Beyond Speculation Workshop & Farm Trails

Thank you to our farmers Aubrie Maze, Scott Kelley, and David and Kayta Plescia for hosting over 40 people for a tour of our spring farming operations on Sunday, April 28. In addition to the day out on the land, we also shared insights on emerging models for financing land stewardship projects.

We are very grateful to our speakers during our Beyond Speculation workshop that included Cassandra Ferrera of CommonSpace Community Land Trust, Cameron Rhudy of Sustainable Economies Law Center, Kendra Johnson a consultant with One Farm and CA FarmLink and our moderator, Temra Costa, of Green Valley Farm + Mill. The workshop presented information and ideas on models that are working to ensure that land can be stewarded by people living and working on the land. These included One Farm, East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative, CommonSpace Community Land Trust, Agrarian Commons, Northern California Community Land Trust, and more.

We’ll be sharing more here about our journey to ensure that Green Valley remains affordable for people living on and stewarding this land, so stay tuned!

A Farmer’s Thanksgiving Vol. II.



By David Plescia of Green Valley Community Farm, the onsite, market CSA, that is one of three farming enterprises at Green Valley.

The first hard frosts have been rolling through the farm this week, killing our husk cherries, frying peppers, amaranth flowers, many of our zinnias, and nipping some of our field greens (though they recovered). The first hard frost is a milestone event of the harvest year; the beginning of a new chapter; the first salvo of Old Man Winter; a cause for reflection; a time for thanks.

Kayta and I both grew up in the suburbs and like all Americans, we encountered those odd, ubiquitous expressions speckled throughout out our vernacular — “three shakes of a lamb's tail”, “like a horse whose seen the barn”, “make hay while the sun shines”, "coming home to roost", “getting hitched”, etc. It wasn’t until we started farming that we began to viscerally understand the roots of these sayings. (Hint: A lamb shakes its tail really fast when it's nursing.)

And it wasn’t until we started farming that we began to understand — like really understand — the significance of giving thanks in the Fall.

The Fall is an incredible time of year in the temperate world. It is a season of unimaginable bounty. The plants of forest and field have spent all Spring and Summer harnessing the sun’s energy into fruits and seeds and roots and leaves and we have harvested. In the Fall the root cellar is full, the larder is full, the granary is full; the land has burst forth at its seams and we gathered the overflow


The land burst forth at its seams...

The farmer, sitting at home with her feet up next to the fire, is keenly aware of the bounty in the root cellar below. She feels a giddy contentment in this — but no pride. She realizes how little she did to create it all. Sure, she worked hard all summer — moving things here and there — but it was others, present now and before, and life itself, that filled that cellar. It was others who laid the roof over her head and dug the cellar. Others who forged her tools and taught her how to use them. Others who saved the seeds and taught others, who taught others, who taught others, who taught her how to care for them. And what, or who, made those seeds sprout? Not she.

For all this, there is nothing to give but thanks.

We’d like to take a moment to give thanks those who made this year's harvest possible.

To our landmates and neighbors here at Green Valley Farm + Mill: Temra, Jeremy, Teo and Quin Fisher, Aubrie Maze, Scott Kelley, Jeff Mendelsohn, Josiah Raison Cain, Genevieve Abedon, Michael Crivello, Lindsay Dailey, Cliff Paulin and Atayas, and everyone at Weaving Earth: Your work, attention, perseverance, appreciation and support for the farm, harvest help, simple daily interactions are an invaluable web of support and meaning that sustain us day-by-day.

To our friends and families: Your unconditional love and support as we go AWOL to tend this farm toddler in the growing season means the world to us. Let's hang out again.

To our farming mentors and the farming community in Sonoma County (too numerous to name here); to Andy and Julia Henderson at Confluence Farm down the road; you make the long-days shorter in solidarity, camaraderie, and much practical wisdom.

To all the volunteers who showed up this year, you’re many hands made light work when we needed it the most.

To Ingrid the Egret: Your capacity to devour gophers is truly astonishing and incredibly expedient. Thank you for being such a good listener.

