By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Former chef at Chicago’s Frontera Grill turned organic gardener, Kamala Gamble is owner and operator of Guilford Gardens located in northwest Oklahoma City. The two-acre urban farm is dedicated to producing high-quality local food.
Before Gamble became a chef and worked with national personality and Oklahoma native Rick Bayless, she was a bank examiner with a degree from the University of Oklahoma.
Out of her love of local food and cooking with fresh, healthy ingredients, Gamble began the Guilford Gardens Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) over 10 years ago.
“We sold to the farmers market for the first couple of years and we’ve been CSA for ten years,” Gamble said. “We sell seasonal, organically grown vegetables and herbs through our CSA program.”
Community Supported Agriculture links a nearby farmer to the people who eat the food produced there. By purchasing the food, participants invest in the farmer’s methods and the harvest.
“I planned to start with 10 people. I had 20 -25 that first year and have been steadily going up every since,” said Gamble.
The Guilford CSA sells fresh, organic produce 40 out of 52 weeks a year to approximately 85 local subscribers, each receiving a weekly assortment of vegetables. CSA bags are delivered to members’ homes or workplaces within a designated delivery area. Several signup options are available.
The Fall CSA is from early September through mid-December. “We’ve got room for more members in the Fall CSA program for those who are interested,” Gamble said.
Stephanie Jordan, chef, farmer and garden manager of Whiskey Cake restaurant in OKC said, “Strolling Kam’s urban farm is inspiring. There is always a waiting list to get in on her CSA. If you saw her facebook posts, you would know why. It’s exciting to hear that she has openings for fall. People had better pounce on that while they can.”
A typical $25 Fall CSA bag might include summer squash, sweet peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, lettuce, arugula, spinach, beets/carrots/sweet turnips or sweet potatoes.
Items from other local growers such as free-range eggs, cantaloupe, sweet corn, and winter squash are sometimes included.
Kam’s Kookery is a catering company and another venture of chef Gamble. It helps subsidize CSA with its catering service in the Oklahoma City area.
Gamble said, “Our philosophy at Kam’s Kookery is twofold: to celebrate the joy of eating and living well and to support sustainable agriculture by purchasing from local growers. We do a lot of weddings and go to people’s houses for private cooking classes and dinner parties.”
Susie Shields Derichsweiler, founding member of Oklahoma Green Schools said, “Kamala has catered several events for me, including our big wedding party. Her efforts to both produce the food or source it from local producers are second to none in this area.”
Always the food enthusiast, Gamble is active in the Slow Food movement. Along with co-leaders Kerry Norman and Cristina McQuistion, she established Slow Food of Oklahoma City. Its objective is to inform the public that artisanal foods provide a sound basis for health and promote a more harmonious lifestyle.
Past events include annual Slow Food Fall Family Picnics featuring local chefs cooking and serving the best locally produced meats, poultry, game and vegetables; wine and cheese events; and celebrity lectures and book signings.
Slow Foods OKC typically holds 4-5 events a year. “Our signature event was at Harn Homestead. We did it 8 years in a row.” Gamble said. For more information visit,
Gamble’s newest mission is establishing gardens in schools.
“My great passion would be that we could put gardens in all schools,” Gamble said. “If anyone wants to talk to me about school gardens I would be happy to do it. I held a cooking class to raise money for it with all the proceeds going to a garden school program fund.”
“I think these kids need it,” Gamble added, “If they grow it, they’ll eat it.”
Gamble is looking for others who might want to put a garden in their school.
“You really have to get an administration on board and, of course people need to donate money.” Gamble said. “I’d be happy to talk to anyone who wants to be an active participant and try to make it happen.”
For more information about the Guilford Gardens CSA program or Kam’s Kookery, visit kamskookery.com or call 405-409-7312.