This is the second in a series of posts on Happyday Farms, the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) located up here on Bell Springs Road, run by Casey, Amber, Lito and Courtney.
Shangri-La, if You Please
Happyday Farms represents the closest thing to Shangri-La that I can conceive of. There is no place on earth that I would rather make my home than on this twenty-acre parcel of land, located on a ridge in northernmost Mendocino County. With a generally mild climate, and more than a six-month, hot-weather crop [gaping] window of opportunity, the farm rocks.
There are three physical “regions” that comprise Happyday Farms: there is the original tract of sloping, southward-facing land that extends directly below Casey and Amber’s house, approximately the length and width of a football field; there is a portion of the farm directly north of the root cellar and wood-storage area, about one hundred by forty feet; and there is the West Forty, behind my house, roughly one hundred feet by one hundred feet.
Beginning with the original-and biggest-part of the farm, there are steps etched into the sloping hillside, that run more-or-less north-south; these are three or feet wide, sometimes wider, and run side-to-side on that football field, much the same way that the stripes marking the ten-yard lines would run.
A path exists, pretty much centered from top to bottom, bisecting the stepped rows. Steps for safe walking have been carved from the top to the bottom, and have beed reinforced with a slab of two-by-six wood in conjunction with two lengths of re-bar, driven into the ground to hold the slabs of wood in place. There is also a path that runs alongside the steps to allow for a wheel-barrow to be maneuvered down as one takes the steps. Mostly though, the barrows are maneuvered from side to side.
There is a tremendous amount of wheel-barrow use, because if they aren’t hauling rocks out of the compound for deposit on the north side of the driveway, they are hauling compost or straw into the complex. Casey used to buy compost from the local nursery and have ten yards trucked up to the farm. Then he got hooked up with the big boys and now deals with a company with a rig that brings forty yards at a time. That way when the neighbors need compost, they can come to the farm and save a trip to town.
I see this as the precursor to the stand that we have been talking about for a few years now, to be located up on Bell Springs Road. Of course, what we will sell in the stand is the produce that comes out of the farm, but the ultimate goal is to open up a multi-purposed mercantile, tailored for the ridge-top.
At first we will only be open maybe three days a week with set hours and then go from there. Personally, I would be more than happy to sit up there and peck away at my keyboard if it was slow, and I’m pretty good at retail if it was busy. In any case, Happyday Farms fills a niche up here in the north-county, and Casey is doing a superior job of filling a community need.
The second region of the farm is the North-forty and is the only flat part of the farm. There are two greenhouses in this area, and rows that are about sixty feet long. There are alternately either hooped rows for the frost-cloth to be pulled over, or posts with netting on them, as there is now, for climbing vines to reach for the sky. There are sweet peas thriving there now.
Behind my house is the most recent addition to the farm, and one that I find most rejuvenating. However, it will have to wait until after I take a nap, speaking of rejuvenating. Stick around. There’s more to Shangri-La that I haven’t gotten to yet.