Traci Hukill

Staff Writer

U-Pick Guide Released

You can pick your farmers, and you can pick your rows, and now you can pick your farmers’ rows—if you know where to find them. The Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau has just come out with its free Country Crossroads map, which lists direct-sell farms (farm stands, U-Pick and farmers’ markets) throughout Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Benito counties.

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Sealing Home

It ain't hot, but it is cool.

No small number of Santa Cruz greenies wept salty tears last July when government-backed home mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac spiked an innovative plan to encourage home solar installations. But from the ashes of the California First program—which would have allowed homeowners to borrow the cash for rooftop solar systems from local municipalities, then repay it through property tax assessments—has risen Energy Upgrade California (EUC), a statewide program that is perhaps humbler but for which administrators at Santa Cruz’s own Ecology Action, tasked with managing the initiative, have high hopes.

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Summer Festival Preview

Here’s how I know summer has really begun: meat on a stick. When kabobs start making regular appearances on my weekends, I know I’ve got myself a festival season. From now until Labor Day, almost every single weekend offers a chance to mill about with other locals appreciating something or other: music, cars, men with muskets. It’s a good time to be alive and wearing one of those little bracelets for wine.

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State Parks Closure List Released

Seabright State Beach will start seeing reduced services this summer.

Most of the 14 state parks in Santa Cruz County escaped the axe today when the California Department of Parks and Recreation announced its closure list. But not all. Slated for closure—which reportedly means reduced services starting in the summer and padlocks on the gates by July 1 of 2012— are Castle Rock State Park (site of the Skyline-to-the-Sea trailhead), Portola Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, Twin Lakes State Beach and its subsidiary beach (for administrative purposes, anyway) Seabright State Beach. Statewide, 70 parks, or 25 percent of the state total of 278, got their pink slips.

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Nothing to Hate in ‘Hamlet’

Michael La Mere and Shane Johnson in ‘I Hate Hamlet.’

One of the great pleasures of living in Santa Cruz is discovering just how much talent resides here. Evidence of real artistry lurks in totally unexpected places: on the walls of small shops, on the stages of cramped bars—and in small theatrical productions like Mountain Community Theater’s I Hate Hamlet, which runs through May 14 in the Ben Lomond performance hall.

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The Alfresco Almanac

Sandy Crisel and Wendy Bryan toast the sunset at Zelda's. (Chip Scheuer)

Nothing says “I’m not at work right now” like eating outside. Lunch on the patio, dinner under the stars—it’s like an instant transport system to summer vacation on the Mediterranean or a tropical island getaway, where the tables are set out on the sidewalks and decks as a matter of course and where the night air is balmy enough for tank tops.

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