I recently enjoyed a couple of hours exploring Sonoma Broadway Farms with farmer, Jerome Cunnie. Jerome is part of the Sonoma Broadway Farms food partnership and one of his many passions is growing nutrient-rich microgreens. Stay tuned for our next post featuring Jerome’s path to farming and his excitement about the potential of microgreens to enhance our foods and our health.
Jerome started my tour by informing me that “there’s nothing like this between Sonoma and San Francisco.” Even a seasoned farmer like Jerome seems both awed by- and deeply appreciative of- the unique model and management goals at Sonoma Broadway Farms.
Preston Raisin, the owner of Sonoma Broadway Farms, purchased the property in 2012 in a tribute to his childhood memories of eating organic food and visiting farms in Bolinas, West Marin, and Petaluma. Experiencing farm life gave him an awareness at an early age of the health benefits of eating real food. Preston’s mother was way ahead of her time by keeping a compost heap in their yard and grinding peanuts into nut butter when the rest of the kids in the neighborhood likely thought peanut butter only came in a jar. In an era that embraced canned vegetables, space food sticks, and TV dinners, Preston’s mom was an outlier.
Decades later, Preston created a one-of-a-kind gathering space that strives to make the simplicity and the serenity of farm life available to all. Family gatherings and reunions, corporate retreats, and team-building excursions are all opportunities for visitors to enjoy a day or a weekend immersed in a true farm experience. Raisin refers to these visits as “farm stays” where people who already know each other can expand and enrich their relationships by spending time together in an urban homesteading model.
Jerome mentioned during my tour that a Silicon Valley tech company had recently had a day retreat at the farm. He was very aware that once employees “come out of their cubicles” and start to embrace a day outdoors at the farm, there is a noticeable change in their demeanor and mood. They seem more relaxed and happy and actively seek out their coworkers for personal interactions. No computers, no sitting in a lounge chair and reading, and no emails to return. Synergy wins out over solitude.
The property is a venue for activities such as group conversations around the fire pit, outdoor yoga, and learning about farming right in the field. One of the best ways to learn anything is to jump in and get your hands dirty – literally! A peaceful, shaded outdoor yoga pavilion is underplanted with lavender and even though fall was approaching during my visit, the delicate smell of lavender was still wafting by.
The farm has an impressive commercial kitchen, and can provide a personal chef to prepare meals using eggs, fruits, and vegetables from the farm. This is a true farm-to-table experience where visitors choose what they want to eat within the confines of what’s ready to harvest that day.
Simple games such as bocce ball, cornhole, and ultimate frisbee are always available for those who desire a bit of friendly competition.
I can relate to Preston as a lover of open space and as a fellow San Franciscan who treasures his time in the Sonoma Valley as an antidote to the fast pace of urban life.
What I especially admire is his dedication to sharing his farm with the public in an effort to help us develop an appreciation for how our food is created. Seeing the “full circle” process of farming leaves one with a deeper respect for the entire ecosystem that nourishes our bodies and our communities.