Sonoma County Sustainability Part 2: Gardening
The food Americans eat can travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to reach us.
Each one of those miles is filled with pollution and the misuse of our planet’s limited resources. That’s all on top of the fact that the food is being chemically managed to stay fresh or to ripen at the right time, losing some of its nutritional value.
Sonoma County is not immune to this desire to import from afar. At Mountain Home Ranch in Calistoga, we do our best to keep things a little more local. Locally grown vegetables not only taste better, but can be much better for you—especially in the long run.
For us, growing and buying locally produced food is key to staying in harmony with the area in which we live. Working toward sustainability is an important aspect of who we are.
A member of our team graduated from a year-long permaculture program at the Regenerative Design Institute of Northern California. The knowledge from this program has helped us in our efforts to reengineer the onsite gardens.
Sustainable Gardens at Mountain Home Ranch
Mountain Home Ranch employs several practices to keep our land healthy and producing delicious, nutritious food. The one thing you’ll never find in our gardens is chemicals. Using fertilizer from our own animals, crop rotation, and insect-attracting plants, we keep our gardens sustainable.
Swales throughout the land help to capture and retain as much water as possible in the soil. Not only does this keep our stream running year-round, but it also keeps the plants greener longer into the summer, without watering. Swales also catch eroding soil which can be utilized in our gardens.
Our plan has always been to provide most of what we serve to our guests directly from the land. We’ve planted much of the space surrounding the developed land with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Our fruit trees provide fresh fruit and jams, syrups, and chutneys throughout the year. We also share whatever fruits and veggies we don’t eat with both the wild and domestic animals!
Over the years we’ve expanded our edible and herbal gardening practices, incorporating more herbs and utilizing them in new ways. We use our herbs in herbal medicine, learning how to support our health and the health of our animals naturally. Chamomile, for example, works much better than tranquilizers for calming when the need arises. The best part is that there’s no side effects!
Always there to Remind Us
On the Mountain Home Ranch property you can find our grandmother tree, an old growth redwood that’s been around for thousands of years. The tree is absolutely gorgeous, and, having remained in perfect harmony with its surroundings for centuries and centuries, serves as a reminder of the strength and balance of nature.
On the property you’ll also find something a bit older. Petrified wood has been around not for thousands, but millions of years. Over the slow, inexorable march of time, these trees gave up their nutrients molecule by molecule, eventually becoming one with the earth itself.
What remains reminds us not only that nature reclaims all, but also that our time on this planet is so unbelievable short, both as individuals and as a species. For us to have altered nature’s delicate balances so drastically in the short time we’ve been around is scary, indeed.
If we’re to survive in this world and keep both it and ourselves healthy for even a hundred more years, it’s imperative that we be gentle, be regenerative in our practices, and be respectful to nature and to future generations.