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this issue: $4.95 VOLUME 22 | ISSUE 2 March - April 2017






Flower Farms; Festivals for Film, Apples, Fishermen & Fools; Butterfly & Farm Tours

Guerneville’s Bob Jones, Innovators behind the Toolbox Project, Patrick Miller’s Bohemian Business

Japanese Ramen & Pub Food with a twist, Spring Asparagus, Moonside Cheese & Willie Birds

Fiddles in Cloverdale, Bluegrass and Folk in Sebastopol, Cajun at Occidental’s Mardi Gras

Barrel Tastings, Passport to Dry Creek Valley, Vineyard Tours, Battle of the Brews



WE KNOW A COOL PLACE: Where Indie Wine, Spirits & Ciders Converge Finding Fields of Wildflowers Capturing the Wild Mushroom



The Mysterious World of Mushrooms


Flower Farms


Escape: Wildflower Heaven



8 Q&A: CHAT with Bob Jones, Minister, Writer and River Rat

10 WELL-BEING The Toolbox Project: Teaching Kids Tools for Life


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Willie Bird Turkeys & Moonside Cheese

16 OUT TO EAT Ramen Gaijin’s Modern Twist on Traditional Japanese Comfort Food

26 THE TASTING ROOM EXPERIENCE The Independent Spirits of Artisan Alley


44 POURING HIS ART OUT Patrick Miller’s life revolved around animation until it became set in stone.








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MARCH/APRIL 2017 Editor Patricia M. Roth Design & Production Brent A. Miller Managing Editor Sarah Bradbury Web Coordinator Laura Hagar Publisher Rollie Atkinson Associate Publisher Sarah Bradbury Sales Manager Paula Wise

Advertising Sales Cherie Kelsay Glenn Lurie Carol Rands Graphic Designers Jim Schaefer Diana Lerwick

Visit our sustainably farmed vineyard to enjoy Sonoma County’s most breathtaking views, or stop by our downtown Healdsburg Tasting Room to taste our Double Gold Medal & 90+ point Estate wines.

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ou’ve heard the saying: every person has a story. In our spring issue, we have some very interesting stories to tell. Fueled by curiosity, propelled by a dream or a desire to serve—these individuals are inspiring. Meet the co-founder and scientific advisor to the mycological association (all things mushroom), a minister involved with the Civil Rights Movement, and a botanist who shares his intricate knowledge of plants on wildflower walks. We also introduce you to educators who’ve developed ways to build and improve children’s social and emotional intelligence, and dreamers and doers who’ve created businesses around flowers, food, drinks, custom concrete and cheese. Evan Wiig’s story about wild and edible mushrooms is a fascinating read about a “prolific kingdom… comprising more than 5 million species,” some of which grow like crazy in our parks and others farmed domestically by renowned pioneers in specialty mushroom cultivation. Find out about upcoming fungi forays. Kimberly Kaido-Alvarez’s family has deep roots here and, when she writes, she shares anecdotes that make some of us want to go back in time and tag along with her. In this issue, her stories are all about flowers: in particular, the people who study and grow them. Follow her lead and you’ll be in wildflower heaven this spring. You’ll also learn about the farmers who got the flower bug. How do you teach kids the tools they need for life— empathy for people, for instance? A local visionary figured it out and created a project to empower and educate children. Read about the far-reaching success of The Toolbox Project, its founder and two individuals who contributed music and art used in the program. In regard to the eating and drinking scene, we suggest two cool places to try. In Windsor, check out the Artisan Alley Beverage District, where makers of wine, spirits and cider converge at one fun hotspot. And at Ramen Gaijin


in Sebastopol, the owners have created seasonal food and drink menus that locals can’t seem to get enough of. On the outskirts of The Barlow, concrete artisans are hard at work. The owner created a niche building custom products for homeowners and businesses. A Sebastopol native, it’s not surprising that he found inspiration in nature, or that that he developed methods to bring these elements into his work. Springtime marks the beginning of festival season—and we’ve got ’em galore. This year, Sebastopol’s Chamber will be honoring our longtime apple farmers at a reception preceding the Apple Blossom Festival and Parade. Film festivals open, kicking off in West County. First up: the 5th Annual Hitchcock Film Festival in Bodega Bay followed by the widely acclaimed Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, now in its 10th year. Get up close and personal with the winemakers and vineyard managers in Wine Road’s Barrel Tasting and at Dry Creek Valley’s Passport events. Join the Fool’s Parade in Occidental—or a Mardi Gras party. This is when fiddlers come out to play, and not to be missed: jazz and blues throughout the season. And there’s more—read about it all right here. Turn to Art & About for the latest on art openings and shows, and to Sheana Davis’ and Gayle Okumura Sullivan’s columns for insights and recipes. We live in a world of fascination and beauty. As you adventure out into springtime’s vibrant landscape, may you look with fresh eyes at that tiny mushroom popping up or those unique flowers reaching for the sun. When you taste something new or purchase something local, may you be curious about the person who labored to bring you their best. Most of all, may you bask in all that makes happy. Patricia Miller Roth Editor, Sonoma Discoveries

CONTRIBUTORS Abby Bard is a weaver who sells her handwoven clothing at local galleries and from her studio in Sebastopol. She is a member of Sonoma County Art Trails. She has a passion for growing food in an urban landscape.

Bo Kearns is a writer, beekeeper and nature lover. He has written award-winning short stories and recently completed the manuscript for a novel set in Indonesia where he lived for three years. He enjoys hiking and running the trails in the regional parks.

Sarah Bradbury is the associate publisher of Sonoma West Publishers, Inc. and the managing editor of Sonoma Discoveries. She has had the opportunity to photograph the county and its people for Sonoma Discoveries for 20 years.

Sonoma County native Laura Elise McCutcheon has been writing for newspapers for 20 years and working on and off in the wine industry. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, exercising, camping, flower gardening and just about anything that allows her to be creative.

Sheana Davis is a cheese maker, chef, caterer and culinary educator who creates edible experiences for food enthusiasts under the auspices of The Epicurean Connection, her gastronomic experience company. Learn more:

Janet Perry has been a reporter for a small Colorado mountain town for many years. New to Sebastopol, she’s now writing for several local publications.  An avid hiker and gardener, Janet says she’s found a lot to love here in Sonoma County, from the warm and friendly community to the beautiful farms, vineyards and rolling green hills. 

Writer Kimberly Kaido-Alvarez has contributed to Sonoma West Publishers for seven years. She has a background in graphic design, public relations, creative writing and dance. Growing up in Sonoma County, Kimberly developed a deep appreciation for nature, art, agriculture and good food. Marcy Gordon is a freelance wine, food and travel writer. Her travel narratives have been featured in numerous anthologies including Best Women’s Travel Writing. She is the founder of a literary arts foundation ( and is listed as one of the Top 100 Wine Influencers on Social Media, which basically means she drinks and tweets a lot. Loren Hansen is a Sonoma County native who, after spending several years as a makeup artist and bartender in Winnipeg, Manitoba, decided it was time to return to the wine country and pursue her long-time passion for photography. She specializes in documentary-style event photography, as well as food and wine. You can follow her on Instagram @Lorenh_photography or see more of her work at


Patricia Miller Roth is the editor of Sonoma Discoveries. She was previously a senior editor at Wine Business Monthly and has been a reporter and editor at various publications in California, from the San Joaquin Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco and lives in Sebastopol. Gayle Okumura Sullivan is co-owner and manager of Dry Creek Peach and Produce in Healdsburg, a boutique organic peach farm. With a background in marketing, she came to the farm in 2000, and has loved it since. During the summer you can find her at the market, in the farm stand, working with customers, or in the orchard. Evan Wiig has spent the last several years immersed in local food and agriculture, organizing young farmers, reviving his local Grange hall, and sitting on the Sonoma County Food Systems Alliance. As founder of the Farmers Guild, Evan works to educate, cross-pollinate and mobilize the newest generation of sustainable farmers.


Money for agriculture. It’s what we know. It’s all we do. Call 800.800.4865 today or visit A part of the Farm Credit System. Equal Opportunity Lender. AAC_SonomaDiscov_Overarching_Boots_3.675x4.75_4c.indd 1

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Spring Festivals & Odysseys of this world since it originated in 1947, most themes have hovered on nostalgia and tradition. An Apple Blossom Odyssey combines the past with the future. “We’ve never done a space theme before—it will be fun, and we’re also tying history into it so people will understand why we do this event every year,” Ramondo said. “It’s all about the apple—to bring more attention to why we celebrate it, why it is a part of our heritage and why we want to save it... On Friday night we are going to bring back a reception to celebrate the apple farmer. We are going to be honoring the people who are old-timers in the apple industry, who have stuck it out for many years,” Ramondo added. The parade starts at 10 a.m. Friday on Main Street; the festival follows at Ives Park.,, 707-823-3032

Barrel Tastings Weekends March 3-5, March 10-12 Wine Road–Northern Sonoma County welcomes you to its annual Barrel Tastings for an opportunity to sample wines, talk to winemakers and explore the beautiful Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys in early spring. Many wineries offer “futures” on their barrel samples, giving you a chance to purchase wine on-site, often at a discount, then come back to the winery when the wine is bottled, typically 12 to 18 months later. Many wines are so limited that buying futures is your only chance to purchase them. More than 100 wineries are participating. Pack a picnic basket before you hit the road, as most wineries will not offer food during this wine-focused event. California Artisan Cheese Festival March 24-26 Three days of cheese tasting, education and celebration—what more could a cheese lover ask for? The California Artisan Cheese Festival brings together cheesemakers, farmers, educators, authors, chefs, brewers and winemakers from all over the state. New this year are educational sessions and tastings with Friday tours; a Friday night Ultimate Best Bite featuring local cheesemongers, chefs and cheesemakers; a Saturday night Cheese and Cocktail Party; and two high-end Cheesemaker Dinners. “We are very proud of California’s artisan cheesemaking community which has grown exponentially over the last 11 years... and we love offering fun, delicious and interactive ways for attendees to experience the food they love,” said Festival Founder/President Tom Birdsall.

performances and activities for children. As the parade of fools winds its way through town, the all-volunteer Hubbub Club, dressed in their signature red band “uniforms,” will be making New Orleans street-band-style music. Fools of all ages will be frolicking about, wearing colorful clothes, silly hats, feathers, flowers, capes and frills. They may be blowing bubbles, skipping, skating, laughing and parading about with kin, pals and four-legged friends—whatever they feel like doing. Don’t miss the crowning of the King and Queen of Fools! occidentalcenterforthearts. org, 707-874-9392

Occidental Fools Day Parade April 1 The Occidental Fools Parade will be held on April Fool’s Day this spring—and that’s no joke. Organized by the Occidental Center for the Arts (OCA), the parade begins at 1 p.m. at the Occidental Community Center and ends at OCA, which is hosting an open house with live

71st Annual Apple Blossom Fest & Parade April 22-23 (reception April 21) The Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is taking the Sebastopol Apple Blossom Festival to a place it has never gone before—into outer space, said Chamber Executive Director Teresa Ramondo. While the popularity of this hometown event has been out


28th Annual Passport to Dry Creek Valley Prelude: April 28, Passport: April 29-30 The Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley host their signature event during the last weekend in April, drawing thousands of people from around the country. “Passport is the original and gold standard of passportstyle events, and each winery provides a unique destination that has a very strong food and wine pairing element,” said Ann Petersen, Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley executive director. Wineries are throwing elaborate themed parties, with chefs, music and newly released and limited-edition wines. Several VIP ticket add-ons are new, such as “vineyard designate” tasting experiences, meals with winemakers, and vineyard tours. The vineyard designate experiences enable consumers to talk with growers and vintners about winemaking style, wine production and terroir. Sunday-only tickets are available for locals, but they sell out fast. “Most of our wineries are selling direct to consumer (DTC), so they really want to make connections with the consumers,” Petersen said.


Film Festivals Project the Heart of Sonoma County by Janet Perry


onoma County’s annual film festivals entice viewers with vibrant, thoughtful cinema that reflect both the state of the world and the heart of Sonoma County. The Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival is celebrating 10 years running. “The festival brings some of the world’s best independent filmmakers to Sonoma County, and they will be recognized at the festival,” said SDFF Director Randy Hall. The festival takes place March 23-26 at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. “I’m very humbled to be the custodian of this festival during its 10th year,” Hall continued. “The library of films that have been showcased, and the filmmakers who have passed through this city with their projects, represent an amazing array of talent and commitment to the documentary form.” Hall is enthusiastic about this year’s festival. “Our spotlight this year is on the filmmakers: past, present and, hopefully, future. We will be presenting several films from the previous 10 years, including “I Am Sarah Maple,” “School Play,” “Miss Shade Is Missing” and “Waiting for Women.” In several cases, we’ve also programmed new films from these same filmmakers for this year’s festival, allowing audiences to see how the filmmaker’s craft has evolved over time.” Hall said, “We have brought together a really special selection of films for this March. There’s always a balance that needs to be struck between “issue-related” or “cause-related” documentaries… Sebastopol’s audience ‘gets’ documentary and cares about the subjects and stories portrayed in there.” Cynthi Stefenoni, chairperson of SDFF, added, “This year, SDFF 2017 is proud to

screen a total of six LGBTQI-themed films… “The Freedom to Marry,” directed by Eddie Rosenstein, and “Out Run,” directed by Leo Chiang, are both films made by filmmakers who have screened at SDFF in the past. “Since the main focus of SDFF 2017 is to recognize and honor the past, present and future work of all filmmakers who

wine, snacks and soda will be sold and all the proceeds will go to support the two local elementary schools’ art programs. Weir says this year they’ll be showing “The Birds” and “Rear Window.” The films are shown in Bodega Bay’s Grange Hall. The Alexander Valley Film Society offers year-round educational and cultural enrichment programs, including the Alexander Valley Film Lab, which works with school districts and youth leaders to provide programs that create access and opportunities for students in public schools. The Society recently wrapped up its Red Carpet evening fundraiser in February. It will announce October dates for the Alexander Valley Film Festival, as well as events held throughout the year, on its website. Celebrating its 20th year, the Sonoma International Film Festival, from March 29 to April 2, will Illustration by by Tim McGee feature more than 90 hand-selected screen at SDFF, we are thrilled to have these films. The Windsor Independent Film two well-crafted documentaries included Festival—designed to showcase and promote in the program,” said Stefenoni. “We are independent filmmakers, with an emphasis also screening “Real Boy,” an incredibly on local talent—happens at the Windsor well-crafted story whose main character, a High School Theater, with January dates to transgender musician, has lived in Sonoma be announced. Dates for the Sonoma County County. Given the current climate in Jewish Film Festival will be announced later America, it is certain to engender engaged as well. The OUTwatch Film Festival will be and lively Q & A sessions after these films.” held November 3-5 at 3rd Street Cinema in Another Sonoma County favorite, the Santa Rosa. SD 5th Annual Hitchcock Film Festival, is set in Learn more: scenic Bodega Bay on March 18. The festival hosts a fun day of events in the town where Hitchcock filmed “The Birds.” Shona Weir, chairperson for this year’s festival, says it’s a great day to see the town and to have fun viewing the mini-museum of memorabilia, getting a photo taken in front of a “surprise” Hitchcock backdrop and enjoying classic Hitchcock films. Food,



Chat with Bob Jones Minister, Writer and River Rat Interview by Patricia M. Roth


When and why did you become involved in the Civil Rights Movement? This happened on Sept. 16, 1963, when we were living in Topeka, Kansas. The day before, four little African American girls were killed by a bomb in their Sunday School. I was walking down the street and saw the headline at a newsstand. It stopped me cold. I said to myself, “Lord God, we can’t let kids be bombed in Sunday School, that’s all there is to

photo by Sarah Bradbury

sense of what faith and worship can mean. When I broke the communion bread, tears streamed down their faces. In that moment, they seemed to feel a connection with all their loved ones, both living and dead, and with the suffering they and their forebears had been through, all the way back to Wales. It wasn’t something to be explained, it was just there. I learned that Jones is a Welsh name, and that being Welsh includes being lifted by songs and poems and inspiring words. And I learned that faith and worship are much more than the theologies by which we try to understand them, much more than believing in this or that creed. I learned that religion has to do with the heart, the inner person and the shared community, that it is a way to approach great mystery and can take many blessed forms. Among my best teachers were the dear people of Welsh Hill all those years ago.

photo by Sarah Bradbury

About Bob Jones Bob Jones grew up in Watsonville during World War II and worked on apple, berry and lettuce farms as a kid. Then it was Cal Berkeley and Princeton Seminary and parishes in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Topeka, Kansas, Guerneville, and Santa Rosa. At age 60, he earned a doctorate in poetry and religion. Three books emerged: “Limited To Everyone,” about a more inclusive way of faith; “Prayers for Puppies, Aging Autos, and Sleepless Nights,” offbeat prayers with drawings by Gay Guidotti; and “God, Galileo, and Geering,” dealing with writings by religion scholar Lloyd Geering. Married 57 years, he and his wife Arline have two daughters, both teachers, and four grandchildren.

Early in your career, you lived among and ministered to Welsh coal miners in Northern Pennsylvania. What did this experience teach you? This was in hard coal country, West Scranton’s “Welsh Hill,” where we arrived, newly married, in 1959. I was just out of Princeton Seminary, and Arline was still in college. Most of the mines had shut down and were filling with water. Many men were out of work, some with black lung disease gasping for breath and spitting into a bucket. Rotten egg gas from the slag heaps wafted over the town. The recession of 1959 hit Scranton hard. Money was scarce. My salary was $300 a month, and that was more than many families had to live on. In spite of all this, the people had a spirit in them that surged up in powerful singing. They poured all of life into their ponderous Welsh hymns, many of them in minor keys. On my first Sunday there, standing before the congregation in the midst of reverberating song, I knew I was part of something I had never known before. The sound was a kind of aching wail, as if it arose out of dark mines and the cave-ins and explosions, the danger and death. But there was also a soaring sound of eventual triumph, if not in this world, then the next. I was overwhelmed. Nothing in seminary prepared me for this

it.” I may have used stronger language than that. I walked downtown where Sam Jackson, head of Topeka’s NAACP, was forming up a march. He invited me to join in, handed me a sign to carry, and put me in the front row. I was the only white person I could see, though it turned out others were there. We marched several blocks down the main street and turned left into an African American section of town where we entered a stately wooden church that soon filled to standing room only. I was given a seat on the platform next to Linda Brown, whose father, back in 1954, was principle plaintiff in the case that began the desegregation of the nation’s schools. That Linda Brown had to walk over a mile to catch a bus to a segregated school on the other side of town, even though there was a school seven blocks from her home, was significant to the case. By 1963, Linda Brown was a grown woman and a symbol of the struggle for equality in Topeka. I felt I had a seat of honor. I was asked to give the invocation, which I did, with the congregation responding “Amen” and “Yes, Lord” as I prayed. I’m telling you it was hard to stop with all that good will and enthusiasm coming my way. After that, many spoke, many mournful hymns were sung, many prayers were offered, and the service went on into the night. Next day, the morning paper had a picture of the march on its front page, and it looked like I was leading it. Well, this didn’t set well with a lot of people, including some members of the historic Central Congregational Church where I had been Associate Pastor for only a few weeks. This was the beginning of three heady years of meetings, vigils, and marches, including the last part of the march from Selma to Montgomery led by Martin Luther King in 1965. That was a glorious day. The group Peter, Paul and Mary sang, as did Joan Baez and several others. Dr. King gave a stirring address in front of the beautiful Alabama capitol with a stern line of green helmeted and well-armed Alabama police stretched out on the steps behind him. Governor George Wallace, reportedly, looked out an upstairs window, but he refused to meet with Dr. King. Next to me in the throng was a young African American woman who was studying to be a teacher. I asked her how she felt about what was happening. She said she was

so glad to be there, but her mother, afraid of what might happen, had begged her not to march. As soon as the march was over, we were warned to get out of town right away, which we did. While I was in Alabama, my wife and our newborn daughter received death threats over the phone. Arline didn’t tell me about this until maybe 10 years later. She knew, I guess, that knowing much sooner would have freaked me out. Given your unique perspective, where do you think we are we today with race relations in our country? I’m afraid the gains of the Civil Rights Movement are being eroded away. It pains me that the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which the Selma to Montgomery march helped bring about, was weakened by the Supreme Court, allowing states to restrict the vote. I think it had an effect on the recent election. So here we go again. That we need the Black Lives Matter movement is another indication we have a long way to go. But I’m pleased to see huge turnouts for the Women’s Marches around the world. They seem to champion freedom and justice for everyone. I hope they will follow Dr. King’s non-violent ways and become a growing force for the good of all people and the Earth itself. I may even go marching again someday. As longtime minister of the Guerneville Community Church and Monte Rio Community Presbyterian Church, was there a theme to your messages that you shared with your congregations? Looking back, I see that I started out trying to say something like “the pull of faith and the tug of life are not necessarily in opposite directions.” Later, I often found myself saying “the Christian God is too exclusive,” hoping we would open up to various ways of faith and a wide range of life orientations. River folks took that pretty well, I’m pleased to say. Recently a main theme is “we are called to create caring communities.” I’ve used the little town of Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show as an example of a community where people accept each other for who they are and support one another through the ups and downs of life. Congregations are often like that, I’ve found, warm, inviting, supportive, and I can’t understand why so many people find it good to stay away from them.

You write columns, books and poetry and belong to a writer’s group. You seem to have a rich, deep writing life. What does writing mean to you? It’s a way of knowing where I am in my trek through life. I don’t keep an organized journal, but I’m always jotting things down, things I notice or things that just come to mind. Some jottings develop into sermons or columns or poems or even books, but many don’t. I think we do well to leave some record behind telling how it was for us to live in this world during our time. It’s a satisfying thing to do. Tell us about your upcoming book, “Proud to be a River Rat.” When will it be published and how can people purchase it? I’m hoping it’s out by March or April. It’s a collection of columns I’ve written, first for that wide-ranging publication called The Paper, then for the Russian River News, and now for the Sonoma West Times and News. It features people I’ve known along the lower Russian River these 50 years or so, people like Bill Byrd, Guerneville’s candidate for president of the United States, whose platform still appeals to me more than many I’ve seen from the major parties. It’s a fun book and may even have some historical value. It will be available on Amazon, in local outlets, and I’ll have copies that people can get at a discount. Is there anything else you’d like to add? You mentioned jazz. This started with my mother who had been a Flapper Girl in the 1920s. She always had the music playing at home. In seminary, my roommate blasted his Ella Fitzgerald records out the window to give the school a little culture, he said. Over the years, hanging out in jazz clubs, I became kind of a chaplain to the scene, doing funerals and weddings for some of the musicians. I even baptized one of them. And I served on the board of the Russian River Jazz Festival when we brought the likes of Dave Brubeck, Count Basie, and Carmen McRae to The River. We barely broke even, but the music was great. Also, I do church gigs, “And God Said, ‘Let There Be Jazz,’” with drummer Benny Barth, guitarist Randy Vincent, and Chris Amberger on bass. They played at the 50th Monterey Jazz Festival, and Benny played at the first one. Benny recently passed away, so my grandson Adam of Novato High School, to whom Benny gave his first drum lesson 10 years ago, is now our drummer on these gigs. What fun. SD



Artist and art teacher Allis Teegarden created the illustrations for the Toolbox Music and Coloring Book. Photo by Sarah Bradbury

Teaching Kids Tools for Life The Toolbox Project is used by dozens of schools and endorsed by the Dalai Lama by Laura Elise


f “a picture is worth a thousand words,” then combining pictures and words that help instill in our hearts empathy, patience and kindness— among other invaluable traits—could potentially have the ability to change the world, one young, influential child at a time. And what a wonderful world this could be if we all practiced what The Toolbox Project teaches. With an underlying theme focusing on “a brotherhood of man,” you might imagine that Toolbox was inspired by music legend John Lennon, but it wasn’t. Rather, these documented “tools for


life,” used in classrooms around the globe, are the genius of Mark Collin, founder of Dovetail Learning and the author of The Toolbox Project, which consists of 12 tools or “human capacities” that provide children with “fundamental practices and strategies” to help develop a sense of well-being and the ability to effectively communicate. For example, when we use the Listening Tool, “we listen with our ears, our eyes and our hearts (and) we become deep listeners who can ‘hear between the lines’ and gather important information. Our ears bring us words and intonation; our

Elementary school children from West Side Union Elementary School in Healdsburg color in the activity book (photo by Susie Dalton). Mark Collin is author and program creator for The Toolbox Project (photo by Sarah Bradbury).

eyes bring us body language, gestures and facial expressions; and our hearts bring us empathy—allowing us to reflect on how we are feeling and how to also take a ‘walk in someone else’s shoes,’” states information about each tool in the back of the Toolbox lyrical coloring book. The coloring book comes complete with a compact disc of related songs, written and produced by West County’s Jim Corbett, also known as “Mr. Music.” Collin—previously a marriage and family therapist in Santa Rosa, who was clinically trained in eastern and western developmental and contemplative sciences—said the coloring book was published six months ago, but the Toolbox Project has been in local schools for about 10 years. The coloring book is now just another element of the curriculum. He said he started creating Toolbox 23 years ago when he was working as a school counselor in Cazadero. From there it was instituted into Apple Blossom School in Sebastopol. And that was just the beginning. What was launched in Cazadero is now going worldwide, Collin said, noting: Dovetail Learning (home of the Toolbox) is getting calls from Dubai, Jordan, Amsterdam, Croatia and Indiana, and it’s already being

used at six schools in South Africa. “It went from two schools to over 180 today, serving over 75,000. Before the coloring book, there was still a very comprehensive curriculum via posters, cutout tools… the coloring book is the expressive arts extension of the Toolbox curriculum,” he said. While adults, too, would benefit from living their lives based on these same principles, the goal of Toolbox is to teach children about “the tools they have inside them, that they don’t even know about yet,” Collin said. “They have within themselves the resources they need to be the person they want to be, to reach their full potential, to find and realize their hopes and their dreams. “It’s important because it provides children with the missing piece. If you really look at what’s going on in our society—self-defeating behaviors and a lot of adverse childhood experiences now— Toolbox is interwoven, and a prevention of that,” he said. In a short Toolbox video called, “How do you fix a bully,” a small group of third and fourth grade students are shown having a discussion on the topic. Either they have already mastered the art of acting at a young age, or they have truly


Jim Corbett, known as Mr. Music, wrote the lyrics and music for The Toolbox Project, matching the feel of each tool with the tempo of each song. Photo by Sarah Bradbury

gained insight and empathy from what they have learned thus far. “If somebody hits me, I don’t go hitting them back. I use the breathing tool,” one of the girls said. “They have kindness in them, but it’s just really deep down in their hearts… so they are being bullies just because they want attention, but they feel like they are being lonely and not getting really along and getting love,” said one of the boys. “Because they have something wrong with their life and they feel sad and they take it out on other kids,” said another student. “Maybe they don’t get to see their mom or dad.” “Maybe it’s ’cause their parents died.” “Maybe it’s ’cause something bad has happened in their life,” chimed the others. “Because if you hold on to something for so long it can crush your heart and it can crush your dreams to where you become a bully and you bully other people and try crushing their dreams and that wouldn’t be 12

nice or fair. They feel bad for what they have done, really they do, they just don’t like to show it ’cause then they feel like they get in trouble by themselves,” concluded one of the boys in the video, which is one of several Toolbox clips found at A desire to complete the hours he needed to obtain his Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) license is ultimately what led Collin to develop Toolbox, he said. “I went into the school in Cazadero as a school counselor. I was going to stay for three months (all the hours he needed for his license) and I ended up staying nine years. I fell in love with the kids. And clearly there was a missing piece in their education, and they helped me come up with the 12 tools while I was there. I brought in ideas and they would give a thumbs up, or thumbs down, basically,” he said. Corbett gave it his thumbs up years ago, when Collin was still a school counselor developing Toolbox and Corbett was a music teacher working at the same school.

Toolbox Songs “When I learned about the Toolbox from my friend, Mark Collin, I felt that each tool could be expressed in a song, which would teach the kids in three minutes what it might take a teacher a week to reinforce,” he said. So with Collin’s encouragement, Corbett wrote the first Toolbox song, which introduces the concept of the Toolbox ‘deep inside’ the child. After that, he said he procrastinated for a number of years, until “finally sitting down and working out all the songs.” The tools in the Toolbox are strong qualities that each person possesses, but children and adults need to be taught that they exist and can be accessed, Corbett said. “I love writing songs and given each theme, I tried to match the feel of each tool with the melody and tempo of each song. The breathing tool and the quiet/safe place tool have a meditative quality, while empathy and garbage can invite a sing-along feel.” The songs were recorded at Zone

Recording in Cotati with producer/engineer Blair Hardman. Local musicians and singers, including Corbett, were used in all the tracks. “Currently 45 schools in Sonoma County use the Toolbox for the elementary school kids, and it is used throughout the country and in places as far away as South Africa,” Corbett said. “It has been endorsed by the Dalai Lama as an effective tool for creating a positive world. Now if we can just get our politicians to use it, all will be well.” Meanwhile, it sounds like children are getting the concept, which is being reinforced every time they sing the songs and color in the Toolbox Music and Coloring Book, illustrated by Sonoma County artist Allis Teegarden, who has taught drawing and painting to both children and adults for nearly 30 years. Teegarden, whose grandchildren are in elementary school, said she has witnessed firsthand how much children enjoy the Toolbox songs and playful images and how much “they take these lessons to heart.” She said her grandson told her that the listening tool “really works” and that it made his sister happy when he used it with her. “It turned out to be a really deep experience for me,” Teegarden said. “To come up with visual images of saying please and thank you, or patience or empathy… how do you say that in a picture? And keep it simple enough for kids, with lines and not coloring anything in?” she said. She also didn’t want to just illustrate the book with her own complete drawings, but to let each child get involved and make it a personal experience. She did this by drawing simplistic outlines of people, which become self portraits, after the student colors in and adds his or her own hair style and color, eye color, skin color and even clothing and accessories, if wanted. On the pages with the self-portraits are illustrations of each tool. “I ended up doing a few images of one thing and then narrowing it down. It was very fascinating. It was a big challenge,” she said, noting, the Toolbox program already had its own images, but she wanted to update them. For example, she changed a hand tool used for sanding, which represented patience, to a seedling growing into a flower. Asked what he hopes to see come of this project, Collin said, “I hope that it can contribute worldwide to this missing piece in children’s and families’ lives, which is a secular wisdom and knowledge of self and others.” Toolbox Music & Coloring Book will soon be available (outside of the classroom) online at SD

Where California Wine Country Meets The Sonoma Coast... The

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Moonside Creamery is family-owned and operated. Cheesemaker Jennifer Kirkham is pictured (above) with her daughter Stella, who enjoys helping out around the creamery as her school and soccer schedule allows. Photo by Vivian Strauss

Photos provided


Willie Bird Turkeys & Moonside Cheese written by Sheana Davis


ach month, if not more frequently, my husband and I head out for a culinary adventure throughout Sonoma County. This month, we split our trip between historical culinary treasure Willie Bird Turkeys and new-to-the-culinary scene Moonside Creamery. Together they absolutely represent Sonoma County as a whole plate! If you combine the products produced by both companies, you have so many options as to what to make for dinner. I have provided you with a few simple suggestions along with a couple of recipes that combine these epicurean delights. Moonside Creamery, located in the town of Bodega, produces artisan Jersey cow milk cheeses along with mixed milk cheeses, including buffalo milk from nearby


Double 8 Dairy and Jersey cow milk from neighboring Lepori Dairy, which is certified organic. Cheesemaker Jennifer Kirkham has been producing cheese professionally in Sonoma County for four years. She started as cheesemaker at both Pug’s Leap Cheese and Tomales Farmstead Creamery, where she earned national awards for her cheesemaking skills. Now, having established her own creamery, she produces two delicious cheeses: Lunetta and Grady’s Wheel. Lunetta is a pure Jersey cow milk cheese, which produces a rich creamy flavor, and the Grady’s Wheel blends Jersey cow milk and Buffalo milk, creating a unique and silky flavor. Currently Moonside Creamery does not offer farm tours, although you may find

her cheeses at Freestone Cheese Shop and your local Oliver’s Markets and Petaluma Market. Look for Moonside Creamery cheeses on the menu at Willie’s Wine Bar— and as she grows her company, we will see her cheeses throughout Sonoma County. Willie Bird Turkeys are synonymous with Sonoma County. I first had Willie Bird turkey at a Select Sonoma County Event at Saralee’s Vineyard when I was in culinary school. This event was way ahead of its time, as Saralee’s hosted “Taste of Sonoma County,” enabling guests to enjoy tastes of all-foods-Sonoma County, including Willie Bird turkeys. Our family has a few favorites, including the turkey bacon and turkey links. By far our longtime family favorite is the smoked turkey breast. We purchase the 5-pound-ish

smoked turkey breast and have it sliced paperthin, then we tend to enjoy it on just about everything, from sandwiches or tossed in an omelet to mixed in pasta or a soup. Recently we enjoyed mini-slider rolls from Costeaux French Bakery with sliced Willie Bird turkey, Kozlowski Farms mustard, melted Joe Matos St. George cheese and fresh salad greens from Green String Farm. Yes, it was delicious, and it was very Sonoma County! Willie Bird Turkeys are known for their high quality, free-range meats. They continue to use low sodium in all their meats, which make them always taste fresh

and delicious and which is why so many chefs around the county love their products. Their smokehouse, where they smoke allnatural, noadded flavors and use sweet maple and hardwoods for their smoke, is located in East Sonoma County (not open to the public). Their retail shop is located in West Santa Rosa, where there is a deli and meat shop take-out. This is a must-stop for a true taste of Sonoma. Look for Willie Bird Turkeys in the Williams Sonoma catalogue, your local butcher shop and, of course, drop in and say hi and enjoy a taste. Next time you think turkey, think Willie Bird Turkeys. SD

RECIPES Moonside Creamery Fondue Created by Sheana Davis, The Epicurean Connection Yields fondue for 4-6 guests 1/2 pound Moonside Creamery Grady’s Wheel, shredded 1/2 pound Lunetta cheese, shredded 2 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted

Once smooth and creamy, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with roasted vegetables, fresh baked breads and roasted Willie Bird turkey sausages. Enjoy with a glass of Merry Edwards Chardonnay or a glass of Horse and Plow hard apple cider.

‘A Taste of Sonoma County’ Sandwich Created by Sheana Davis, The Epicurean Connection

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, sifted 1 garlic clove, pressed and save juice 1 cup Sonoma County Chardonnay 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Willie Bird turkey, Kozlowski Farms mustard, melted Moonside Creamery Lunetta cheese and fresh salad greens from Green String Farm, served on a Costeaux French Bakery brioche slider roll.

*Optional to add in 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme and

Combine grated cheeses in a large bowl and toss with cornstarch and dry mustard, coating cheese evenly. In a heavy-bottom pot, over medium heat, add the wine, lemon juice and garlic and bring to a simmer. Whisk in salt and pepper, gradually whisking in the cheese.

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Ramen Gaijin co-owners (l-r) Matthew Williams and Moishe Hahn-Schuman


Ramen Gaijin A Modern Twist on Traditional Japanese Comfort Food by Abby Bard Photos by Loren Hansen


f you associate ramen with those cellophane-wrapped packets of dried noodles that are a staple of dormroom sustenance, your perceptions will be turned upside down when you dig into a steaming bowl of this traditional Japanese-style meal as prepared by the chefs at Sebastopol’s Ramen Gaijin. A new image of ramen will forever eclipse the old, and your taste-buds will cheer! Each dish is lovingly prepared from house-made ingredients and beautifully presented, honoring traditional Japanese ramen, but made with prime local ingredients. And there’s much more than ramen to explore here, with izakaya— Japanese-style pub food—and unusual cocktails and seasonal tonics made from Japanese teas, spirits and ginger beer.


This delightful jewel of an eatery is the brainchild of a pair of young chefs, both with extensive experience in California-style fine dining, who are offering a completely different culinary experience, served in a communityand family-oriented setting. Moishe HahnSchuman and Matthew Williams, co-owners of Sebastopol’s Ramen Gaijin, met while working at Woodfour Brewery, under former executive chef Jamil Peden. They realized that their lives followed similar trajectories and they shared a common goal of having their own restaurant. Meeting when they did at Woodfour was serendipitous. Both chefs are under 40, and both are married with small children; they understood the challenges and pressures of juggling the long hours of the restaurant business with

raising a family. “We had common ground. The communication was good and we felt we could get along,” Hahn-Schuman told me when we spoke in late November on Ramen Gaijin’s heated patio that opens to Sebastopol’s Town Plaza. Prior to cooking at Woodfour, HahnSchuman had a pop-up restaurant at the Casino in Bodega Bay, focused around soulful, honest food. He’d learned his craft on the job at high-end restaurants here in wine country, and in San Francisco and Hawaii. Then, taking his cooking in an entirely different direction, he’d started a program at Summerfield Waldorf School to prepare food for kindergarteners, high school students, and faculty, sourcing produce grown by the students from the school’s “incredible” biodynamic farm. In contrast to cooking at the fancier restaurants, running the program at Summerfield showed Hahn-Schuman that “I could enjoy myself with food in a way that is more meaningful and less pretentious.” Matthew Williams started working in restaurants at age 15 in Boulder, Colorado, and supported himself by cooking at several European-style restaurants there while studying journalism at the University of Colorado. After graduating and working as a journalist, “I found I was happier in a kitchen than behind a desk,” he said. He studied in the Culinary School of the Rockies, then staged [interned] in southern France at two Michelin-starred restaurants, L’Oustau de Baumaniere and La Cabro D’Or in St. Remy. He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, staging at Fifth Floor restaurant in the Hotel Palomar. He then went to Seattle to take a sous chef position at Kimpton Hotel’s Tulio Restaurant. “I was there for two years, and learned a lot. Then I had the opportunity to open Tilth, working for Executive Chef Maria Hines.” Williams spent 1-1/2 years at Tilth, briefly moved to Portland, and returned to Seattle to become executive chef (and minority investor) at Beato, where he met his wife, Lauren Klopp-Williams. The couple spent four months in Italy and decided to settle in Sebastopol where Klopp-Williams’ father grows Pinot Noir grapes on his Klopp Ranch. Williams cooked at Sebastopol’s Zazu, Meadowood in Napa, the Duck Club in Bodega Bay, and Osteria Stellina in Pt. Reyes before cooking at Woodfour in Sebastopol, where he met Hahn-Schuman.


“So we met, and we’d go out to eat named Ramen Gaijin—Ramen for the together,” said Hahn-Schuman. They ate traditional bowl of noodles with broth and at a lot of Ramen shops in San Francisco. toppings, and Gaijin for the Japanese word “Ramen was kind of a fad for six or seven for foreigner. Encouraged by how busy they years, and every ramen shop had lines of were, they bought Nixon’s liquor license and people out the door. We thought, ‘what did a complete remodel of the bar area— if we did ramen in Sonoma County?’ It’s adding plants, tables made from Cazadero approachable, soulful food and nobody else redwood, and colorful deep orange lanterns was offering it here. So we started small and that add warmth to the modern décor— tested the waters.” finishing their expansion in The two developed their March of 2016. Ramen Gaijin partnership by hosting a The space continues 6948 Sebastopol Ave., pop-up ramen restaurant to have a split identity. Sebastopol every two weeks on days They kept the two-kitchen, 707-827-3609 when Woodfour’s kitchen two-menu concept—with was closed, and they sold out one kitchen preparing every time. They hoped that ramen dishes and the other in the future their pop-up preparing izakaya dishes. In would become a permanent restaurant. Two Japan, izakaya is a casual pub, a place to get years ago, they acted on their vision when beers and small bites, Japanese-style tapas. Jamilah Nixon, owner of Forchetta-Bastoni At Ramen Gaijin, the izakaya menu offers (a hybrid restaurant serving both Italian Japanese pub food, with a twist. During food and Thai street food), approached them lunch hours, ramen is served in the entire about leasing the space where the Italian space. For dinner, ramen is served only in restaurant had recently closed. They decided the back and upstairs dining rooms, while to take the plunge. downstairs in the bar and on the outdoor In December of 2014, they began serving patio, diners can pair izakaya with unique their ramen specialties four nights a week cocktails and beer, for happy hour and for in their new permanent space, which they dinner.


What’s consistent about both menus is the attention to quality and detail. The izakaya menu includes yakitori (traditionally skewered and grilled seasoned chicken). Ramen Gaijin offers a broader choice of this dish, including the traditional chicken, plus shoyu-braised pork belly, wagyu beef short rib, Hokkaido scallops, trumpet mushrooms, butterball potatoes, Nardello pepper, and yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball). There’s a pickle plate, Kumomoto oyster, maguro poke, a variety of salads with seafood and vegetables and the beautifully presented “Wing” or hane-tsuki gyoza, a Japanesestyle pot sticker. “We wanted to serve gyoza in the traditional way,” said Hahn-Schuman. “It’s rare and hard to find.” He learned to make it from recipes by acclaimed chef Masaharu Morimoto, “and by trial and error.” The gyoza wrapping (or skin, as it’s called) is made of wheat noodle dough. It’s made using boiling water, which keeps it soft and pliable. The filling is made from Devil’s Gulch Ranch ground pork. “We grind all our own meat and make everything from scratch,” including the different types of noodle dough and broth. Their okonomiyaki—which translates

as “Grilled as you like it”—is typical street food in Japan. At Ramen Gaijin, the ingredients change seasonally. “We’ve created one that we’re excited about. It’s a savory pancake, with a batter made with dashi, with cabbage, green onions, braised beef cheeks and kimchee—all house-made.” For a traditional chicken katsu, which is pounded, breaded and fried, and rolled up with cheese inside, they use an organic triplecream cow cheese called “Flower-Power” speckled with bee pollen, made in Sebastopol by Bohemian Creamery. Hahn-Schuman and Williams plan the menus together. There is constant evolution and the menu changes seasonally, but you will always find three kinds of ramen: shoyu, shiitake miso (vegetarian), and spicy tan tan. Traditional ramen broth is composed of tare (a seasoning component) plus oil and stock. The seasoned broth and the oil flavor the noodles. Tokyo-style shoyu ramen is a soy-based tare and includes roasted pork, wakame or nori seaweed, memna (lactofermented bamboo, marinated in soy sauce),

scallion or negi (Japanese leek) and is topped with a soft-boiled egg. “Our shoyu ramen is similar, but different,” said Hahn-Schuman. “We use rendered pork fat or sesame oil for the oil component of our broth. And we use rye noodles for an earthy feel, for character and depth, and braised pork belly—which is fatty, juicy, and delicious—and memna, wakame, leeks and a soft-boiled egg.” In the spring, their raman dishes include chicken-based tori paitan with asparagus, pea shoots and carrots. In the fall, their tori paitan is made with chicken broth and meat, grilled chicory, roasted carrots and braised Swiss chard, all locally sourced. The winter ramen has a pork-based broth, boiled for 24 hours into a rich liquid, with tonkatsu (a crispy, breaded fried pork cutlet), pickled ginger, bok choy, wood ear mushrooms, and scallions. This dish is topped with an onsen egg, poached in the shell at 63 degrees, cooked to custard consistency (traditionally in hot springs in Japan). This year they are rebuilding their

yakitori (barbecued meat-on-a-stick) program and creating a firebrick hearth to prepare it. “We are really proud of our yakitori,” said Hahn-Schuman. “We cook it over a Japanese white-oak charcoal called binchō-tan [a clean-burning charcoal made by steaming at high temperatures] mixed with another charcoal to get a smokier flavor.” “Our success continues to dazzle us,” said Hahn-Schuman. At full capacity on a Saturday night, they will serve 500 to 600 people. They have high praise for their staff of 37 employees. “We have an amazing group of people and feel blessed to have such a great crew.” Attention to detail at all levels, served in warmly decorated and inviting rooms illuminated by bright orange Japanese lanterns, make a visit to Ramen Gaijin an educational and delicious eating and drinking experience. Open Tuesday through Saturday. Visit for hours and menus. SD



By Evan Wiig photos by Loren Hansen



How to find wild fungi forays and tempting gourmet delicacies


t the entrance of Sonoma County’s oak-speckled Ragle Ranch Park on a crisp December morning, Darvin DeShazer confesses, “It’s like an addiction.” The biologist sports a hat bearing Amanita muscaria, a bright red mushroom with white spots. Set against the forest’s greenery, these cartoonish toadstools elicit holiday cheer. But in times past, this psychoactive fungus held a more spiritual role, from Siberia to Scandinavia to Mesopotamia—some even theorize that Christianity itself evolved from a fertility cult steeped in the toxic consumption of these colorful woodland ornaments. Darvin isn’t much for precarious edibles,

nor does he seem the mystical type. However, his affinity for all things mushroom transcends mere hobby. Darvin starts most days with a mushroom hunt, squeezes in another on his lunch break and, if at all possible, one more before sunset. He once logged over 1,000 fungi forays in a single year. Mystical maybe not; devout, unquestionably. “Okay,” he admits, “it’s not like an addiction; it is an addiction.” The co-founder and scientific advisor to the Sonoma County Mycological Association met me in Ragle Ranch Park to share his passion. After a bit of chit-chat near the park’s entrance, I asked when our treasure hunt would begin. “Well, there’s a few hundred right over there,” he said, pointing. I squinted. Sure enough, not 20 feet away, where before I’d only seen fallen leaves, there suddenly appeared in clear sight


Photos by Sarah Bradbury


a miniature metropolis of what he called Psathyrella, little brown buttons with slender stems. Whatever spiritual force the ancients attributed to these fungi, one thing is certain: a single forage instantly transforms your perception, slows your step, and humbles you to the realization of how little we actually see. Deep beneath our feet, Darvin explained as we began through the park, stretched endless miles of tangled mycelium on which the entire ecology depends while we unknowingly inhale countless fungi spores floating invisibly through the air. Those mushrooms every so often emerging from the surface give us just a momentary glimpse into a far more vast and mysterious kingdom that we humans have only begun to understand. Gourmet Mushrooms

Ten minutes down the road, where forests give way to vineyards on the outskirts of Sebastopol, an unassuming warehouse pays tribute to that same natural phenomenon of life-giving decomposition. At first glance, this 60,000-square-foot facility feels like a factory: big metal vats, plastic crates stacked high, hair-netted employees passing boxes down a conveyer belt. But here, like Darvin, Justin Reyes of Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. waxes poetic about fungi with a reverence not just for their productivity but for the underlying natural process that he and his team have managed to channel into a company that churns out 20,000 pounds of organic food per week. Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. was founded back in the 1970s by Malcolm Clark and David Law after retrofitting an abandoned chicken farm in Sonoma County to grow shiitakes. At the time, aside from the conventional Campbell’s Soup-style variety and dehydrated imports, most Americans were unfamiliar with fresh, specialty mushrooms. Thanks to early pioneers like Gourmet Mushrooms as well as more refined American palates, since then that market has, well, mushroomed. Today, that single facility produces eight species, including clamshell, trumpets and maitake. Our Neolithic diets included foraged mushrooms. But historical records of domestic cultivation date back only a few centuries. In France, early fungiculturalist Louis XIV produced these royal delicacies in caves. Holes were carved in logs, then filled with wood shavings from trees under which mushrooms had been observed. While not quite as romantic as imperial

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caves and far from the forest’s serenity, the system at Gourmet Mushroom is surprisingly reminiscent of Nature’s closed-loop system, a sustainability goal Justin calls “biomimicry.” The sight of thousands of plastic bottles in which their mushrooms grow smacks of petroleum-laden wastefulness—until you learn that some of those bottles are a dozen years old, used over and over and over again to produce copious amounts of food. Byproducts from wood mills and other agricultural production such as oak shavings and corn husks are mixed together and placed into each jug. After each is inoculated with a specific strain of fungi, the jugs are then placed into rooms, each with a temperature and humidity resembling the climate in which that variety naturally thrives. Over time, a web of mycelium—known as hyphae, a subterranean network that can extend for miles in Nature—grows within the confines of the plastic, eventually resembling a bottle of nutmeg-dense eggnog. At last, mushrooms begin to grow from the top. Lopped off and packaged up, these delicacies are then sent directly to grocery stores and restaurants nationwide. As for that eggnog-like mixture? When the bottles get emptied out and reused for the next production cycle, heaps of mycelium-infused, semi-decomposed organic matter remain. But Gourmet Mushroom Inc. has no problem finding a taker for those big piles of “waste.” As Darvin explained to me back in Ragle Ranch Park, hyphae spreads throughout the soil, attaching or entering into the root systems of other plants such as trees. There, they release enzymes that mine for mineral nutrients and water, like root extensions for their host plants. In return, the plants above photosynthesize, turning sunlight into carbohydrates that get sent back down to the fungi. Symbiosis at its finest. Which is why a local company is happy to retrieve Gourmet Mushrooms’ waste by the ton, transforming it into top-notch, organic soil amendments rich in microbiology that can increase the yield and health of other agricultural products. As for sustainability in the face of California’s enduring drought, Justin claims that each pound of mushrooms produced at their facility requires just 8 to 10 gallons of water. Compare that to 34 for broccoli, 141 for avocados, 302 for tofu, and a whopping 1,929 for almonds. 24

So why bother foraging?

To Darvin the answer is clear: wild foraging connects you to the natural world, hones your senses and leaves you in awe of a prolific kingdom comprising more than 5 million species—from gastronomic to lethal, common molds to evolutionary marvels like the parasitic cordyceps that can literally hypnotize animals to do their bidding. “Also, foraged mushrooms just taste better,” he says. And while some varieties take to domestication more easily, others remain more difficult to tame—porcinis, chanterelles and truffles, to name a few. But Darvin is a fan of Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. too. Because while it’s tough to compete with Nature’s kitchen, the advantages of domestic production are many: year-round availability, local production of varieties otherwise only found thousands of miles away and, most of all, there’s no limit on supply. Which, to Darvin, is a big deal. Until a few decades ago, 166 public parks in California permitted mushroom foraging for personal use. Commercial foraging, on the other hand, has always been limited to private property. But that didn’t stop black market foragers leaving state and national parks with sometimes thousands of dollars’ worth of goods. By the 1990s, with the demand for specialty mushrooms on the rise, California banned foraging in all but one park: Salt Point, 6,000 acres of fogsteeped forests on the northern coast of Sonoma County. Abundant in the tree species that summon edible mushrooms—Douglas-fir, madrone and live oak—this mycologist’s paradise is so productive that visitors here are allowed to carry out up to three pounds of foraged fungi. Appreciative of this unique local gem, Darvin still bemoans what he calls “the tragedy of no commons.” Foraging, he claims, does little harm to the forest’s abundance; pulling a mushroom is akin to picking an apple from a tree and can actually help spread spores. These prohibitions, he says, don’t stop black market foragers, but it does keep the public from experiencing one of Nature’s greatest wonders. Each month, Darvin leads a group from the Sonoma County Mycological Association (SOMA) on a hunt to Salt Point. SOMA is a non-profit group dedicated to learning about local mushrooms, and educating the public about the vast and diverse world of fungi. They sponsor a variety of mushroom-related activities as well as

services such as free emergency mushroom identification. Each January, hundreds of enthusiasts—from scientists to chefs to amateurs who’ve caught fungi fever—gather in Occidental for SOMA Camp. This jampacked, three-day event offers activities, lectures, and workshops all focused on wild mushrooms. And, of course, it concludes with a massive post-forage feast featuring the forest’s bounty. So what’s next in the world of mushrooms? Quite a lot, it seems. While Darvin is busy identifying new wild species and Justin’s team continues adding new varieties to their production line—morels and lion’s mane are on their way—the myolical frontier is flourishing, gastronomically and beyond. Wyatt Bryson of Mycolab Solutions, based in western Sonoma County, recently introduced his newest product, an addicting vegan jerky made of mushrooms he calls Jewels of the Forest. Innovators elsewhere are busy exploring the potential of mycelium-based leather, protein drinks and medicine. Environmentalists and scientists are even exploring strains that can soak up heavy metals and toxins from the soil, remediate oil spills, filter bacteria from drinking water and break down plastics just as they do organic material on the forest floor. “We’ve barely scratched the surface,” says Justin, who attends conferences on the emerging field of Mushroom Tech when not busy at work producing edibles. “So much is possible. It’s an industry that’s about to explode.” Darvin, on the other hand, seems content with Nature’s innovation. Newbies on a forage, he says, always annoy him with the same question over and over: Can I eat this? But after a while, those questions expand. “Mushrooms make you inquisitive,” he says. “Soon enough, not only are you looking for chanterelles and porcini, but also for salamanders, animal tracks, all the other interconnections of the forest. And the thrill of the hunt, there’s just nothing like it.” SD

OF NOTE To learn details about upcoming wild mushroom forays, meetings and more, go to If you think someone, including your dog, may have eaten a poisonous mushroom, contact Darvin DeShazer for emergency identification, 707-829-0526; email photo to

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Brandon Matthies and Christopher Matthies, Sonoma Brothers Distilling

The Independent Spirits of Artisan Alley by Marcy Gordon Photos by Loren Hansen


few blocks off the Windsor Town green, in a quiet warehouse zone on Bell Road, there’s something special going on—The Artisan Alley Beverage District. Like the house of artistic hepcats that threw the best parties in college, the Artisan Alley collective has attracted a group of cool people, making cool things—and best of all those cool things are wine, spirits and cider—the triumvirate of adult beverages. The group of on-site beverage


makers includes Colagrossi Wines, Tilted Shed Ciderworks, Sonoma Brothers Distilling, Two Shepherds Wine, and coming soon, the Barley and Bine Beer Café. It’s a one-stop made-onsite tasting room experience not to be missed. Tilted Shed Ciderworks

Scott Heath and Ellen Cavalli have backgrounds in fine arts and publishing, but their interest in the back-to-theland movement and a desire to connect with people through agricultural products led them to

Winemaker Craig Colagrossi, Colagrossi Wines

open Tilted Shed Ciderworks. “We are very inquisitive and slightly impetuous. We like to read and research and dig deep, so we started to read books on cider and cider apples and then one thing led to another and it just became an obsession,” says Cavalli. Tilted Shed Ciderworks was the first cider tasting room in Sonoma County to take a wine tasting room approach to the ciders. They also hold sensory training and seminars for their cider club members, cider professionals and enthusiasts. “For us it is about expressing the apple and showing what Sonoma county means in terms of cider. It’s a wonderful thing to explore. That’s why we do what we do!” states Cavalli. And what they do is thoroughly delicious. Each year they work with up to 60 different varieties of apples (all organic, if not certified) to make five core ciders including Graviva, Inclinado, Smoked, Barred Rock, and Lost Orchard. In 2016 their first Estate Blend was made using 16 varieties from their own farm. Cider club members get first access to all releases and exclusive experimental batches called cider studies. For every cider, Heath presses and ferments the varieties separately and then blends together to form final batches. For Heath and Cavalli, Artisan Alley provides a source of strength and community with the challenges of running a small

business. Tilted Shed, like all the other members of Artisan Alley, has no employees. “We borrow tables and chairs from Craig Colagrossi for our seminars and he borrows our forklift. We look to help each other out all the time and really root for each other’s success; it’s great.” Suggested Sip: Lost Orchard Dry Cider— This dry-aged cider made with apples sourced from abandoned orchards has a through-line of crisp yet creamy baked apple flavors with great balance and a steely finish. Colagrossi Wines

Craig Colagrossi first started making wine at home in 1995 and then began making wine commercially in 2009. Known for his Italian varietals such as Sangiovese and Barbera, he also makes Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot as single varietals and for blending options. “I was given advice early on to make wines that are true to you, don’t follow trends or chase the customer. Make what you like and the customers will find you,” says Colagrossi. “We present a niche for the wine drinker that wants a small crafted experience.” Colagrossi exudes friendliness and much like his wines, he, too, is warm, approachable and accessible. Tastings at the micro-winery are rarely standard. “I like to be informal, we don’t have a cookie-cutter tasting experience – depending

on what the customer is interested in, we may barrel taste or even do some blending. It’s always different. I keep it fun and like to add some educational aspect depending on what’s going on that week.” As we spoke, and as if on cue, Scott Heath of Tilted Shed wandered in to borrow a table and chairs. Very much like a dorm room atmosphere, the camaraderie of Artisan Alley is plainly evident. “I have a de-stemmer and a fruit scale that everyone uses and we all share equipment. It’s like a family, it’s very convivial. We are an eclectic group; adventurous and hardworking seems to be the common thread.” Suggested Sip: 2015 Sangiovese—Grapes from Unti Vineyards in Dry Creek are used in this lush and juicy wine with a deep earthiness and rich fruit flavors. Sonoma Brothers

The Sonoma Brothers small-batch spirits program is focused on grain-to-glass and fruit-to-glass distilling, using as much local fruit and grains as they can source and all-organic botanicals. The brothers, Chris and Brandon Matthies, born and raised in Sonoma, operate the distillery despite working full-time—Chris is a fireman in Santa Rosa and Brandon is a police officer. Inspired by their uncle’s olive oil company, Olivier Napa Valley, they got the bug for a starting a small business.


“We grew up here and we wanted to bring something unique to the area. At the time there were only about three distilleries in the area, but now it’s a growing trend and we are right in there growing along with it. We were one of the first small distilleries in the area,” says Chris. “Nothing is automated, we do everything by hand. Everything we do is small batch and slow in small barrel and single-barrel lots, each batch numbered,” adds Brandon. Their current offerings of gin, vodka, bourbon, rye and apple brandy can be sampled and purchased in their sleek barnchic tasting room with rustic wood panels and corrugated tin shed siding. Dogs Max and Bailey add a relaxed and welcoming vibe. Sonoma Brothers aim to change the minds of those who think they don’t like a particular spirit and illuminate what a true handcrafted spirit can be via guided tastings and an educational experience that helps bring new consumers along. “Many of our customers come for the wine or cider and then see us here and want to learn more about us.” says Brandon. “It’s a great advantage to be situated with a group of like-minded individuals and businesses at Artisan Alley. Collaboration is huge, we did some apple brandy this year and Scott from Tilted Shed helped us press them. We all share a belief in a high level of craftsmanship.” Suggested Sip: Barrel Aged Bourbon. This smooth sipper has smoky char notes and flavors of vanilla, caramel and cherry. (Add a shot to your morning coffee!) Two Shepherds Wine

William Allen and Karen Daenen (featured in Sonoma Discoveries June/July 2016 issue) continue to grow their business and collect accolades for their mostly Rhône collection of wines. A chalkboard with a lengthy list of grapes and vineyard names (all now crossed off) is a testament to their ambitious 2016 harvest season. Two Shepherds’ offerings have expanded to include some customcrush, private-label winemaking ventures and some new very small lot wines such as Pinot Meunier. Blends continue to be popular and their 2014 Pastoral Mélange red blend features Mourvedre, Syrah, Carignan and Roussanne. Arya, an Australian Shepherd and director of hospitality, welcomes tasting room visitors. People are encouraged to bring their own dogs along to frolic with Arya while they taste. 28

Distillery dogs Bailey and Max

For Two Shepherds, the atmosphere of Artisan Alley suits the digThe Barley and Bine Beer Café (slated to be up and running by in and make-it-happen approach they already employ. “The sense of June 2017) will be a family-friendly café serving upscale pub food. camaraderie here and the spirit of cooperation is critical to what we The menu will consist of soups, sandwiches, chili, mac and cheese do,” says Allen. with special house-beer cheese sauce, and a charcuterie plate. Although the concept for Artisan Alley was While not an actually brewery, the main draw already under discussion when Two Shepherds of Barley and Bine Beer Café will be unique beers RESOURCES arrived in July of 2015, Allen’s marketing you can’t get anywhere else. At least half the background helped organize the formal group beers will be local and the rest will be rare, hardTilted Shed Ciderworks meetings and agendas, and established the lead in to-find brews. getting the logo and website finalized. “We will carry small quantities of hyper“People pitch in where they can with various exclusive beers in cans and bottles. When it’s Colagrossi Wines skills. All of us are overwhelmed with two lives, gone, it’s gone,” says Reitz. “We’ll also have half of us have kids to boot, but it works because 28 beers on draft, along with wine from Two we all cooperate and get along and have seen that Shepherds and Colagrossi, and a cider from Sonoma Brothers we all benefit from collaboration.” Tilted Shed on tap.” Suggested Sip: 2014 Pastoral Mélange, a Windsor on the Beverage Edge Forefront red blend (50% Mourvedre, 17% Syrah, 17% Two Shepherds Windsor is gaining cachet with those in the Carignan, 16% Roussanne), light and delicious bev-know. With high-profile brewers like Barrel with bright red fruit flavors. Brothers nearby, and Russian River Brewing Co. Barley and Bine Beer Café Barley and Bine Beer Café arriving soon, the city is on the cusp of becoming Fate and synchronicity led beer aficionados and a destination for the beverage class. And Artisan Healdsburg natives Lindsay Osborne and Jeff Alley is poised as a model for future dreamers Reitz to Artisan Alley. After living in Portland and beverage makers to come. The collective they saw the possibilities for what a craft beer business could look shines a light on what can be accomplished—via true love, true like. They returned to Sonoma and decided to make their business passion and true risk. a reality. While out scouting for a location, they randomly met “I could not have dreamt of a better situation than here,” says winemaker Craig Colagrossi at Oliver’s taproom. Intrigued by Colagrossi. “It’s very inspiring to be in a place where so many people Colagrossi’s Artisan Alley t-shirt, they struck up a conversation. Beer are diligently acting on their dreams and making them come true.” SD was the missing link at Artisan Alley; two days later they met with the landlord to see the space and signed a lease.



