'Farmsteads' Celebrates Golden State Growers on the Edge | Civil Eats

‘Farmsteads’ Celebrates Golden State Growers on the Edge

The new book by Civil Eats contributor Sarah Henry, profiles the farmers and makers of California's Central Coast.

Farmsteads of the California Coast

The hardest part of working on a book highlighting California coastal farmers? Whittling the list of potential subjects down to a dozen growers who shine on the edge of the Golden State.

In Farmsteads of the California Coast (Yellow Pear Press, April 18), photographer Erin Scott and writer Sarah Henry teamed up to do just that. The book introduces readers to greens growers, oystermen, berry farmers, coffee producers, and even water buffalo whisperers.

The guide celebrates the work of these farmers, who are often overlooked in this age of celebrity chefs and food fetishism. It also touches on the challenges they face working the land, protecting the sea, and tending animals.

Some of the featured farmsteads may be familiar to Civil Eats readers, since Henry is a contributor to the site and has profiled alternative agriculture types for several years now.

The idea behind the project: Enticing readers to take their own field trips to get to know their farmers and their food. Publisher Lisa McGuinness includes simple recipes designed to whet the appetite for more. Dig in.

Workers on Green String Farm in PetalumaAt Green String Farm in Petaluma, young farmers learn respect for weeds from agrarian elder statesman Bob Cannard. Photo by Erin Scott.    

Mickey Murch of Gospel Flat Farm in Bolinas, Creator of 24/7 Honor System FarmstandArt meets agriculture at Gospel Flat Farm in Bolinas, where a 24/7 honor-system farmstand is popular with both locals and visitors alike. The family farm is a creative endeavor, says grower Mickey Murch, who sees the stand as a social sculpture. Photo by Erin Scott.

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

Sarah Cahn Bennett of Pennyroyal farm in BoonvilleSmall family farms continue to thrive on the California coast. And the next generation is keen to continue the tradition. Case in point: Sarah Cahn Bennett, who grew up on Navarro Vineyards & Winery in Philo. This farmer/winemaker has added cheese producer to her name, since opening Pennyroyal Farm, a goat and sheep property in nearby Boonville. Photo by Erin Scott.

Maria Reyes of Swanton Berry FarmCalifornia growers have become national leaders in the food justice movement, including Swanton Berry Farm, recognized for its leadership role in farm workers’ rights. Here, strawberry picker Maria Reyes carries the fruits of her labor. Photo by Erin Scott.

Water Buffalo on Double 8 Dairy in PetalumaWater buffalo gelato? Yep, and it’s delicious. Double 8 Dairy in Petaluma is just one example of the novel, niche and innovative farming practices in the region. Photo by Erin Scott.
Shellfish Farmer of Hog Island Oyster Company in MarshallAt Hog Island Oyster Company in Marshall shellfish farmers are working to protect this sustainable seafood from climate change. Photo by Erin Scott.

 Good Land Organics' Coffee BerriesGolden State Joe: At Good Land Organics in Goleta, near Santa Barbara, Jay Ruskey specializes in exotic fruit such as finger limes and coffee (pictured) that have won over caffeine critics. Photo by Erin Scott.

Thank you for being a loyal reader.

We rely on you. Become a member today to read unlimited stories.


Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

More from

Local Food


hickens gather around a feeder at a farm on August 9, 2014 in Osage, Iowa. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

What Happened to Antibiotic-Free Chicken?

With the biggest poultry company in the country backtracking and other commitments to raising healthier birds unmet, the future is rockier than it once seemed.


Nik Sharma Offers His Top Tips for Home Cooks to Fight Recipe Fatigue

Nik Sharma baking at left, and tossing a chickpea dish at right. (Photo credit: Nik Sharma)

Far From Home, the Curry Leaf Tree Thrives

Zee Lilani of Kula Nursery stands among her curry leaf tree starts in Oakland, California. (Photo credit: Melati Citrawireja)

A Guide to Climate-Conscious Grocery Shopping

Changing How We Farm Might Protect Wild Mammals—and Fight Climate Change

A red fox in a Connecticut farm field. (Photo credit: Robert Winkler, Getty Images)