17_12_12_Hobo_Fire_Wine-175

A Winemaker’s Thoughts on the Fire : A Bond Stronger than Business

From Lowell : Each year our photographer Dawn and I head out to visit a vineyard during harvest. In October 2017 we visited a merlot vineyard that Kenny and Lynn from Hobo Wine Company work with in the Sonoma Valley. The vineyard, and home of Ian Morrison and his wife, is nuzzled into the hillside on the narrow road heading up to Sugar Loaf State Park. It was a beautiful and crisp morning on the 3rd of October, and was an especially fun trip for me because the vineyard happened to be owned by my former high school art teacher at Summerfield Waldorf. Little did we know, less that a week later, the devastating fires of Northern California would lap up to the vineyards edge. After the fires hit, Dawn and I felt like we needed to head back a few months later, to understand what had become of the neighborhood. Over a dozen houses on this small street had been burnt to the ground, some no more than 100 yards from the vineyard and home of …

17_11_02_FullBloomFlowers-94-2

Cut Flower Seed Saving with Full Bloom Flower Farm

In late Fall, armed with a basket of paper lunch bags, a sharpie, and sharp pruners, I head into the field for one of my favorite harvests of the season. I clip fully developed seed heads of various shapes and varieties into carefully labeled bags. Unlike a cut flower harvest, seed head harvesting gathers thousands upon thousands of future potential plants. The thoughtful activity feels sacred, wise, ancestral, and magical all at once. And it always seems like the birds and my socks are in on the seed collecting too. I am selecting and collecting regionally adapted blooms and following in a tradition of gardeners and earth stewards before me. With the average flower seed packet ranging from three to fifteen dollars, seed saving can also make a poor farmer feel rich. On my small, but intensively planted one acre, I spend around one thousand dollars on new seed each season. While corms, tubers, and starts cost more than the seeds each year, the vast majority of plants on my farm come from seeds which …

17_09_26_FullBloomFlowers-752 copy

Fall at Full Bloom Flower Farm

What an inspiring shoot we had! The blooms were insane, and we fully felt the abundance of the harvest. Bushels and bushels of dahlias, celosia, amaranth, rudbeckia, rose hips, mums, helianthus, figs from Hedda’s tree, and special feels for old sunflowers dying in the field. I can’t wait till we share the entire story with you, Full Bloom Flower Farm Through the Seasons.      

17_07_24_hops-115

Warm Spring Wind Hop Farm

I always like to joke about hop farming being my “day job” because I work the night shift as a registered nurse in San Francisco. My experience with growing hops all started with home brewing. My mentor was both a flight nurse and a professional brewer and gave me the necessary equipment to make beer at home. After a couple of batches I began to become more interested in the ingredients and where they came from, than the final product. Just after finishing nursing school, I spent a spring day volunteering at a hop yard in Dry Creek Valley. I saw the opportunity to get back in touch with my west county agrarian roots, and the idea was born to build a hop yard on my wife’s family property in West Sebastopol. Warm Spring Wind sits on a gently sloping, south-west facing hillside in West Sonoma County,  and provides premium ingredients for beer and cider making. We believe that the source, quality, and methods involved in the growing of ingredients provide the foundation of flavor for …

17_07_31_Hedda_Flowers-1010

Summer Harvest at Full Bloom Flower Farm

A couple months back, in the full swing of summertime harvest, Dawn and I headed out to meet local flower farmer Hedda at her farm, Full Bloom Flower Farm, in Graton. The fields were lush and overflowing, full of colorful zinnias, lisanthus, marigolds, sunflowers, rudbeckia, ammi, and scabiosas. The fields were so full of color and growth, they spread happiness every way you turned.   Sunflowers reach for the sky in this gorgeous and lush summertime flower field.

17_07_02_FullBloomFlower_SummerSpring-1016 copy

Late Spring at Full Bloom Flower Farm

Late spring harvest at Full Bloom Flower Farm was full of color. Nicotiana, Ammi, Chantilly Snaps, Chinese Forget Me Nots, Nigella, Scabiosa, and many more. The Zinnias were just starting to come up and show their colorful faces. The star of the show was without a doubt Hedda’s David Austin Roses, with their full petals and gorgeous shades of pink and orange. You can tell that the farm was ready to burst into lush summer at any moment.   Crates full of Dahlias are ready for summer, and the farm is so much fuller than when we were here last.      

17_04_28_HOboPingPong-234

The Age of Me: A Story About Giving… and Ping Pong

The Age of Me Last Fall, I heard Yvon Chouinard on the radio talking about the new edition of his business biography, Let my People go Surfing. In the interview, he spoke about the current state of affairs and the role that businesses can and should play when government isn’t stepping up. Everything he said made immediate sense to me and I bought the book the next day. I tore through it in a matter of a few days feeling inspired and on a mission about what it means to be a business owner. I am thankful to love wine and winemaking, and the fact that I get to call it a job, but why not grow my business in more directions? Why not actively seek out ways to contribute more to individual, community, and environmental health and well being? If our goal is to improve everything, and it should be, then we always need to be innovating, improving, and looking for ways to lower our impact on the planet. We need to make the …

17_03_16_HandlineTrout_FullBloomFlowers-987 (1)

Late Winter Harvest at Full Bloom Flower Farm

I’m so excited to bring you the first installment of our “Flowers Through the Seasons” story, in collaboration with Hedda Brorstrom, owner and farmer at Full Bloom Flower Farm. A couple months ago our photographer Dawn and I headed out to Hedda’s flower farm, located just outside the town of Graton. We captured one of the last winter varietal harvests, and got a sneak peak at trays and trays of starts getting ready for the next season. While we were there, Hedda harvested anemones, ranunculas, helebores, bleeding hearts, and calla lilies. We can’t wait for the next season.   Watch this field as it changes through the seasons! If all goes as planned, those rows and rows of crates are going to be hundreds of dahlias, safe from the clutches of gophers.    

17_03_10_Badger_Ranch-1457

A Lucky Day at Badger Ranch

The life of a farmer tends to get idealized. People view them as the lucky ones who where able to create a job out of puttering around in the garden and petting baby animals all day. I think most of our readers understand this is not the truth. Farming is a lifestyle that requires an immense amount of time and dedication. All of that being said, farmers do what they do because they love it, and sometimes you get to head out to a farm on a gorgeous Sonoma County day and pet baby goats, and hang out with good friends, and, on that day, it really is that perfect. Like on the day a few weeks ago when Dawn, our photographer, and I headed out to Sarah and Tyja Taube’s farm, Badger Ranch. Badger Ranch was created 6 years ago when Sarah’s family purchased the old Bassignani Nursery and reopened it as Grow Gardens Nursery. Sarah and Tyja were able to take a portion of the property; about 5 acres of land out of …

16_11_04_wildmushroomhunt-167 (3)

Mushroom Harvest in Northern California

As a photographer, I get to spend many of my days documenting things that are new and captivating to me. It’s a big bonus to an already awesome job. Mushroom hunting has always seemed interesting to me, and when the time came to choose a new subject for the walls of Peter Lowell’s I knew exactly what I wanted to feature. Luckily for me, it was mushroom season. Dylan and Tyja Taube, two Sebastopol locals who grew up mushroom hunting with their father up in Mendocino, were kind enough to let me tag along. I joined the brothers on 3 different hunts, spread out over a couple months. Mushrooms flush at different times of the year, so this way we were able to capture a variety of local mushrooms as they bloomed. Our first hunt was for porcinis. I meet up with the boys and we set out before dawn. The crisp morning air and wet forest sets the perfect scene. The forest is quiet and still but the guys, with their experienced eyes, move …