Photos by Loren Hansen

FLOWER FARMS The growing, sustainable blooms business brings fresh flowers to locals who love them

By Kimberly Kaido-Alvarez


I’ve been blessed with many bouquets, but it’s the ones spontaneously presented to me when my three sons were little that I hold closest to my heart. My oldest, at about age six, told me that I was as pretty as a Firecracker rose. I’ve never forgotten that, and on some of my worst bad hair days, I often hear that little voice and those words. The Firecracker rose is a burst of exciting colors, a trio of red, orange, yellow and white. The name of the rose is quite appropriate, like so many other titles given to flowers. Bachelor buttons, forget-me-nots, naked ladies and other charming names really get the imagination going and can conjure up some interesting images. Zoe Hitchner, flower program manager at Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg, put it in a nutshell: “Flowers are a sentimental thing for people and invoke memories.” She went on to explain that it’s especially the scents of flowers that have a special way of reminding one of their childhood, grandmother or a number of other experiences.

Saying it with Flowers

Flowers rank pretty high on the scale of significance, if there were such a thing. They’ve been used throughout the centuries, in every known culture, to mark milestone events and make meaningful offerings to humans, gods and lovers. We honor the birth of a baby with flowers, the death of a loved one, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, performances; we adorn our homes, our hair, our dinner tables, our backyards and especially our wedding celebrations with flowers. Sometimes flowers speak when we can’t find the words—or the right words, anyway. “We say thank you with flowers, we say I love you with flowers, we say so much with flowers,” said Hitchner, who added, “I’m inspired by the way flowers allow me to connect with people.” North Bay Flower Collective

Sonoma County is home to a good number of flower farms, and many of the passionate growers wearing those rubber boots are members of the North Bay Flower Collective. This inspiring group 32

aims to work collaboratively, instead of competitively, to support the local flower economy and bring fresh local flowers to those living and visiting the North San Francisco Bay Area. Sharing resources and educational opportunities and employing sustainable practices are just a few of the North Bay Flower Collective’s core values. Their website lists many of the key players in Sonoma County’s floral business and other valuable information for those interested in learning more about flower farmers and florists. Dragonfly Farm

Although new flower farms are breaking ground in Sonoma County, Dragonfly Farm founder Bonnie Z was one of the first to bring the crop back during a period of grape monoculture about 25 years ago. There’s no doubt that Dragonfly Farm in Healdsburg has been an

inspiration for some new flower farmers in Sonoma County. Bonnie Z treasures the way that flowers have connected her with the community in a very intimate way, spanning over generations of local families. Working the farm everyday, Z shows no signs of slowing down. Her love of gardens and fresh flowers and foliage has given birth to more than one garden in her lifetime. A charming plot in Point Richmond is where it all started, yielding cherished memories with her daughter Carlisle Degischer. Today Degischer is also a floral designer and a business partner with her mother at Dragonfly Farm. The Point Richmond garden was “a wonderland for kids and everything was edible,” said Z, who applied similar characteristics to Dragonfly Farm. Today Z often tackles her daily duties with a different little one by her side, a grandson, and so the treasured pattern repeats.

Kids and adults of all ages find Dragonfly magical, and visitors are encouraged to walk around and stay a while. Dragonfly Farm, established in 1990, is a floral leader in Sonoma County, creating arrangements for more than 150 weddings and events a year. Floral arrangements for hotels, wineries and restaurants are distributed regularly, and the talented staff touts over a century of combined experience. Early leader in alternative agriculture

Busting out flower arrangements has never been the goal at Dragonfly Farm, whereas, increasing the vitality of the land has been. “It was a monoculture of grapes when I arrived here,” said Z, who often expressed her concern about some of the common practices at the time. “There were a lot of chemicals being used,” explained Z, who helped to usher in the alternative agriculture


movement in Sonoma County. Originally planned for vegetables, Dragonfly Farm quickly morphed into fields of flowers that would help heal the soil and restore bird and insect populations. “Flowers are special because they increase diversity and attract pollinators and birds,” said Z. She employed cutting-edge concepts, like the Australian flow hive (a method to extract honey from hives in a gentle way), which have since become more popular locally. “There are a lot of different kinds of bees here,” she said, adding that moths keep the pollinating going even after the sun goes down. “There’s so much activity, even at night.” Today the farm is a busy hub of activity for pollinators, birds, wildlife and people, but Z still continues to study, using the Internet as a tool to take her research and farming practices to new heights. “It used to be that there wasn’t a lot of information, except in books. Today the easy access to information benefits farmers tremendously,” said Z, who is currently trying out a new mound system called Hugelkultur, pronounced “Hoogle Culture” (that doesn’t favor tilling


the soil). Soil building has been a backbone of Z’s farming style and continues to be a strong area of interest. Flower School at Dragonfly Farm

Z began sharing her knowledge years ago by offering classes at Dragonfly Farm, but it was when Lead Designer/Instructor Pam Bell came on the scene that the floral education program really took off. A charming barn at Dragonfly Farm is dedicated to the flower school, and a list of carefully selected, monthly design classes attract adult enthusiasts and professionals of all ages. With Mother Nature as the guide, Bell’s menu of classes promises to inspire and deliver a meaningful experience. “Peonies in all their Glory,” “Garden Roses and Field Flowers” and “Designing with Dahlias–Dancing with the Sacred” are just a few of the classes that she will offer this year. A full list of classes is posted on the Dragonfly Farm website with a description and other relevant details. Bell also offers a flower farm tour, visiting a number of other local flower farmers in the Sonoma County area. One stop is Front Porch

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Farm, also in Healdsburg, where Dragonfly sends a lot of their Do-it-Yourself (DIY) bridal customers. Front Porch Farm

Front Porch Farm offers a treat for DIY brides; a bucket of bulk blooms features the season’s freshest, top-quality flowers. From there, brides can build their own bouquets for their special day. Event design services are also available at Front Porch Farm and arrangements are described as wild and romantic. About 20 acres of the 110-acre farm is in production with olives, grains, vegetables, Client: Molsberry Run date: 12-31-15 fruit, winegrapes and flower plots. About Ad title/slug: 1/6 resize four acres is dedicated to flowers, which Returned approval due by: ASAP are sold locally and seasonally at SHED in Scheduled to run in: Disco 12-31-15 Healdsburg and at California Sister Floral Please check this proof carefully for errors and omis- Design & Supply in Sebastopol. Front Porch


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Farm also sells flowers directly to local florists. Heirloom and unique old-fashioned varieties of flowers are a highlight. “Some of the really old varieties are more true to the original characteristic of the flower; for example, it might be really fragrant,” explained Hitchner. Snapdragons, sweet peas, hibiscus, Icelandic poppies and ranunculus are some of the early bloomers at Front Porch Farm that will be the first to hit the market in spring. Front Porch Farm holds events throughout the year and offers tours by appointment. Full Bloom Farm

Located in Sebastopol, Full Bloom Farm is a resource for organic, bee-friendly, diversity-rich flowers. Farmer/Owner Hedda Brorstrom grows more than 200 different

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varieties and is a leader in the industry, offering workshops, collaboration and farm tours for groups. Wedding flowers are her specialty and she offers full-service design, and also DIY buckets. With a knack for thinking “outside the box”—or vase, rather—mandalas and wall hangings are just a few offerings this cutting-edge florist/farmer brings to life’s most cherished celebrations. “Wearables,” like flower necklaces, bracelets and hats, are yet another option. “They are fun and interactive,” said Brorstrom, noting that the farm-grown blooming jewelry tends to be a conversation piece at events. Serenity Flower Farm

Serenity Flower Farm is new to Sonoma County, and 2017 will mark the second season for this trio of family members. Annika Avila, brother Josiah Patton and sister-in-law Kellie Patton always talked about farming together, and last year they made that dream a reality. The group combined their diverse skills to produce supreme quality flowers, and they sell flowers directly to the public and florists. “We’re all avid gardeners with green thumbs,” said Avila, who added, “We like to play in the dirt.” Dahlias are one of Serenity Farm’s specialties. “They grow very well in our climate,” said Avila, who values the diversity within the dahlia species. “They come in almost every color, shape and size range, from a tiny little pincushion flower to a large ruffled and fluffy flower.”

Creative and vibrant arrangements composed of dried flowers are also a proud project and focus for this farm. California Sister

California Sister Floral Design and Supply in Sebastopol, founded by Nichole Skalski and in its second year running, works with neighboring farms to offer fresh flowers and gifts for sale at The Barlow. As a member of the North Bay Flower Collective, they offer workshops for florists and enthusiasts. Co-owner Kathrin Green said the first year of business “ran very successfully,” so successfully that a little reorganization had to take place this year. The wholesale Sonoma Flower Mart (formerly located in the back of the California Sister shop at The Barlow) will move to Santa Rosa and be run by farmers this year. “We grew faster than we thought,” said Green, who was impressed by the big demand for local flowers. Local Love

So it looks like Sonoma County has yet another agricultural claim to fame: local flowers. It makes sense that people would appreciate the option of supporting local farms in this endeavor that adds diversity to the Sonoma County landscape, therefore serving future generations. Although there’s nothing like a backyard handful of flowers picked by our young sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren, it’s a good bet that a local bouquet can serve as a treasured reminder of those sweetest expressions of love. SD

RESOURCES California Sisters Floral Design & Supply Dragonfly Farm Front Porch Farm (visitors by appointment only) Full Bloom Farm (tours for groups and by appointment only) North Bay Flower Collective Serenity Flower Farm (not open to visitors)


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Discover the Indian Warriors, Shooting Stars and other native species in our midst

By Kimberly Kaido-Alvarez photos by Sarah Bradbury

Lupine along the Sonoma Coast


In the hallway, at my Great Aunt’s house, there was a beautiful picture of an Indian woman dressed in traditional attire. “That’s the Indian Squaw in our family,” I was told. Nobody said much more and I didn’t think to ask. It took me years to realize just what that woman meant to me and how she affected the culture of our family.