To Anna Dozor and Kate Beilharz. No words. OK, some words: At the beginning of the year Kayta and I were trepidatious about embarking into the new frontier of managing people on our own farm. You have spoiled us. We couldn't have asked for kinder, harder working, lovelier people to spend our days with. This season would not have been possible, or nearly as fun, without you. Thank you.

And finally, to you, our members. Whatever bounty we’ve enjoyed this year is because of you. Your trust and support paid for the seeds, the compost, the irrigation tape, the tomato trellising twine. You harvested our potatoes, our corn, our squash. You took a risk on a pair of young farmers and a farm and showed up every week with words of encouragement, cookies, kimchi, and cute little doodles to put on the chalk board. You pickled cucumbers for us when we couldn’t pickle them ourselves.

You reminded us day after day, week after week, that real, life-sustaining bounty comes from people working together... from a community.

Thank you!

Fall Equinox + Happy Farmers


By David Plescia of Green Valley Community Farm

At 6:54 PM Saturday evening of September 22, the Earth's midline lined straight up with the sun... and at that moment a loud collective "WAAHOO!" was heard from space coming from the Northern Hemisphere. That was us farmers. 

Old Bluey in the morning mist at the beginning of the last full day of summer.

Old Bluey in the morning mist at the beginning of the last full day of summer.

The coming of fall is a special time on a farm for so many reasons. In our Mediterranean climate, the coming of fall is like the breaking of winter and the coming of spring in a place like Maine. Rain is on the horizon and with it, the end of the high summer dormancy of many California flora. Fall also brings with it big field harvests -- the joy and satisfaction of reaping a season's worth of work in the form of food (onions, potatoes, corn, winter squash) that will sustain and nourish us throughout the winter. (The potato harvest is about 2 weeks away, we'll let you know!) fall also signifies farmer rest! The soft Fall light feels like balm on a sun-scorched skin. The long fall shadows play beautifully on the curing corn. The mornings are crisp. The nights are longer. While there are big pushes to be made bringing in these harvests and putting the fields to bed, R&R is near.

Change is afoot in the plant and animal worlds as well. This past week, a mysterious internal switch seems to have been flipped in our summer crops; Tomatoes, cucumbers, summer and winter squash all know what time it is (Equinox time!), and seem content to let themselves wind down and finish setting their final fruits. Take heed! One by one the sweet, tangy, cacophony of flavors and colors of the summer share will be replaced by the rich earthy tones of fall. In the animal kingdom, the baby Turkeys we first glimpsed as tiny fluff balls in June have matured into birds nearly indistinguishable from their parents -- with corresponding appetites. Indeed, Turkey, Deer, and Hare all have developed a voracious appetite for succulent farm fare lately as they forage for sustenance in this, the driest, hungriest season between late summer and the life and greenery giving first rains. We're lucky to have Ingrid the Egret and our Great Horned owl sentinel to keep the gophers in check. And keep your eyes open for Monarch butterflies, those Autumnal travelers, in the garden. They love zinnias!

We're so glad we'll get to share this fall, and the special magic the fall brings, with each of you this year.

See you in the fields, 

David and Kayta

Summer's Fresh Tilt - News From the Farm

By Farmer David Plescia of Green Valley Community Farm


One of the most special things about living and farming at Green Valley is that is a very wild place.

It's no wonder: If you zoom out on a satellite map of the address here (13024 Green Valley Rd.), you'll see that this little valley is nestled in the base of a forest that extends Northward, essentially unbroken, up through Alaska!

A field amongst the Firs.

A field amongst the Firs.

We come in contact with this wildness everyday out here. It is perhaps most noticeable in the bird and mammal kingdoms at this time of year, during the spring / early summer surge of activity, new growth, courtship, competition, homemaking and baby-raising that corresponds with the return of the sun and the all the surge of new life it supports. At this time of year especially, our furred and feathered neighbors weave themselves into our everyday lives, greeting us in the morning, keeping us company throughout the day, and accompanying us on our way home at night as they go about building their lives next to ours.

