After a beautiful drive through the redwoods, we found our home for the night. More than just a lovely field to pitch our tent and make dinner, Green Uprising in Willits, CA turned out to be yet another window into what sustainable living can look like. There are a plethora of farms and communities working towards sustainable alternatives here, and this five-acre property was an idyllic introduction.
We camped in their lower field and woke up to the sound of birds whirling through the orchard space. In the morning we joined Alegra and MayHew (the farm’s interns) milking goats, and got to talking about agriculture. Neither of them have agriculture backgrounds, but, along with many in our generation, have recognized the importance of being a part of the food movement and understanding where your food is coming from. MayHew took a second to gather his thoughts when asked about the incorporation of local community and the farm. He put it well, stating, “We feed the community in a conventional way; we are trying to provide stability and steadfast social sustenance.” He also stressed the importance of being politically active. Alegra also added that they are “supporting other farmers, but also supporting values.” They also had some advice for people looking into farming: keep it simple. “It is easy to get overwhelmed. Get a baseline and do what you can,” were a few wise words from MayHew.
After milking, we walked over to the main house to help Sara, the farm matriarch, with making pesto. This is one of their many “value-added” products that will be sold at their farm stand and through farmer’s markets. As we sat around the table making food to share with community members, Sara told us more about the farm. They provide goat dairy and, when available, fruit and vegetables to their community through shareholders, a farm stand, and market.
While they would mainly consider themselves a subsistence family farm, providing food for the 12 family and working residents, they also are able to provide raw goat milk to their shareholders. While there is strict regulation around raw milk processing and distribution in California, one of the most feasible ways to allow this type of dairy to be distributed in the market is through collective animal ownership. This means Green Uprising’s customers are purchasing the animals directly, and the farm is responsible for housing, maintenance, and milking of the livestock.
Coming from Maryland and having worked for Ralph Nader’s Water Watch Group, it is no wonder she is so well versed in environmental policy surrounding her farm and family. She explained to us that while they are supporting themselves, the bottom line is that they need to pay off their land and stay true to their values.
Thank you Green Uprising Farm for welcoming us!