We’re city folks. And like a lot of people in the city, we’ve had dreams of having a place in the country where we can take a break from city life, grow our own food in a way that aligns with our values, and build a connection with nature and the land.
We also know that turning those dreams into reality can be a huge undertaking. We are realistic about the time, money, and expertise required, and how hard that would be to pull off ourselves while juggling the demands of jobs, families, and the cost of living in a place like the Bay Area. And moving to the country and trying to make a go of it professionally as a full-time farmer didn’t feel realistic either – there’s a saying that “behind every successful farmer is a spouse who works in town”.
Plus we like the city too, with its diversity of people, ideas, energies and resources. We also know that if everyone moved to the country, it wouldn’t be the country anymore.
We’ve dreamed about different ways we could find a middle ground, both for us and for people like us, and finally a few things came together to give it a try. Both of my grandfathers died within a short time from each other, and left behind some intergenerational resources that we wanted to put to good use.
We were able to buy some raw land in the Capay Valley, a major hub of the Bay Area sustainable farming community, and about 90 minutes from where we live in Berkeley. The property is a mix of hills and flatter areas – it’s not suited for large-scale production agriculture, but it’s a lovely spot to combine a more modest amount of food production with recreation – camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, and just hanging out and visiting with friends.
Our vision is to develop the property so that it can be shared by families and individuals from the city who have similar interests, but don’t have the resources/time/desire to do this on their own. After spending some time evaluating different business models, we settled on a plan based on finding barter-style “win-win” arrangements with people interested in using the land and willing to contribute something as part of the process. This came from the informal economies we started seeing in the Capay Valley. The guy who wants to graze his cows on the property in exchange for some of the meat. The beekeeper who wants to put hives on the property and provide some honey as “rent”.
Our plan is to find folks from the city who want to make similar arrangements, and we are starting to put together the details of what that looks like. Stay tuned….