9/15/17 - Week 14 - Green Valley History

What is the deal with this crazy compound I visit every week to pick up my veggies? If these old corrugated steel walls could talk, what would they say? This week, I wanted to share a rough outline of the recent history of this beautiful quirky place this farm calls home to give you a little context for what you're looking at next time you're here.

(The following is a personal rendition, which I've gathered as snippets from friends and neighbors, with a big assist from the Green Valley Farm + Mill website. Any inaccuracies are my own.)


Before Europeans arrived in Sonoma County, this land was Southern Pomo territory, and before that, Miwok. While there is no evidence of a large permanent village here (as in the Russian River Valley) this land was visited. There are a good amount of obsidian shards and arrowheads to be found after rains, suggesting the site was used as a hunting spot and/or for trading and/or ceremony. One can imagine the meadows rich in bird and animal life -- they still are -- with Tan and Black Oaks (favorite acorns of Native Californians) dotting hillside and wood.

In the 1890's, the land was settled by Caroline and Lewis Giovannini. The Giovannini family lived on and worked the land for 100 years; homesteading, ranching, logging, and operating a large saw mill that, at it's peak, employed 100 people.

The hardpack gravel yard and all of the buildings around and including our barn were part of the Mill operation. There was the Office (where the bathroom is), the Shop (West of our barn) and the actual saw mill building across Green Valley Rd. Our barn housed the planers, so we are told, which you can see evidenced by the 3 phase power drop, the sawdust extraction holes in the siding, and the crazy concrete work bench foundations which, presumably, were the foundations of the planers themselves. A neighbor down Green Valley Road, Bob Maddocks, who worked for the Mill in his youth, describes the whole yard stacked with lumber and tells of his adventures working in the Mill; dodging flying saw teeth and skidding logs up and down the hills surrounding. In the 1960's the 2 acre irrigation pond was developed and, at some point, most of the meadows were planted into grapes. Many members of the Giovannini family still live in Sonoma County today.


In1996, the property was sold to the Windhams, and in 2006 the 172 acre parcel we are on now was sold to Michael Paine. Under Mr. Paine's ownership the site became home to Green Valley Village, an intentional community of land tenders, builders and crafters. Bramble Tail Homestead got their start during this era, fruit trees were planted around the Mill site, the garden was terraced and planted, there was a Free Store, the parties were legendary, and, for 8 years, the land was home to Green Valley CSA, a CSA fruit and veggie farm similar to ours.

Kayta and I first knew of this place as the home of our friends Aubrie and Scott (Bramble Tail Homestead) and the source of our amazing weekly milk. In July of 2016, Aubrie and Scott, along with Jeff Mendelsohn, Josiah Raison Cain, Jeremy Fisher and Temra Costa banded together to purchase the property with the shared vision of reconnecting people to land through agroecological land stewardship and innovation (holistic grazing, sustainable farming and sustainable forestry) and educational programs and events. Enter Green Valley Farm + Mill.

The amount this group has accomplished towards this mission in this first year is remarkable; Renovating the Victorian Farmhouse and numerous other buildings, hosting events, and shepherding values aligned tenants (like us!) and our neighbors Weaving Earth into operation here.

And so a new era begins: The meadows and forests look on as we write another chapter in the Green Valley storybook. 

Thank you for being a part of it.


THIS WEEKS HARVEST: Bodega Red Potatoes, Cured Cipollini and Yellow Onions, Heirloom and New Girl Tomatoes, Krimzon Lee Hot Peppers, Sweet Peppers, Summer Squash, Easter Egg Radishes, Lemon Cucumbers, Italian Eggplant (last week!), Bishop White and Vita Verde (Green) Cauliflower, Murdoch Cabbage, Red Ace Beets, Rainbow Carrots, Red Russian Kale, Dino Kale, Arugula, Speckled Summercrisp Head Lettuce, Rouxai Head Lettuce, Fall Braising Mix with Baby Kale and Ethiopian Mustard Greens, and Chicories

U-PICK in the GARDEN: Pesto Basil, Dragon Tongue Romano Beans, Frying Peppers, Padrones, Jalapeños, Husk Cherries, Strawberry snacks, all herbs and flowers. No limit on Dahlias. 

U-PICK on the FARM: 

  • Cherry tomatoes: Sungolds, Black Cherry, and Super Sweet 100's in three Rows marked with the blue flags in the main fields.
  • Canning Tomato Gleaning: If you're interested gleaning some canning tomatoes straight from the vines to make sauce, please talk to Kayta or I and we'll show you the spot


  • Pesto: We have a ton of Genovese Italian Basil in the garden. The second succession (in the Eastern half of the garden by the new flower beds) is flowering and needs to be turned into pesto. If you haven't made pesto this summer yet, or if you'd like to make a second batch, you are welcome to harvest entire plants into a large bag. We'll mark the location of this flowering bed with a colored flag and note in on the chalkboard so you can find it.
  • Cabbages: Cabbages will be no-limit and they do not have to fit in your bag... you may take as many as you'll use to make a preserve! Check out Week 10's newsletter for our favorite simple kraut recipe.


In our barn: 

-Hawk Hill Homemade Sourdough Bread: Gaby is off this week. Frozen loaves are available the white freezer in our barn. $8/loaf, self-serve cash box.

In the creamery:

  • Eggs: The hens at Hands Full Farm have resumed laying and you can find eggs for sale again in the creamery (silver) fridge on your right as you enter.
  • Dairy: to pick-up milk and cheese raised and crafted right here on the land, join the Bramble Tail Herdshare program. For details, email Aubrie at brambletailhomestead@gmail.com
  • Beef: The creamery freezer is now stocked with ground and stew beef from steers raised on the pastures surrounding the farm.
  • Whole Chickens: Raised by Parade the Land just down the road in Graton, also in the creamery freezer.
  • Firefly Chocolates
  • Herbal Remedies by Aubrie

The 2017 Harvest Pick-up Schedule:

Saturdays from 8am - 1pm
Tuesdays from 1pm - 6pm

June 17th - December 12th

Farm, u-pick & garden: Open 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset!