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Posts tagged ‘Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce’

Agriculture Day for Leadership Santa Rosa Class 27

I’m involved in this great program called Leadership Santa Rosa run by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce. All chambers have leadership programs but we are going into our 28th year, which I understand is the longest running of it’s kind in the U.S. I was in Class 26 and am the incoming President for the Alumni Association. There are many theme days: government, business, green issues, health & human services, media & marketing, justice, education, hospitality & tourism (watch for a blog on that one), and the most popular is agriculture. I was on the committee to produce Class 27’s Agriculture Day on 5/19/11. See my blog from last year’s Ag Day.

We visited the Rancho Laguna Dairy and heard from Art Lafranchi about the dairy business. What is amazing about this day is that it starts so early in the morning yet we are halfway through their workday by the time we arrive at the dairy. Last year when I went through the program compared to today were very different experiences. Since earlier this year, I have been flitting between being a vegan and a vegetarian. Those cows looked a lot different, let me tell you.

Flickr Photo Album

Tierra Vegetables is this wonderful CSA farm in Santa Rosa. Community supported agriculture, or CSA, is basically a membership to a farm. You pay a monthly cost to get a set amount of veggies either delivered for you or available for pickup. Evie & Wayne James gave us a lovely tour and the thing I noticed the most, next to the beautiful vegetation, was the fact that Wayne walked his land barefoot. I was blown away at the thought that he knew how his land felt through his entire body. Sounds silly but it’s a grounding concept. If you know of anyone that is stealing their produce, they’d greatly like it to stop.

There is a secret in Sonoma County. The Gourmet Mushroom Farm is this enclave of amazing foodstuffs in the form of fungi. The GMF doesn’t open their doors for anyone really. That’s the beauty of LSR. We get to go places no one else could get close to. Bob Engel gives us a tour every year and the idea that mushrooms can grow on wood always blows people away.

Most of the people traveling on that day were by bus, I drove my car because I had to leave early. This day is even more special because of the bonding that occurs on the bus.

On to Shone Farm, the botanical educational laboratory for the JC agriculture, viticulture, and culinary courses. Leonard Diggs is a farmer through and through. The beauty here is striking. The students that get to learn about animals, farming, vineyard work, winemaking, the culinary arts, as well as having a location for large events within the horse arena in the Dutton Pavilion. Last year we were there during tomato season and got to taste some 🙂

We had a great panel of speakers to speak on Emerging Trends & Challenges of Agriculture. They were: Lex McCorvey, Sonoma County Farm Bureau; Dave Whitmer, Napa County Agriculture Commission & Interim Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner; Joe Pozzi, Pozzi Ranch Lamb; and Clark Wolf, Clark Wolf Company.

The day ended at DeLoach Vineyards with a panel on the Sonoma County Wine Industry with Brian Maloney of DeLoach Vineyards; Rhonda Smith of UC Cooperative Extension; and Nick Frey of Sonoma Winegrape Commission. There was a tasting but I’m sad to have missed that part of the day. The gardens, bees, vineyards, guesthouse, and pool were phenomenal.

Thanks to all the great hosts, speakers, and locations that are made available to this amazing program. We couldn’t do it without all of you!

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Buy Local Eat Local

I am part of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce Leadership Santa Rosa program and there is so much information I’ve learned already that I’m simply going to have to share.

Agriculture Day was last week and we visited La Tortilla Factory (sadly we won’t get a tour of that location until later), La Franchi Dairy, Gourmet Mushroom Farm, Gabriel Farm, Shone Farm (JC farm), and Kendall Jackson Winery. Airport Express shuttled us from location to location and we learned a lot but only got to scratch the surface.

Lex McCorvey is the Executive Director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and he opened up our day for us. Seriously, I could have listened to him all day. I am a farm bureau member simply for the savings it gets me on my health insurance. I honestly don’t think after my insurance went from one carrier to another that I even need the membership anymore but after listening to what a wonderfully necessary organization this is, I will keep it simply to support them. With a Masters in Ag from Cal Poly and a vocational agriculture JC teacher, he spoke with such a mastery of the subject matter, I would’ve listened as long as he kept talking.

Art LaFranchi, owner of Rancho Laguna Dairy Corporation, was kind enough to show us his dairy farm, LaFranchi Dairy, a Clover Stornetta dairy. I came in a little urbanized and left with a high level of appreciation for the skill and yes, humaneness, that these dairy workers have for the animals that give them so much.

Happy Baby Cow
Happy Baby Cow

The Gourmet Mushroom Inc. farm was fascinating. As Bob Engel said, “We grow food from sawdust!” They’ve been doing it on the DL since 1977 and they have it DOWN. From alba clamshells ™ to trumpet royale ™, forest nameko ™ to maiteake frondosa ™, I’d never put much thought into gourmet mushrooms but now I want to taste them all. I wish there was a way to get them prepared by a chef and taste them all in their appropriate culinary environments.

Mushroom Caps
Mushroom Caps

Gabriel Farm is a classic hometown farm. Local, friendly, and a beautiful daytrip. They grown 9 varieties of Asian pears, have jam, juice, and other yummies from their bounty. I look forward to going back to their farm to pick my own apples and blackberries in the future.

I got a Buy Fresh Buy Local book printed by CAFF-Community Alliance with Family Farms-that really goes into detail about farmers’ markets, food seasons, CSAs or Community Supported Agriculture, and restaurants that support local agriculture. Please visit www.caff.org and www.foodroutes.org for more information.

The Gabriel Farm "Art Man"
The Gabriel Farm “Art Man”

We had lunch at the beautiful Shone Farm where we got a tour of the facility in addition to learning about challenges in agriculture, namely water and exotic pests. I was thoroughly impressed with the sheer variety of agricultural lessons contained at that farm via the Santa Rosa JC. Vineyard growth, winemaking, equine, livestock, crops, greenhouses, culinary, it goes on an on.

Shone Farm Garden
Shone Farm Garden

Last but not least, we visited Kendall Jackson and learned from a variety of people in the wine business the challenges and issues they face. We tasted several vintages and it ended the day nicely.

As you can see, there was so much I learned, I simply had to share!

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