Early spring was a time of adventure for our family as we all piled into the back of trucks and jeeps (this was before the days of seatbelts) for an Easter picnic outside the town of Healdsburg in the hills of Dry Creek Valley. Winding up to what seemed like the heavens, a panoramic view of open meadows and various plots of wildflowers—a carpet of red here, a sea of purple there—was breathtaking. Once we finally made it to the “homestead” (I’m not sure how we ever found it), my Great Aunt would lead us on walks, naming all the plants as we went along. Many of them were wildflowers, and she’d point out what was edible and what was not. She also identified medicinal and poisonous plants. Sometimes we gathered flowers and greens (miner’s lettuce, she called it) and made a salad that would be enjoyed along with the other foods we brought from home. I learned it was possible to live off that land, and this is what my great grandparents had done… in a tent on that very property. Although this was a long time ago, it still wasn’t exactly normal, so I like to think “it was that Indian squaw” in the family who had colored their perspective. Just for the record, my great grandparents did move to the town of Healdsburg once they started a family, but the tradition of traveling to that remote property, year after year for Easter, remained intact. Those hills offered plenty of adventure and other sights and experiences but it was the sprawling meadows that etched their identity in my heart and mind forever. These were the kind of landscapes that just make you stop in your tracks. Although those meadows of wildflowers look so peaceful, quiet and serene from the sidelines, a trek through the heart of it all reveals a busy hub of activity with butterflies, bees, jackrabbits, birds and even grazing

deer. At least that has been my experience, and I believe meadows like this have the power to initiate a deep sense of gratitude and wellbeing. Biologically every cell in the body screams, “All is well, there’s beauty and magic in the world!” This may also be known as spring fever. I’m not the only one moved by a special walk in nature. Liza Brickley Weaver, founder of Sunrise Walkers in Sebastopol, values similar experiences and gathers with others to walk at sunrise at various locations throughout Sonoma County. “When you walk together like this, there is a bonding that happens. It’s an ancient tradition to walk towards sacred sights together,” said Weaver, who leads Vernal Equinox walks annually. “California has more plant diversity than most other states,” said Botanical Consultant and former National and State Parks ecologist Peter Warner, who leads wildflower walks in Sonoma County. It’s no secret that people travel here from near and far to admire the natural landscape on bikes, wine roads, horses, hiking trails and so much more. Wildflowers are a focal point of the Sonoma County canvas, dressing up vineyards with yellow mustard flowers and lining the roadsides with bright orange California poppies. Unassuming heritage roadways offer a diversity of showstoppers in the wildflower department, if your timing is just right and you know where to look. Warner does, and some of his favorite spots in the months of March and April include: * Kortum Trail, Sonoma Coast State Beach * Pinnacle Gulch, trailhead in Bodega Harbour subdivision, Bodega Bay * Jenner Headlands (which is not open to the public, but The Wildlands Conservancy offers public guided hikes)


Western Iris are among the wildflowers growing near Sonoma Coast beaches.

* Austin Creek State Recreation Area * Lake Sonoma trails Warner has mapped the vegetation and performed biological inventories for Austin Creek State Recreation Area and others parks in Sonoma County and beyond. It’s curiosity that keeps him coming back for more. “I’m always looking for something new,” he said. What he appreciates about Austin Creek State Recreation Area is the diversity of grassland and various habitats that support different groups of plant species. It also has a lot of wide open space, so there is room for a big display. According to Warner, what impresses people most about wildflower viewing is the size or range of the display. Although size matters, what always seems to amaze me is the vibrancy of color— and the arrangement. The way Mother Nature might combine purple lupine with orange poppies or the emergence of dainty white milkmaids that brighten a dark forest of West Sonoma County sometimes as early as November. The amount of rainfall can play a significant role in the quality as well as the length of time the flowers stay in bloom. An Ecological Island

Due to its climate, coastal influence and topography, Sonoma County is unique. “It’s somewhat of an ecological island,” said Warner, who explained that Sonoma County mimics the state with a representation of 40 percent of plant species. Sonoma County’s diversity of soil types and microclimates not only make for good winegrapes and a plethora of produce, it opens 42

the door to a wide range of wildflowers. Coastal hills, valleys, big river alluvial basins, redwood forests and oak groves each offer a unique soil composition featuring varying levels of minerals and nutrients, not to mention differences in temperature and light. Semisecret places, like “The Cedars,” are home to plant species not found anywhere else in the world. While this destination is not open to the public, there are a few groups leading tours in the area. I told Warner one of my favorite wildflowers is purple lupine, and he asked, “Which one?” I quickly learned that there are more than 20 different species in California alone. His favorite Lupine is called Sky Lupine. “I like it because it smells like grape Kool-Aid, and I grew up on that stuff,” he said. Family Adventures

Wildflowers are something that can be fun for the whole family, especially kids, who are inquisitive and natural explorers. The experiences of roaming the woodlands, hillside and riverbanks as a child tend to implant on the brain—becoming writing topics, relaxation exercises or places we vow to share with others as adults. Take The Buttercup Game, for example. The simple fun of picking this shimmering golden wildflower and holding it under the chin to “see if the person likes butter” is a timeless tradition that never gets old. Apparently everyone likes butter. People who like plants usually have a favorite wildflower and, for Warner, that flower was actually a “hook” that sold him on a botanical career. It was a plant called “Indian Warrior” but his reasons for loving it went well beyond its dramatic name and intense

WILDFLOWER HIKES The Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods offers the following hikes. For details, contact Jazzy Dingler, 707-869-9177 ext. 1# or go online to March 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Austin Creek with Peter Warner California poppies and lupine are some of the wildflowers that Botanical Consultant Peter Warner points out during a walk on the Kortum Trail. Warner is treasured for his knowledge about land and plants and leads botanical field trips throughout the state.

maroon color. “It photosynthesizes on its own, and it’s a semi-parasitic plant (part of the Heath family) that developed a relationship with the huckleberry,” he said. Well, this is definitely more advanced thinking than The Buttercup Game, and the moral of the story is that some native plants and wildflowers depend on one another for survival. Today’s generation of kids may not have the same opportunities to frolic in the wildflower meadows simply due to rural development and habitat loss, so the relationships between plants is an important concept to grasp for conservationists and scientists. People like the late Bill Kortum, environmental activist and founder of the Kortum Trail, have worked hard for the preservation of open space where wildflowers grow. Louise Hallberg is another local authority that has dedicated much of her life to learning and sharing not only about native plants and wildflowers but native pollinators—another relationship that can’t be overlooked when it comes to wildflower preservation. Our beloved wildflowers simply wouldn’t exist without the equally adorned pollinators. It’s really quite romantic. Thousands of school-age children have visited Hallberg’s Butterfly Garden to learn about the connection between plants, pollination, wildlife and butterflies. “Over the years I’ve been very saddened to see the loss of so much wild

habitat and wildflowers around this area,” said Hallberg, a member of the California Native Plant Society since 1960. Her hope is to inspire the next generations’ interest in native habitats and wildlife. Hallberg’s favorite wildflowers are ones that attract butterflies. Not a surprise. She likes honeysuckle, asters, stinging nettle, lupine, native milkweed, baby blue eyes, five spot, mallows, sticky monkey bush, coyote bush, and ocean spray, just to name a few. If wide open spaces and pollinators don’t provide a hook strong enough to snag your interest in a wildflower tour, then perhaps the “name nerds” will. I did not come up with the term, but I use it affectionately, along with Warner, who has awarded himself the title. I can relate. The names of wildflowers are indeed interesting, some of them genius, in fact, and you’ll know for sure you are a “name nerd” when those eclectic titles stick with you. Inspired by the walks with my aunt, I did a science fair project that required collecting the various flowers, identifying them and then pressing them in books. I’m not sure why I didn’t use photos, but to this day I still remember the fun names of many wildflowers, like buttercups, shooting stars, forget-me-knots, Indian Warrior, cowslips and more. By the way, the shooting stars really look like shooting stars. SD

April 23, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Wonders of East Austin Creek for Intrepid Hikers with Dr. Laura Morgan (challenging) May 13, 9:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Introduction to the Coastal Prairie (Shell Beach) with Jim Coleman June 3, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wildflowers of the Sonoma Coast (Shell Beach) with Peter Warner Liza Weaver Bricker offers Vernal Equinox Sunrise Walks along the Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail. Dates are March 18 through 20, when the light of the day is equal to the darkness of the night. Meet 15 minutes before sunrise. For more information, visit FIND YOUR OWN WILDFLOWERS Sonoma County’s Regional Parks feature trails and meadows full of native plants and wildflowers throughout spring. Some local favorites are Shiloh Ranch (Healdsburg), Riverfront (Windsor), Foothill (Windsor) and Ragle Ranch (Sebastopol). A few of Sonoma County’s heritage roadways also feature showstopping wildflower displays in May through June. Sweetwater Springs Road, King Ridge Road and Stewarts Point Road can be breathtakingly wild and beautiful.



Pouring His Art Out Patrick Miller’s life revolved around animation until it became set in stone by Patricia M. Roth Photos by Sarah Bradbury


nside Bohemian Stoneworks’ 8,000-square-foot warehouse located on Depot Street in Sebastopol, concrete is mixed and poured into custom-made molds, then wet- and dry-sanded to perfection before being sealed. It’s a place where science and art intersect— where a material that is used to build skyscrapers, highways and the common sidewalk shapeshifts into singular items of unique beauty. Founder Patrick Miller stops at workstations to explain the steps he and his team of artisans take when making concrete countertops and much more for homes and high-end businesses. “You’ve got to keep your finger on the science,” he said. “If you get too creative without understanding what is happening to the matrix of the concrete, you could create something beautiful that will crack and not wear.” So here’s the science: “Concrete is a mixture of cement, sand, aggregate and water. Cement does not dry, it cures; and curing (hydration) is the growing of rock crystals that surround and encase the sand and aggregate in the mix. Because concrete starts in a liquid or plastic state, it can flow into forms to take on their shapes,” Miller said.


In a wonderful act of synchronicity, Patrick Miller and his father C. Eugene Miller (pictured) both worked on the same house project, the Butterfly House in Carmel (previous page), 61 years apart from each other.

photo by Sarah Bradbury

The shapes can be complex, not only for customized countertops but also for products like fireplace fronts, mantels and hearths; bathroom vanities and showers; furniture; outdoor kitchens; fire bowls and flowform water features. And here’s the art: Projects begin with a customized storyboard and template designed for each client, then proceed through carefully managed stages that lead ultimately to installation. There are artistic elements, color palettes, sand mixes, custom blending and finishes from which to choose. Objects can also be sliced and embedded into designs. These have included abalone shells resembling raindrops for a residential shower at Sea Ranch, oyster shells for seafood restaurant countertops, river rock handpicked by a family for their fireplace, coins chosen for the birth years of grandchildren, sea shells and all kinds of colored glass and aggregate. As Miller watches an artisan polish countertops for a kitchen in a Petaluma home, he points out the colorful stones that are being revealed in the wheatcolored concrete. The homeowner was able to choose the pigment and aggregate from a library of samples featuring more than 800 combinations. “Something that I learned early on was that you can grind down into concrete and reveal what is inside. What I have discovered by doing this in a very subtle way—easing in and out of the deeper grind—is that you can bring some natural-looking nuances into the piece,” Miller said. “Polishing the pieces in subtle and unique ways makes them look more like a thing of nature.” Once an avid fisherman, Miller spent a lot of time near Sierra Nevada streams and the Bodega coast, where he was drawn to the designs of the natural world. “I think it comes back to me. A lot of time when I am polishing something, it’s not just about the look but also about the feel, being smooth and weather-worn; and then the shapes of nature, like in leaves and animal skeletons—something about the spatial ratios and curves—they always inspire me.” Projects and Showroom

The company’s showroom offers a place to imagine. Here, samples and


photographs of products bearing the Bohemian Stoneworks’ stamp are on view. They shine a light on the artistry of Miller and his team. Along one wall: vanities with countertops that flow seamlessly into custom-made sinks. Along another: one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. For instance, one tabletop contains slices of wine bottles. “I cut the bottles in all different angles to simulate a fossil stone and we left some of the edges,” Miller said, adding that he’d seen furniture with winebottle art in magazines, but the effect was too obvious. “I though it would be great if I could create a piece that looked like someone had thrown a bunch of bottles in a landfill, then a million years went by and someone came and cut a slice out of it.