The bird world is especially rich out right now. Kayta's parents, avid birders, spotted 34 species during their two-week visit from Missouri at the beginning of June. (And that's just the tip of the iceberg.) All the feathered ones seem to be making a go of it while the gettins good and doing all the things that go with that: Courting (those Turkey gobbles of April and May, echoing down the valley) and singing (wow, hear that Swainson's thrush), fighting (the "bird wars" begin in late May as the sky fills with inner/interspecies arial battles and battle cries as they all squat, steal and harass each others nests and territories), eating (where did all our lettuce seeds go?), building homes (check out the Barn Swallow mud nest near our wash-station) and starting families...

In the owl box perched along the 13024 driveway, a barn owl family has taken up residence. Who knows when mom and dad moved in but about a month and a half ago tiny little raspy screeches could be heard coming from the box. Now, our way home at twilight every evening, we watch four barn owl teenagers exercise their flying permits. Compared to their silent, sleek, be-masked parents they are awkward flying monkeys. At first they would just pop their fuzzy heads out of the house, then pop back in. Lately, they have been taking flight, with a tellingly rapid RPM crash landing into the nearest tree, where they screech at each other for awhile, before flying back to the safety of the house. Where they screech some more. All. Night. Long...

Also like clockwork, at twilight, comes a Dark Sentinel. Our main fields are in her route. She has three spots -- that we know of: On a fence post overlooking the center meadow, on a large tree overlooking the main fields, and on the tall power pole overlooking the vineyards. A shadow. The Great Horned Owl. Like the Lady of the Forest, she gives us shivers, reminding us of our mortality. But she reminds gophers of their mortality too, which is quite necessary around here.

Yes, twilight is a special time. Quivers of quail come out from their thickets to forage (a little paranoid and a lot domestic). Mama and baby skunk visit the compost pile to see what's been left, and a gophers flit through the grass like lightning, mindful of the Dark Sentinel.

The gopher army (at its population low near the end of winter, being food for so many predators during that time) explodes at this time of year. Their subterranean networks of paths seem to multiply underfoot, their little portal holes pock the ground, and their boldness grows. One crashed against my leg as I was harvesting mustard mix on Tuesday. They may not visit the barn, but you can be sure that the gophers have been picking up their CSA shares.

And then there is Mama Deer. You may have noticed the fortress of junk in between our greenhouses and the hog panels around Aubrie and Scott's garden. These are protection from Mama Deer. Mama Deer took up residence in a thicket near the greenhouses about a month ago and, pregnant and now presumably nursing, uses a genius and boldness I have never seen in a deer to infiltrate our fortresses and feast on the fare. Who can blame her, she's making a go of it just like the rest of us.

This list could go on: The juvenile Salmonids and the baby turtles in the culvert, the broccoli-obsessed ninja Hare or the demon Racoon that visits our neighbors... no matter how much they annoy us or pillage our greenhouses, we can only but be grateful for their antics, their lessons, their company, and that they are here. This place is alive and wild. Let's make sure to keep it that way.

See you in the fields,

David & Kayta

Gomphrena on the farm ready for u-pick bouquets.

Gomphrena on the farm ready for u-pick bouquets.

Spring Forth!

By Farmer David Plescia of Green Valley Community Farm


Well, it’s official: The natural world has thrown off the covers and drank its morning cup of coffee!

With this week’s warm weather, the farmland is truly abuzz: A motley crew of native and honey bees and other pollinators jets and bumbles throughout the air, alighting on every flower (mustard, vetch, bell bean, tree, and wild flower) that can be found; willow catkin fluffs are floating everywhere on sweet, warm breezes; and the greenhouses, farmyard, and fields here at Green Valley Community Farm are abuzz with human activity, as we dust off, gear up, and sow the first seeds of Summer.

And we’re so happy to be penning to you, dear members, the first of many farm updates during the 2018 growing season!


Wash your totes and sharpen you flower cutting shears… this train is running on time!

It’s tricky — plant life and weather being what they are —trying to predict the exact date upon which our first plantings will fruit, flower, and fill out enough to cut the ribbon on CSA harvest pick-up. But we’ll always try! This year, everything is running on time for a first week of June start to harvest pick-up.

We have about 12 CSA memberships still open for the 2018 season. If you were a member last year, or have told us that you'll be joining this year, you have first priority! Please sign-up ASAP at to hold your spot.



We farmers take our cue from the bees. It’s time to get busy.

