Writing on Nov. 6, I must say that these last two weeks were a blur for me, as I’m sure they were for most of you.
We needed a break from thinking about our power being out, so we went to Diavola in Geyserville for dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
I was checking my Facebook feed at around 10 p.m. that night and noticed a post, “Vegetation fire in the Geysers.”
“Interesting,” I thought and turned out the light.
I was as awakened the next morning by a call from Dave’s daughter in Santa Rosa asking if we were OK. I opened the newspaper on my tablet and stared incredulously at bright red fire photos.
And our adventure began.
We were pretty lucky; only losing power and gas were small potatoes compared with the trials of those who had to leave their homes not knowing what they would come back to.
I am happy to report that all of our market vendors came through with no loss of their homes or livestock.
There are, however, several stories to tell.
Duncan (Duncan’s Mushrooms), who lives in the hills west of Geyserville, had to evacuate himself, his wife and his collection of large and small animals on Thursday morning and, having already had a plan in place, moved everyone to locations in Windsor and Healdsburg.
The snag was that the animals had to be moved again to Rohnert Park when the next phase began and those safe towns were evacuated.
The mushrooms, which had been moved to Windsor beforehand, didn’t fare as well, as the move kept them away from the fire, but a power glitch in the large cooler at his partner's facility toasted it and doomed the mushrooms it was holding.
Back at home and back in business, he reported yesterday that the mules weren’t so happy to return. Apparently they preferred their evacuation digs.
Dennis of Franco’s Sausage spent half a day in his car driving around the North Bay after leaving his home in Santa Rosa on Thursday, only to wind up back in Santa Rosa where he remained for the duration.
A lot of his sausages stayed put and did not survive.
If you, as I did, lost sausage that was in your freezer or fridge, be sure to visit Dennis’ booth during the next couple of markets.
Ashley of Buttercup Farm emailed all of us on Oct. 28.
“We are holding down the fort,” she said. “Decided not to leave the animals, etc. Been taking shifts with neighbors on the nearby hilltop to watch the fire lines. Wind was amazingly strong and we could see huge walls of flames in the distance.”
Happily, the farm was untouched by the fire.
Ashley’s last market for the season will be Nov. 19.
Melissa of Quail & Condor emailed us on Halloween morning: “Sean, Reid, Mochi (our dog) and I did a pop up on Saturday at Miracle Plum in Santa Rosa, then went straight to Berkeley for three days. Sean’s vacation was supposed to start this weekend, but will most likely dissolve, so we went to Tahoe for three days and are now heading home tonight. Reid never got to have his Halloween, so we are trick-or-treating here and I think I’m going to pass out candy, cake and pie in the Healdsburg Plaza this Saturday dressed up in our costumes.”
She’s taking a little break, but will be at the final market on Nov. 26, with Christmas cookie samples and other treats.
Rebecca (Lantern Farm), Kristin (Preston) and Jackie (Big Mountain) all live in Cloverdale.
Dry Creek Valley was one of the evacuated areas, so Kristin had days when she couldn’t get out to the farm, just worried about it.
“The cats, pig and sheep are all fine, just a little lonely and happy to have their people back,” she said. “Power and water outages were inconvenient and worrisome, but nothing was ruined for wine or veggies. This experience taught us many things about generators and solar power. Preston hopes to invest in some batteries to store all the solar power we generate from our rooftop panels.”
Flour Girl Shannon lives a ways out of town, but had to cope with the lack of gas in her Cloverdale commercial kitchen space, which made production difficult.
Dawn from Moon Dog Olive Oil said that the fires led them to cancel their Nov. 4 olive picking and harvest party, but that luck was on the farm’s side when it came to wind.
“As the fires got closer and our power stayed out it became apparent we needed to cancel the harvest party and focus on saving the farm and animals if need be,” she said. “Our male breeder goat, Sancho, was evacuated to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds as he was on a play date in Windsor. All the rest of our herd was able to stay put. Luck was with us and the winds blew south. The trees suffered from lack of water — we are on a well — but other then that we fared well. Harvest went as planned and the oil tastes great.”
I believe it was Rebecca’s idea to hold a fire market on Oct. 29 and she brought lots of produce from her farm that she and Kristin sold to the grateful shoppers who swarmed onto the lot at 3 p.m.
It was a special market day for several reasons — one of which being the $250 sponsorship from Erin Mavis Clothing that enabled folks who were short of cash to purchase food.
Shannon brought goodies, including candy apples that were a big hit.
Jackie joined the little group, with her wood tools, boards and tote bags.
Rebecca’s post the next day on the Lantern Farm Facebook page speaks volumes about the spirit of our market and the community that supports it.
“Against all odds we were able to pull off a wildly successful little farmers market yesterday,” she wrote. “Your support and happiness yesterday filled my heart. Everybody kept thanking us for showing up. Thank you in return for coming: it’s times like these that we have to stick together. I’m so glad I could provide some real food and a little bit of normalcy during these crazy times. The donations kept pouring in so we will be able to sponsor sales again at next week’s market. More details to follow. Thanks to (Flour Girl) and Big Mountain for sticking it out with me.”
The market the following week was just as busy, with most of our vendors in attendance and lots of shoppers enjoying the increased selection.
It was great to see many of our usual marketeers lined up outside the gate.
The donation pool had increased from the prior week to $350, which was spread out among the food vendors, who then shared it with their customers.
Our 2019 market season will conclude on Tuesday, Nov. 26, which will give folks an opportunity to stock up before the Thanksgiving holiday.
This will be my last column until the 2020 market season begins in April.
I hope that you all have enjoyed reading about our market, as much as I have enjoyed sharing our stories with you.
Karen Allan is the manager of the Cloverdale Tuesday Farmers’ Market. She’s rarely seen without Cora. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.