Editor's Column September 2009
“Steve, you're the one who started all this!” - Doug Dolcini, rancher, Hicks Valley.
Not true, Doug. We all started it. Doug Dolcini and I had a conversation about seven years ago, when I was hanging out with him at the Hicks Valley Dolcini home ranch. We were leaning on the fence looking east at some rich bottom land just below his large reservoir. “You think anyone might want to farm this piece of ground?,” he asked me with a slight drawl. I said, “Yeah Doug, this is a nice set-up for a vegetable operation, with the water and all,” while thinking how great it would be if I had the time and tractor to farm this amazing patch of ground. Well, seven years later David Retsky and his crew have about 30 acres under cultivation, producing some of the finest vegetables and berries in the county. Kitty Dolcini has been growing strawberries and just opened a farm stand at the corner of Petaluma-Pt. Reyes Road and Hicks Valley Road, and is doing well. This is all part of the ongoing change in Marin County agriculture. Julie Evans Rossotti and her new husband, Tony Rossotti, are also part of the change, with their new ranch populated by Boer goats and honeybees straddling the Marin and Sonoma county line. Both these young folks come from long-standing Marin farm families and are fulfilling family traditions by producing premium, healthy food. Thus the passing of the generational torch is still alive.
In all segments of our agricultural family, good work is growing. Marin Farmers Markets continues to expand its services to all of our population by making food stamps available to those who need them at the farmers market. What a fine use of the stamp program, increasing access to fresh and local produce.
Marin Organic’s Gleaning for Schools Program is maturing into a real workhorse, getting lots of fresh organic produce into the schools and campuses of Marin. Often, volunteers walk away full of experience and enthusiasm after participating in the program. Rob Fowler, a recent volunteer, said, “I can’t believe how much I learned about farming. Helping get this food into Marin schools was a real honor.”
Lastly, the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s new, strict requirements for water quality have put most of our ranchers at a loss as to how to comply. UCCE Farm Advisors David Lewis and Stephanie Larson have been working with seven partnering organizations to help ranchers find ways to comply and ease the pressure everyone is feeling.
This issue combines news and observations from all branches of our agricultural tree. It is truly amazing how much we are accomplishing by working together in this place called Marin. - Steve Quirt, Editor