Over the last couple weeks, the greenhouses have gone from ghost town to precocious nursery, brimming full of life and expectation: As we speak, all of 2018’s tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and onions are present for role call, bouncing off the walls of their seed trays, ready to get out into the fields. We’ll transplant the hoophouse tomatoes next week. Out in Highgarden, 2018’s first rainbow carrots have been seeded. Next door to the left, the garlic is waking up. And next door to the right, the raspberries are poking their velvety auburn green leaves out of the straw mulch, whispering promises of sweet things to come.

As infrastructure and beautification projects get done whenever we can sneak them in, some big moves are about to occur in the main fields. In late October of 2017, we planted our most important crop... and this week we’ll harvest it.

Over the last five months our beautiful cover crop mixture of grasses and legumes grew into a stately, lush, woven blanket that protected our soil from the battering storms of winter and enriched the microbial life below. In early February, the cover crop was visited by the lovely Jersey cows of Bramble Tail Homestead, where some of it became milk and cheese and cow life!


This week, we’ll mow this cover crop down and it will continue its magical life-giving journey as its thousands of pounds of carbonaceous organic tissue will be digested into the soil… feeding, enriching, and building life there this season and for many seasons to come.

Thank you cover crop!

With all the birdsong, the evening light, and the warm breezes lately, we can’t wait for the promises of summer the harvest season. We can’t wait to see you all again in the garden, and to meet our new members. We can’t wait to introduce you to our amazing new farmer, Anna Dozor, who’ll be helping us this season! We can’t wait to share the fruits of the land with you. And we can’t wait to share many more stories and farm updates with you in the months ahead.

See you on the farm soon,

Kayta & David




Soil Fertility + Management Thoughts

By Farmer David Plescia of Green Valley Community Farm


"Grow healthy soil. The rest will follow." -Unknown

Going into this year, Kayta and I really didn't know what to expect from Green Valley's soil. How would the veggies look throughout the demanding growing season?

Not all soils are the same. Some require much more work out of a farmer than others. Very sandy soils, for example, require farmers to focus much more on the nutritional side of things, as nutrients leach out of sandy soils. Very clayey soils are more challenging to create and maintain healthy soil structure. The "Goldilocks" loams found in places like California's Central Valley and the Great Plains, built up by eons of carbonaceous plant activity, are described as "boy's soil" -- in that you don't have to do anything to get stuff to grow.

Going into this year, we had heard rumors of tougher growing conditions here from the previous farmers: Occasionally stunted plants, discoloration, etc. Our soil tests in the fall of 2016 indicated that with some standard amending (lime, for example, as Sonoma County soils are usually slightly acidic) the "clayey" sandy loam here had much of what happy fruits and veggies need. We could only do our best and see how the plants grew...


To establish a good baseline here, Kayta and I did some pretty textbook organic amending, based on our soil tests, to the fields and garden in the Spring. We added oyster shell lime and gypsum (to balance the PH and add calcium), sulphur of potash (because the soil was lacking in potassium), bonemeal (for phosphorus), feather meal (for nitrogen), and hefty amounts of compost to add organic matter; the glue of all soil biology and chemistry. If a bed was planted a second time this Summer, we added a small amount of feather meal and bone meal. 

We were thrilled to see that this relatively modest treatment, combined with the native soil composition and biology here, yielded very healthy plants... even some super phatty cauliflower and broccoli heads (a good litmus test of soil fertility.) There were ample earthworms and mycelium (fungal networks). Roots and crop residues broke down very quickly, indicating vigorous soil biology. 

All this is exciting. It means that each year, as the PH and nutrients are balanced, we can rely less-and-less on these outside inputs and more-and-more on closed loop, multi-functional systems like cover cropping, rotating livestock on fallow fields, compost made from farm waste, and the soil biology built from these practices. As we speak, the thick leguminous cover crop sinking its roots into the soil out there should, among other things, provide most or all of the nitrogen we need next year for phat cauliflower heads. The clayey nature of this soil means that nutrients and organic matter will be retained by the soil, those small particles hugging them tight. The soil should only continue to improve by years of thoughtful management and care. 

It's not "boy's soil" out there, but we're all lucky to have fertile little Green Valley.