Becky Herbert with pies. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Becky Herbert with pies. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Even though the Farmhouse Cafe in Hollister is closed due to labor shortages, founder Becky Herbert is still very busy with her Eating With the Seasons farm box program and is almost halfway through her summer dinner series, The Supper Club, which she hosts with chef Mike Fisher.

“I am celebrating my 20th year operating Eating With the Seasons,” she said, “so I decided to celebrate by offering 20 three-course dinner boxes through 2022 to acknowledge all the producers I have been working with and also all the food that my mom made when I was growing up that influenced me in opening Farmhouse Cafe.”

Herbert opened Farmhouse Cafe at 615 San Benito Street in 2016 after having produced prepared foods for the Eating With the Seasons Community Assisted Agriculture (CSA) program.

“I was renting someone else’s kitchen,” she said, “and I decided that I wanted my own space. I grabbed this when it became open and spent a year fixing it up.”

Her parents, Pat and Patti Herbert, started the program as the Herbert Family CSA.

“My dad has been a farmer his whole life and was the fourth generation in our family to farm,” she said. “With the way that farming was declining, he decided to reach out to the community to start a weekly box program to go in a new marketing direction.” 

Herbert got involved when she was offered a temporary job by her parents to help build sales and find new markets. She quickly expanded the customer base to include Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook, currently servicing around 1,200 customers. But she found herself wanting to make a change and opened the cafe.

“After a few months of hands-on experience with the fresh produce,” she said, “I found myself enjoying cooking. So I decided to make cooking a permanent career change. I started as a terrible cook, but I decided I would not just become a good cook but have people want to buy my food.”

Amid post-COVID supply and labor shortages, Herbert found that keeping Farmhouse Cafe open was untenable for the moment, so she has been focusing on catering, cooking demonstrations, and this year’s Supper Club.

“My dream has been to reopen,” she said, “But I just bought another prepared food business, the catering is very popular, and you can only do so much with the way things are going now.”

The Supper Club is a themed bi-weekly program that offers prepared three-course meals made from local meat and produce. Herbert is in the process of creating the next installment, and the public can place orders for the upcoming offerings.

“This next dinner will start with a chopped salad with a mustard vinaigrette, which is an homage to the one my mom would always make,” she said. “I am making stuffed bell peppers because my dad always grew peppers and we had stuffed peppers a lot. And then I am doing a triple berry pie for dessert.”

Even while she prepares the next offering, Herbert is thinking about what the next supper will be.

“I know I want to do a lasagne dinner when the weather gets colder,” she said. “I do a butternut squash lasagne, and I will probably do that sometime soon.”

The meals are $55 and feed two people. They can be picked up at Farmhouse Cafe on the Tuesday they are released, or they can be delivered.

The meals also come with a newsletter detailing the local products being used and have included contributions by local farmers such as Lisa Knutson of Pasture Chick Ranch.

Herbert hopes that spotlighting the foods grown in San Benito County will encourage people to seek out local markets for fresh meats and produce rather than buy from larger commercial stores.

“The idea behind making these meals is to celebrate and capture the relationship between myself and the producers out there,” she said. “I think it is extremely important to the local economy to use local foods, and we are in the center of an area that has virtually your entire diet, and that is my goal with my Summer Dinner series: to offer as many local foods as I can.”



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