Community Philosphy Blog and Library

Posts Tagged ‘Petaluma’

HOMEGROWN Road Trip Part 2: Green String Farm

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

On the road out of Petaluma, amidst tasting rooms and grape vines of Sonoma County, is Green String Farm. As you pull in, you’ll see nothing fancy, a rustic farm stand with a bunch of talkative chickens in the coop out back, but their philosophy is dazzling:

Green String is a 140 acre farm, with 50-60 acres in cultivation, in Petaluma, CA. The farm produces vegetables and fruits for a number of restaurants in the Bay Area, and maintains a farm store year-round. While the farm is not certified organic, we hold ourselves to sustainability standards that we believe well exceed organic standards.

Green String is the act of farming sustainably and naturally so that we provide a healthy future for generations to enjoy. Sustainability in the farming context is defined as healthy, local, socially responsible, simple living and control. We make every effort to reduce soil erosion, pesticide dependency, loss of biodiversity, resistance to natural predators, and other harmful ecological impact. We create a self-nourishing system where less human intervention yields better quality crops.

The Green String Institute is a “beyond organic” advocacy organization founded in 2000 by Fred Cline and Bob Cannard. They also provide a certification to participating farmers called “Green String Certified”.

The Institute, and the idea of green string farming, was born when Cline and Cannard noticed that the concept of organic agriculture, as it rose in popularity, became bleached of its meaning. To Cannard, one of the instigators of the organic movement in California, the term organic meant that produce should be locally grown, with respect for the environment and the planet. It meant that food should not travel across countries or continents from farm to table. It meant the use of compost and cover cropping and crop rotation and other practices that enrich the soil so that the fields become richer and more fertile year after year. Now, however, with the advent of USDA Organic certification, organic production is beyond the means of many small farmers who do not have the means or cannot afford the time and trouble required to obtain certification. Moreover, once obtained, the certification means very little.

It’s so good to see boundaries being pushed and definitions being questioned – keeps us all honest and on our toes! There is so much to learn from these careful, thoughtful farmers, and with statements like “Green String farms do not recognize adversity with nature”, how can you go wrong?

Next up: Organic, super-premium ice cream in Humbolt County.


HOMEGROWN Road Trip – Part 1. Petaluma Heirloom Seed Bank.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
The product of the Hands-on Sauerkraut workshop in The HOMEGROWN Village at Maker Faire Bay Area

The product of the "Hands-on Sauerkraut" workshop in The HOMEGROWN Village at Maker Faire Bay Area

Well, we took off after Maker Faire Bay Area 2011 with full minds and bellies and headed for reaches north. San Francisco itself offers so many incredible things, some of which were represented in The HOMEGROWN Village. Ritual Coffee Roasters are a super friendly group of coffee freaks who we hope will continue to expand their caffeinated reach. We so enjoyed the final presentation of the day from K. Ruby Blume. She reminded us that her tight-knit Oakland community of urban homesteaders is what makes the struggles with quirky weather and bureaucrats worth it.

One place that we didn’t get to visit, but that I wanted to mention here is Oakland’s People’s Grocery Health and Nutrition Demonstrators Program. It’s staggering how little cooking and once-called “home economics” skills are taught these days, and these folks are helping turn that around. Do you know of a program like this that teaches nutrition and cooking in your area schools and institutions? I’d love to hear about it!

After fueling up on the heavenly triple cream MT TAM cheese from Cowgirl Creamery – smeared on a sourdough bread that can only be found in these parts, our first stop was The Petaluma Heirloom Seed Bank in Petaluma. Whoa…seeds. More seeds than you can imagine. They’re planning a giant Heirloom Seed Exposition in September 2011, so stay tuned for more information on that. Baker Creek Heirloom Seed company took over this old bank building (har!) and designed it as a retail store / resource center / all-round shrine to growing.

There were whole rows of heirloom tomato varieties!

The folks that run the place were so hospitable and kind. They loaded up our already hefty seed haul with some other varieties to try: Purple plum radish, Mongogo Du Guatemala squash, Early White Vienna Kohrabi…amazing.

We’d like to share the love, so leave a comment about your favorite heirloom seeds and one of you will receive a goodie package in a few weeks. Some more photos here and on Flickr:

Next up: The northern California coast.