County Line Farm moves west
Adding another ball to the juggle, we’re now aspiring to be locavores. How far does your food travel and where do you draw the line? What does “local” mean to you? However committed you are to eating only what’s in season, whatever line you draw for where your food comes from, we believe that the most important piece of the puzzle is being conscious of the fact that the food we eat is an investment in the world we want to create.
It’s a lot to balance, but awareness is the first step toward enlightenment, and the farmers’ market is the perfect place to practice. So suit up, grab your canvas bags, and we’ll see you at practice this Sunday and Thursday from 8am-1pm. Evening workouts in Novato and Fairfax start in May.
David Retsky is a first generation farmer growing a diverse variety of organic salad greens and vegetables on 6 acres in Sonoma county since 2000, and 26 acres in Marin since 2007. For the full interview visit www.marinfarmersmarket.org.
Q: Does your family have any history in farming?
A: David: Promise you won’t hold it against me - I grew up in Beverly Hills. No one has a green thumb in my family. I am definitely a first generation farmer. When my family comes up to visit they’re like “OK, wow, this is different! . . .OK, let’s go.” It’s dirty up here on the farm, and I’m talkin’ real dirt, not tabloid dirt. You don’t see dirt like this in L.A.
Q: What attracted you to farming? How did you land at County Line?
A: David: I grew up not knowing where food came from, but I remember watching our gardener as a kid and being fascinated. In 1992, I started working on farms in England, Portugal, New Zealand, and Israel. I volunteered at the Fairview Gardens in Santa Barbara, and then studied Agroecology at UC Santa Cruz. I was searching for balance, for a connection to the earth, and I found it in farming. In ‘99, I put an ad in a few newspapers: “Organic farmer seeks 6-12 acres, must have water.” When the County Line property surfaced, my family loaned me the seed money. I bought a couple tractors and just gave it a go. I paid back the loan in three years. Eight years later, we’ve grown our production from 6 acres to 32 acres - 2007 was a doozy of a year. We’ve helped some other farmers get started, and we still can’t meet the huge demand for organic vegetables.
Q: Any thoughts on County Line and locavores?
A: David: It’s been interesting straddling the Marin-Sonoma border. There are definitely some eccentrics in the county, looking to eat only what grows in Marin. I say, to each his own. I open my door here for people to come visit, to see what I’m doing. If they want to look in my sheds, check out what I’m putting on my field, great. We’re growing the same quality of produce on our acreage in Sonoma as we are in Marin. At the end of the day, the boundaries of a food shed are up to the consumer. It’s a personal decision based on the relationships you have with the farmers who are growing your food.
Q: Farming has its fair share of challenges. What keeps you going?
A: David: Sometimes I look out at our rows when I’m nervous and I wonder,“who’s gonna buy all this food?” But there’s not a person that wakes up and says, “You know what, today I’m not gonna eat.” People eat every day. They may skip a meal. They may not eat vegetables all the time. But there’s only so much junk food you can eat, before you gravitate back to what’s good for you. - Amelia Spilger, Marin Farmers Market