Summer's Greetings

Here's a guest post by one of our farmers, David Plescia, from over at Green Valley Community Farm. He and Kayta have done an incredible job getting the farm off the ground just this past winter and have already started pick-up days for their CSA members. Read below and delight in learning more about the wildness of this place through the lens of a farmer's eyes. 

FARMER'S LOG

One of the most special things about living and farming at Green Valley is that it still 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 at the base of forest that extends Northward, essentially unbroken, up through Alaska.

We come in contact with this wildness everyday on the farm. And 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 surge of plant life. At this time of year especially, our furred and feathered neighbors weave themselves into our lives, greeting us in the morning, and keeping us company throughout the day and on our ways home at night as they go about building their lives next to ours. And it is striking how similar theirs are 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 gettin's 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 (the Violet-Green Swallow mud nest above our wash-station) and starting families...

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Family of Barn Owls Move In

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, screeching at each other for awhile, and then flying back to the safety of the house. They screech all night.

Also like clockwork, at twilight, comes a Dark Sentinel. Our main fields are on 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 entire vineyard and farm. 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 very necessary around here.

Yes, twilight is a special time. Quivers of quail come out from their thicket homes, paranoid and domestic, to forage. Mama and baby skunk visit the compost pile to see what's been left, and a gophers flit through the grass. 

The gopher (at its population low near the end of winter, being food for so many predators during that time) explodes in population 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 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 turtle in the culvert, Aubrie and Scott's carefully timed new calves, the broccoli-obsessed ninja Hare or the demon Raccoon that visits our neighbors... no matter how much they demand from us or pillage our provisions, 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.

Farmer, David Plescia

Digging In

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Wine | Coho | CSA Sign Ups

Greetings,

As we are digging in here on the land, we are so grateful for the opportunity to share our experience with you. Below are a few updates about what's been happening since we've started to call this gorgeous place home. 

1. Meet our Vineyard Manager: We're excited to partner with Emilio Castelli of Castelli Vineyards as the manager of our small-scale, dry-farmed vineyard. The vineyard had not been pruned for two years so we've been spending time getting it back into shape (see Temra in fast mode pruning below). While there is a bit of Pinot, Nebbiolo makes up the majority of our vines. And while it's not common in these parts, this makes us love it even more. We've always been fans of the underdog.

Back to Castelli, he matches our love of terroir and desire to be a benevolent steward of this land. He and his wife, Laura Bastitch, also live on Green Valley Road where they live, built their straw bale winery and manage their own small vineyard of Nebbiolo grapes. You can read more about them on their website.

2. Bringing Salmon back to Upper Green Valley Creek: As one of the few remaining native spawning habitats for coho salmon in the Russian River Valley watershed, Green Valley Creek provides an important habitat for these critically endangered fish and other species. As stewards of this land, we couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with our neighbors and Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District on a major construction project that will ensure that coho can get back into the creek’s upper reaches.

Starting this fall, Gold Ridge will be doing a major overhaul of a culvert to the south of Green Valley Farm + Mill that borders two of our neighbors’ properties. They will also create a series of pools for spawning and refuge for the juveniles. This project represents one of Gold Ridge’s most significant fish passage projects to date. Stay tuned as we'll be hosting an informational meeting about this exciting work in July that will be open for the public to attend. 

3. Got milk? What about meat? Veggies? We’ve got you. 
Thinking you want to get more connected with where your food comes from? We invite you to eat real local by joining either, or both, of our food share programs. Email us at hello@gvfam.com to learn more about getting weekly access to all that our land offers including milk, meat, vegetables and seasonal fruits. While our fields are still wet, our fruit and veggie program will get going by late June. Our other foodshare program has ongoing sign up and pick up opportunities. 

HELLO, MY NAME IS GREEN VALLEY FARM + MILL

Want to learn more about what's happening? You've come to the right place. 

In July of 2016 a group of people came together to purchase 172 beautiful acres known as Green Valley Farm + Mill, or simply, Green Valley. Since moving here the onsite team has managed to crush our first vineyard crop, re-establish our Jersey cows on the land, get our vegetable farm going and give our infrastructure some much needed TLC. 

Now that we're getting settled, it's time to share our journey with you. We are the new wave of ruralists, people that want pastoral living but that also desire to live in close proximity to other people. For social and functional reasons, land in any sort of large dimension requires people for management and upkeep. From fire reduction strategies, to creek restoration and native plant growth, humans are a central part of the equation for a healthier landscape here. You'll learn more about all this and more here. If you want info sent straight to your inbox, mosey over to the homepage and subscribe at the bottom to get our Farm + Mill News.