I’ve chosen the name Urban Preserves because I am hoping to embody the principles of the Urban Homesteading movement–everything I make is local, seasonal, organic, and made in the traditional, home-made way. In addition, I’m not doing this on a farm or in a small town…I am a proud resident of Oakland, CA, a city (about as urban as they come) of 400,000 people. I’m a member of the Slow Food movement, and also hope to represent their values in my business. I hope you enjoy reading about my jam-making and pickling adventures! Below is a little bit of history about my path to this point.
I think the first inspiration for my love of local, seasonal foods began in Aix-en-Provence, France, when I lived there as a student in 1997. Walking around the daily markets, I saw how the local families cooked and ate–shopping for fresh, local produce brought to market by those who had produced it. After many trips back over the years, I spent a week at a cooking school in the Dordogne Region in 2007, where the same principles were taught. After returning, I was inspired to shop and cook that way as much as possible myself.
Since those early student days, I’ve made many forays into cooking, from the exotic to the mundane. Though I’ve loved my Thai cooking adventures, I feel most fulfilled preparing meals based on food I’ve grown myself. This had led me to embrace organic gardening, and convert much of the yards in my homes the last few years into edible gardens.
Though I had dabbled in preserving for a couple of years, in summer 2009, I finally decided to learn the art of preserving from an expert. I signed up for a class with Ruby Blume, who runs a fascinating school out of her Oakland home called the Institute of Urban Homesteading. Armed with confidence and skill (thanks, Ruby!), I began making jam in earnest! 1000-plus jars later, I feel like I’m finally an expert…
I think what made this project such a great fit for me was the opportunity to use local, fresh, seasonal produce, to grow some of what I turn into preserves, and to experiment with flavor combinations! Though I never planned to make this a business, I received requests from those I had shared my first attempts with, and began selling a few jars here and there. And now here we are!
I got involved in the Underground Markets in San Francisco in January of 2010, and have been selling at the SF and occasional Oakland events since then. I have so enjoyed the opportunity to meet all of the amazing people who participate in the markets, both as vendors and as customers. I especially love sharing samples of my jams and pickles, and talking with customers about the sourcing and making of my products. I can’t wait to see you at a future event!
Thanks for visiting my blog. I use this as a forum for sharing details about the products I’m selling, including how they are made, sources for ingredients, and pictures.