpinteria will host its own Fiesta Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Organizers promise that it will be the peaceful getaway from its bigger, louder counterpart further north.

“They had this idea last year of getting people away from the frenzy of downtown and getting people over to the farm instead,” said Nancy Weiss, director of the Santa Barbara School Districts’ Department of Nutrition Services. By “they” she means the folks down at Shepherd Farm, including Tom Shepherd, the man in charge.

“It was a beautiful gathering. Tom has quite a following,” said Weiss. The two have been working together since Weiss opened the SOhO line of restaurants back in 1987, employing the organic produce from Shepherd’s farm. Now she’s more known for feeding 6,500 students daily through 10 production kitchens and her innovative food trucks, which vend lunch at the city’s three high schools. She incorporates local produce—mostly Shephards’—where possible. “Tom’s been really instrumental in bringing light to the organic program in school districts. Without him it would probably have never happened,” said Weiss.

This Saturday, she’ll bring a “Delicious Nutritious Mobile Café” to the farm, and vend items from a menu created with Shepherd’s produce in mind. The menu includes pescado asado, a vegan torta served on pan palera and filled with roasted pasilla chiles, grilled eggplant, zucchini, onion, tomato, and cilantro pesto, and grilled chipotle chicken wings, which will “hopefully be really spice and nice.” Pico de gallo will top everything. To wash it all down, there will be watermelon agua fresca. Fruits and vegetables come entirely from Shephard’s fields.

Here’s the Scoop Gelato will also be at the Shepherd Farms Fiesta, and its gelato makers plan to create authentic Shepherd Farms flavors including strawberry chocolate, mojito, cucumber basil, and strawberry lemonade.

Kjessie Rubke, farm manager of almost one year, is excited to bring salsa dancing to the event this year. “I used to be pretty into the salsa community in Santa Barbara,” she said. The farm’s barn will hold salsa lessons by “La Maestra” Christina Maggio for $5 from 3 to 4 p.m., and open the barn to social dancing from 4 to 6 p.m. “Hopefully the turnout will be bigger this year, because the organic food movement is growing and because of the salsa crowd,” said Rubke. Last year around 200 people attended.

Other attractions will include a piñata (the animal will be a surprise), live music by Son Chaneque, a mariachi group including area kids, and hayrides given by Tom Shepherd himself. “Tom loves to give the hayrides; he just loves to drive the tractor,” said Rubke. “He’s really great with the kids.”

All Fiesta organizers agreed that the event is more about community outreach and having fun than about raising funds.

“For locals, the farm is just like a wonderful piece of heaven on a Saturday afternoon. It’s so beautiful; you walk through the fields and pick strawberries,” raved Weiss. Join her and the crew at Shepherd Farms at 6701 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria to see exactly what she means. And be sure to bring your appetite.

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