Fall is upon us, as we can see in the changing of vine and leaf colors all around the area, and of course, in the changeable weather.
Spectacular trees on Fitch Street and on First Street glow in their autumn glory. As do the vineyards throughout the valleys around Healdsburg.
It’s the time of year many gardeners exchange hoe for rake and the hard work begins, again. Not only do gardeners and ranchers do a lot of clean up, they move into a quieter, slower growing time, reassess thoughts and create dreams of what's yet to be.
Garlic growers and farmers with winter vegetables have gotten most of their crops in the ground, and even they look forward to a slowing of passing time.
“First, I’m raking a million leaves,” said Roxann MacLeod an avid gardener. “The gorgeous trees that are a haven for birds and offer shade in the summer are a real pain, now."
All her leaves will be composted.
“And, of course, I’m trimming and cleaning and doing general yard maintenance,” MacLeod continued. “Later in the winter, it’ll be time to think of hard pruning the trees and roses.
“And it’s a time for planning for the future,” she said dreamily. "A time of seed catalogues and plans."
For local farmer, Yael Bernier of Bernier Farms, the fall means that she’s gotten almost all the garlic in.
“I’ve planted hundreds of pounds of garlic.” She laughed. “It means a little bit of a slowing down.
“You have to have all you want [the family’s food] to carry you through the winter,” she went on.
Bernier stopped selling potatoes at the market about a month ago, near the end of the Tuesday night Farmers’ Market. When I asked for them, she said they were keeping stores for the family.
“We’re cleaning up and putting things away,” Bernier continued. “Then in February we start up in the greenhouses.”
“In March, we’ll be completely busy again with asparagus and snap peas.”
Bernier Farms sells their produce year ‘round at the original Santa Rosa Farmers’ Market. They also have a small stand in Alexander Valley, though they are unsure on whether it will be open all winter. Check their website for further information.
For the owners of Oh, Tommy boy’s Organic Farms and First Light Farm Certified Organic whose current market focus is dry-farmed potatoes the focus is the same.
“Fall, for us, is about winding down and reflecting on next year,” said Nathan Boone. “You look at what happened and you’re thinking ‘I want to do this.’”
First Light Farm is out of Sebastopol and they dry farm 50,000 pounds of potatoes in a rich variety among many other vegetables.