The Sunol Ag Park Partnership, is an 18-acre project between Alameda County Resource Conservation District and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. That’s a mouthful. More importantly, the offspring of the partnership is dozens of flourishing small farming enterprises. One of those parcels belongs to Namu Farm, a partnership between farmer, Kristyn Leach and Namu Gaji Restaurant in San Francisco.
Six years ago Kristyn, who is of Korean ancestry, was introduced to, “The Lee Brothers” - Dennis, David and Daniel Lee, a trio of Korean American restaurateurs and well-established and regarded members of the Bay Area restaurant community. It was Russell Moore and Allison Hopelain, the pair behind Oakland’s Camino Restaurant who suggested they meet. Kristyn, who at that time had already been farming at the Ag Park for two years, dropped off a sample of perilla. A mutual affinity for peppers, plus the fortuitous timing in which the brothers were also looking to start their own farm to supply their restaurant, made them fast partners.
Dennis, the eldest of the three, provided seeds from his family for Kristyn to grow. Things went well and group’s partnership formalized after the first harvest. For Kristyn, seeds have come to represent an important part of connecting her past and future. Her Korean cultural heritage is preserved in the preservation of Gochu-jang, a fermented Korean chili paste from the Sunchang is region in the southwest of Korea. After a series of seed trials, she's partnered with Kitazawa Seed Company - a one-hundred year-old seed company specializing in Asian varieties. Preserving these seeds keeps Kristyn connected to her land near in Sunol, and perhaps, her heritage.
We hope you enjoy our interview with Kristyn, recorded in February from the farm in Sunol. And, if you get this in time, we hope you’ll join us on Sunday March 6th for Farm-to-Fork SF, Beneath the Surface brunch series. Tickets can be found here.