There’s local and then there’s local. We opt for the emphatic latter, purveying the excellence of farmers who labor within a 10-mile radius of our Healdsburg store. They deserve a huzzah, don’t you think?
Bernier Farms: Known for the variety and excellence of their garlic, Bernier Farms is a family operation composed of Yael, Paul, and their son Zureal, who now has his own growing family. Paul came up to work the old prune orchards that used to be northern Sonoma County’s premier crop, stayed through the wine-grape transition most fields experienced, and began sharecropping on his own. Today, the family works several different plots in Alexander and Dry Creek valleys. The Bernier’s like to say that they grow everything from A-Z, apples to zucchini, and we are glad to have their produce in our cafe dishes and in our produce area throughout the year.
Foggy River Farm: Lynda and Emmett Hopkins grow right alongside the Russian River, which exposes them to the vagaries of flood and gives them the rich alluvial soil from which they coax what they call a “full diet” slate of food, meat to nuts, grains to fruit, vegetables to oil. Emmett grew up on the property and, together with wife Lynda — an accomplished writer, as well as a mother and farmer — they run a successful CSA program and even specialize in dwarf Nigerian goats, which are prized by cheese-makers for the richness of their milk.
Front Porch Farm: Set alongside the Russian River, Front Porch is a farm often in the local news for the excellence of its produce as well as for its commitment to raising the heritage Italian breed of pigs, the Cinta Sinese. Like Preston, Front Porch has a grain program that provides sustainability in an era of large corporate control of such essential foods, and we’re glad to mill and purvey this local staple.
HomeFarm: Set on 16 acres in the Dry Creek Valley, HomeFarm is the vision and passion of SHED co-owners Doug Lipton and Cindy Daniel. Interplanted, roaming, and intended to create a holistic sanctuary in which the kitchen garden weaves into a bee meadow which leads to an olive grove and so on, HomeFarm boasts a library of heirloom fruit trees, has small blocks of muscat wine grapes, has a lively flower patch wild with dahlias in the summer, and offers edible and visual surprises at each turn. A large amount of the good food that flows into SHED each day is produced here under Doug’s guidance.
MIX Garden: Nominally a landscape supply store, MIX is that and so much more. A great pun on owner Mick Kopetsky’s name, MIX has something for everyone. Home to the Russian River Flower School, an outlet for heirloom Italian seed varieties, a nursery, a spot to get rock and gravel, and — perhaps most importantly to us — a farm, MIX exemplifies a diversity of efforts and commitment to excellence that fits with our mission. We grow their starts in the planter boxes outside our store, offering their burgeoning plants for sale each season. Most importantly, we cook with and purvey their produce with pride.
Preston of Dry Creek: Lou Preston wouldn’t necessarily agree, but we think of him as the Grand Druid of Sonoma County farming, a master who has weathered the transitions that modern farming demands while making his own wine and bread and turning the land he and wife Susan work into a showplace for organic — and now, Biodynamic — growing. Preston olive oil is revered by area chefs, the estate wine loved by most of us over age 21, and the grains that Lou and Susan raise find their way to our in-house mill and Lou’s excellent breads. Walnuts, apples, peaches, plums, and garden produce inform their 40-plus years of operation, but the real vehicle for these farmers has been change. Conventional grape growers to start, Preston of Dry Creek is currently seeking Biodynamic certification from Demeter USA, and is a model for interplanting, land conservation, biodiversity, and healthy riparian habitat.
Russian River Organics Farm: Potatoes, melon, squash, strawberries — anything that grows well in our area grows well at Russian River Organics. One of our newest farm-partners, we’re excited to be working with Dave Pew again, farming in this new spot!
Six Oaks Farm: Located just up the road in Geyserville, Six Oaks is planted on former vineyard land and dedicated to restoring land once used for monocultural grape-growing to a certified organic paradise with a wide variety of foods ready for harvest. Melons, greens, peppers, tomatoes, beans, onions, and other staples now grow in profusion under careful farming practices that are as dedicated to the health of the land itself as they are to the people who work it.