Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jimmy's Pies (and Backyard Raspberries) from Avonova Farms

Posted By on Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 7:43 AM

click to enlarge Peach pie, made with Frog Hollow fruit, $12. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Peach pie, made with Frog Hollow fruit, $12.
Monday, September 20, 2010

click to enlarge JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
Jimmy Pedersen started just a few years ago with four small raspberry plants. This year, his sprawling backyard in North Oakland will likely produce 200 pounds of the delicate little berries - Pedersen sells them for $3 per basket Sundays, from a table he sets up in front of his house on Avon Street, two blocks from the Temescal farmers' market. Pedersen offers homemade pies, too, frozen, unbaked, most of them made with fruit he gets from Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood in exchange for lemons from his backyard tree. What kind of lemons? No, not Meyers. "They're some kind of North Oakland hybrid they like for their lemon tarts," says Pedersen, 65, a retired building contractor. His company built the Frog Hollow stall in the Ferry Building, which is how Pedersen got to know Frog Hollow founder farmer Al Courchesne. Courchesne has paid a couple of visits to the backyard farm Pedersen dubbed Avonova Farms. Farmer Al offered tips on pruning.

Pedersen, who looks like a pot-bellied Ned Flanders, is the quintessential urban farmer. "This is all pretty darn unplanned," he tells me, but the extra income from the sale of his pies and raspberries helps supplement his social security checks. Pedersen calls himself a "compost militant": he uses coffee grounds, leaves he sweeps up from his own street, and ones he gets from the street cleaners who work nearby Telegraph Avenue. "All I have to do is sort out the condoms and needles," he says.

There are two raspberry seasons: in spring, between March and June, and again in July until sometime in October, though this year's cool summer should extend the fall harvest. Pedersen sells berries to Yasai Produce Market on College Avenue in Rockridge, and to a baker who calls herself the Cake Lady, who incorporates them into scones. The raspberry ones are available Fridays at Remedy Coffee (4316 Telegraph, at 43rd St.) in Temescal.

Pedersen's raspberries are small and delicate, in the way even farmers' market berries usually aren't. The taste: musky rose perfume hovering above a bright lemon acidity. And the pies? The Frog Hollow peach specimen we tried was delicious, with fruit that'd rendered into a sweet, golden pomade, in a sturdy lattice crust on the edge of yielding.

Avonova Farms: Sunday mornings in front of 417 Avon (at Shafter), Oakland.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"