After a short rest in Santa Cruz we began preparations for next dinner the following Saturday: a vegetarian feast set in the Napa mountainside farm/garden that supplies Ubuntu Restaurant. Ubuntu owner Sandy Lawrence's garden is tended by legendary master gardener/farmer Jeff Dawson (pictured below).
On Friday, Leah and Jim drove up to Napa early to visit both the gardens and the restaurant. In the garden we met up with Ubuntu chef Jeremy Fox who showed us around pointing out a variety of unusual crops... ingredients for what is probably the best vegetarian restaurant in the U.S.A.
A Tough Kid/A Worried Parent
While dining that evening at Ubuntu, Jim took a call every parent dreads. Jim's sister Tish was trying to track Jim down (his cell was off ) Jim's 16 year old son Brighton had a very bad skateboard accident with no helmet. He hit some construction debris at high speed while returning home from his food/farming internship at 'Food What!?' up at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Brighton's fall resulted in a traumatic head injury with fractured skull. Witnesses found him in the street unconscious and in convulsions called 911, paramedics arrived in minutes and he was quickly en route from Santa Cruz on a Life Flight helicopter to Palo Alto and Stanford's Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. Hearing the news Jim and Leah rushed to the hospital and arrived as Brighton was in mid-surgery. The scene was grim, all close to Brighton were in shock and hoping for the best. Neurosurgery on two hematomas successfully addressed the problem of life threatening swelling. Brighton was soon moved to the Intensive Care Unit. He remained unconscious for several days. Friends and family gathered in support from Santa Cruz and beyond and visited him at his bedside and watched and waited. After four days Brighton began to awake. His parents, friends and family were ecstatic. Soon, though covered with tubes, neck brace, respirator and IV he was moving around, talking, though still very confused and wrestling with Dad, trying to get out of bed, wanting to be outside and 'get to my garden'.
Full recovery was rapid from that point: Brighton was cleared to soon go home and even given a date to return to school. A return to school with a huge scar across the top of his head. Something to show all the curious kids contemplating a life of danger- without a helmet.
A huge thank you to police, paramedics, helicopter pilot, nurses, doctors and all and everyone who helped Brighton!!
Back to Ubuntu
Thankfully, tour veteran and now Outstanding in the Field private events manager Katy Oursler ably hosted the Ubuntu Gardens dinner. After a long season of events, the OITF crew was more than capable to put together the dinner without Leah and Jim there. (A very proud feeling for Leah- who has worked so hard this season to keep everything running smoothly). Sandy Lawrence and Chef Jeremy were unsure what to expect, although Leah kept reassuring them that everything would run smoothly. And it most definitely did. Katy was a wonderful host and all of the other elements came together seamlessly: an interesting tour of the gardens, a delicious menu and wonderful biodynamic Napa wine.
It was a gorgeous setting: the table fit perfectly at the top of the garden, overlooking the greens, tomatoes, New Zealand spinach and French ice plants. There was a collection of old and new OITF-goers and some veterans said it was one of the nicest events ever, with some of the most delicious food. As has been acknowledged multiple times, Ubuntu is definitely doing something right!
Jim and Leah are looking forward to returning to Napa sometime soon to enjoy the rest of their meal at Ubuntu and hopefully to work with Chef Jeremy Fox and Sandy Lawrence again.
Thank you to our guest Dave Scholl, who sent this photos after the event to share since Jim and Leah weren't there.