“We did countertops with embedded oyster shells for Hog Island Oyster Bar in the ferry building in San Francisco,” Miller said. The job included a U-shaped oyster bar and tasting bar countertops with oyster shell slices from the original Hog island oyster farm. “The owner of King’s Seafood Co., a large restaurant company, saw it and tracked us down,” Miller added. “We did their new Water Grill Costa Mesa Restaurant in September and just finished the new Water Grill in Dallas.” In December, Bohemian Stoneworks completed a custom job for Vicki Vaughn and Jason Stevens, owners of a 1920’s farmhouse north of Sebastopol. “We chose his color called slate grey for our kitchen

countertops, a nook in the laundry room and the hearth under our wood stove. We asked him to polish it for the hearth and expose the aggregate more. We liked the idea that the aggregate came right from the Russian River. It’s gorgeous,” said Vaughn, adding, “Patrick was super on time. He spells everything out very clearly and delivered within the time he stated. It’s nice to be able to plan and count on that.” In February, Miller’s team began work on a large new winery project in the Alexander Valley for which they are making 17 bathroom vanities and wall panels. Other clients have already put in orders for outdoor kitchens. In the back of Bohemian Stoneworks’ warehouse, a demonstration garden

Patrick Miller stands in front of the Bohemian Stoneworks in Sebastopol. Joshua Blatt uses a water polisher to reveal the aggregate on a countertop. Photos by Sarah Bradbury


showcases flowform water features. Developed by John Wilkes, a sculptor and mathematician inspired by Rudulf Steiner, flowforms use a figure-eight pattern that folds oxygen into the water and are said to be beneficial for agriculture and the elevation of mood and energy. “Biodynamic vineyards are interested in these for clarifying water for their ponds, and for making compost tea for preparations they spray on the vines,” Miller said. Flowforms are used in other spaces, too, ranging from offices to therapeutic settings. From High-tech to Hands-on

Before starting his business, Miller worked in motion capture for animation. “I ended up going to Japan and working with Nintendo, Sony, and then the movie industry took off and we did Casper and Shrek. The final movies I worked on were the last two Matrix movies. We were selling these systems throughout the world, and a lot of studios were setting up studios in China and Malaysia, so I was over there a lot training people.” The position required constant travel but it enabled Miller to build his home in Occidental; that’s when he discovered the subtle beauty of concrete countertops. He read about Buddy Rhodes, the “father of concrete countertops,” and got hooked. “They were very expensive at the time, so I mentioned it to my father (C. Eugene Miller), who was a retired civil engineer specializing in concrete. He got me started with basic formulas and procedures.” From there, Miller studied numerous technical articles that led to the ultra-performance

concrete he now uses and, later, the green practices he has incorporated into his business. After filling his home to his heart’s delight with custom concrete of his own making, Miller worked on friends’ houses on weekends and did the West Pole restaurant (now Hazel Restaurant) in Occidental. He was still flying around the world, but “all I could think about was coming home and working on concrete and my house.” And so he did, becoming a full-time concrete artisan in 2002. He set up shop in his garage, then relocated to a former turkey ranch at Dillon Beach, before bringing on employees and moving into a building located next to The Barlow in his hometown of Sebastopol in 2008. His landlord, Sebastopol native Howard Miller (no relation) owns the historic 1920’s-era building—and Patrick credits him for giving him a hand by lowering his rent during the recession. Howard formerly operated out of the same space when he and his dad owned the Miller Door and Cabinet Company. Today, Bohemian Stoneworks continues to grow. Miller said he has little competition and 80 percent repeat customers. “A lot of the repeat customers come here because we are known for making a stone in a custom way that you cannot get anywhere else… The best compliment we can get is: ‘Oh my god, it’s better than I had imagined,’” Miller said.

Like Father, Like Son

Looking back, Miller reflects on one of his favorite memories. “We were asked to do this house in Carmel during the recession, and it was a good project for us even though there were long trips involved. Then on Father’s Day in 2010, my dad asked what exciting projects I was working on. “‘Oh, funny you should ask,’” I said. “‘We just finished this beautiful house called the Butterfly House.’ His eyes lit up and he said that was the first project he worked on as a junior design engineer after leaving the Navy in 1949.” Designed by architect Frank Wynkoop, the Butterfly House has been described as “an architectural masterpiece” anchored directly into the rocky seashore line. Wynkoop’s sons, also architects, happened to be working on the Butterfly House at the same time as Patrick. “I called Wynkoop, Jr. and told him the story of both sons and fathers working on the same project. I got to take my mom and dad out there, and it was pretty good,” Miller said, adding, “I believe I got to see the original concrete my father worked on and it was still going strong.” SD Learn more:



Cloverdale Arts Alliance Gallery

Graton Gallery

Through March 17: “Mix” kicks off the new year with a celebration of sculpture, drawing and paint. Guest artists are Aaron Poovey and Michael Coy. Resident artists included are Laura Paine Carr, Jane Gardner, Shane Gidcumb, Pamela Heck, Sharon Kozel, Paul Maurer and Hanya Popova Parker. Terry Holleman will be the featured resident artist. Open Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 204 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale.

Through March 5: “Graton Gallery’s 6th Annual Small Works Show.” March 7-April 16: Tim Haworth & Susan Ball, Artist Reception March 11, 2-5 p.m. April 18-May 28: “All About Glass” by Sally Baker, watercolors with glass joined by glass artists. Artist’s Reception April 22, 2-5 p.m. Open Tues.Sat. 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. 9048 Graton Rd., Graton.

Dovetail Collection Gallery

Handmade furniture featuring traditional craftsmanship and the beauty of fine woods, home decor and art from American artists and master craftsmen. Open Thurs.-Mon. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and by appt. 407 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. Erickson Fine Art Gallery

Representing the best of Northern California painters and sculptors: Bobette Barnes, Joe Draegert, Finley Fryer, Chris Grassano, Susan Hall, John Haines, Ken Jarvela, Jerome Kirk, Donna McGinnis, Michael Mew, Tom Monaghan, Jean Mooney, Jeanne Mullen, Bob Nugent, Carlos Perez, Sam Racina, Carol Setterlund, Jeffrey Van Dyke, Paul Van Lith, Antoinette Von Grone and Kathleen Youngquist. Open daily 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Wed. by appt. 324 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg.


Gualala Arts’ Dolphin Gallery

Through March 5: “What’s love got to do with it?” North Coast Artists Guild’s special showing of mixed media. Through March 26: Paula Strother and Rebeca Trevino. Opening Reception March 4, 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Strother’s preferred medium is acrylic paints because of the qualities it provides, allowing for texture or watery, softer tones. Threedimensional artist Trevino calls her work “Obtainian Art,” a variation on collages or dioramas using found objects arranged in diverse patterns that evoke surprising responses. Opening reception March 4, 5-7 p.m. See website for more shows. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thurs.-Mon. 39225 Highway 1, Gualala. Hammerfriar Gallery

The gallery regularly features original artwork by established and emerging Bay Area conceptual artists. The passion of Hammerfriar comes together with ongoing exhibits, in which selected artists show new work. Open Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.,

A Conversation by Sally Baker, Graton Gallery

Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 132 Mill St., Suite 101, Healdsburg. The Hand Fan Museum

Dallas A. Saunders Artisan Textiles

Contemporary jacquard tapestries by internationally established artists in a casual wine country setting. Open Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. or by appt. 275 Highway 128, Geyserville. dallasasaunders. com

The nation’s first museum dedicated solely to hand fans, displaying a core collection of more than 500 fans from around the world. Open Wed.-Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 219 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. Healdsburg Center for the Arts

Through March 12: “The Seventh Annual Young Artists Show, selected artwork from Healdsburg Area Schools. March 18-May 14: “Art of Gastronomy” celebrates the bounty of Sonoma County food and its wine industry in the context of art in a unique, 2-monthlong presentation by the Healdsburg Center for the Arts. Diving headlong into the passion, mystique, culture and beauty of food and drink, this exhibition will combine a national juried art competition, a curated presentation of gastronomic poetry and literature, a studio tour, and an afternoon tea. Open daily (except Tues.) 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. 130 Plaza St., Healdsburg. healdsburgcenterforthearts. com

Protecting the land forever is now more important than ever

Local art by local artists. Discover an impressive array of original paintings, fine art reproductions, jewelry and artisan crafts. Voted one of the top three galleries in the region. Located inside Levin & Co. book-store on the eastern side of Healdsburg plaza. Open daily 11 AM – 6 PM 306 Center St., Healdsburg. 707-431-4214


windsor’s best stop for wine & craft beer tasting

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The Ren Brown Collection Gallery

Showcasing contemporary Japanese prints, handmade ceramics and jewelry, Japanese antiques, along with California artists and sculptors. Open Wed.-Sun.,10 a.m.-5 p.m. 1781 Coast Hwy. 1, Bodega Bay.

Sebastopol Center for the Arts Through March 26: “Reflections and Shadows.” Open to all mediums, this exhibition focuses on the duality of light and dark, and on reflections of every kind, including the introspective or narcissistic ones. Gallery II: “Birds: One inspiration, five visions.” Gallery III: “Calligraphic Abstractions” by Sherrie Lovler. March 31-April 16: “Exhibition 60+, Creative expression by artists 60 and over.” April 21-May 17: Youth Show: “Let it be...Kids”; Gallery II: Peter Krohn; Gallery III: Lisa Beernsten. 282 S. High St., Sebastopol. Open Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 1-4 p.m. 282 S. High St., Sebastopol. A Place to Hide by Linda Klein, The Passdoor

Kitty Hawk Gallery

Contemporary and conceptual work and rare finds. Open Mondays and Wed.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 125 N. Main St., Sebastopol. kittyhawkgallery. com Occidental Center for the Arts Gallery

Through March 12: “Onsite: Dave Gordon, Charles Beck and Bill Taylor.” The commonality between their work is that “we traipse around the West County and paint what we see. The decision to paint a particular view and how to present this image as a painting is integral to any artist’s work. It is the specific presence of the artist at the location of the imagery that furnishes the work with 50

Sebastopol Gallery

credibility, and is the takeoff point for multiple layers of meaning.” Occidental Center for the Arts, 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Occidental. Open Fri.Sat. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and during OCA events or by appt. 3850 Doris Murphy Ct., Occidental. Paul Mahder Gallery

Introducing new works by represented fine artists along with new artists and collections. All artwork is original and exclusive to the gallery. Visit the website for current exhibitions. Open Wed.-Mon. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 222 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. paulmahdergallery. com

Through March 26: Botanical paintings by Lucy Martin. March 27 -May 15, mixed media by Jeremy Joan Hewes. Fine art and craft by 15 local artists. Open daily 11 a.m.6 p.m. 150 North Main St., Sebastopol. sebastopol-gallery. com The Passdoor

Through spring: Linda Klein’s Indigenous Transparency Series. Indigenous people, animals and plants are all striving to not become extinct in a world where the politics that govern the planet and us become less transparent. Linda Klein looks to nature for guidance, a sense of well-being and also a place to hide. Ongoing: Joy Stockdale’s polychromatic screen printing. The Passdoor is a love child from the Mother of Modern Art

and the Father of Iconic Design, conceived in 1999 and coming to life in 2014. Open daily 11 a.m.-6 p.m. or by appt. 6780 McKinley St. #150, Sebastopol. The Sculpture Trail

This is a year-round outdoor art display in the Northern Sonoma County communities of Cloverdale and Geyserville. Discover quality works by sculptors from California and beyond. The current exhibit features 34 sculptures on Cloverdale Bouevard and Geyserville Avenue. These contemporary sculptures range from the humorous to the thought-provoking, and some contain a message or story. The exhibit changes yearly the first week in May. A sculpture location map can be found at Towers Gallery

Presents local 2- and 3-dimensional fine art, unique gifts and artisan foods. New shows and receptions held throughout the year. 210 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale. 894-4331 (call for hours). Upstairs Art Gallery

March featured artist, Tony Mininno, exhibits new mixed media oil paintings themed “Eclectic,” displaying his signature use of bright colors and bold brushwork. Reception March 4, 2-6 p.m. In April the gallery features the oil paintings of Donna Schaffer. Reception to be announced. Upstairs Art Gallery is owned and operated by local artists exhibiting an exciting variety of media and subjects, as well as fine art crafts. Open daily 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Located in the heart of Healdsburg on the Plaza at 306 Center St. upstairsartgallery net


Discover art & the artists at the Center for the Arts at the Veteran’s Memorial Building

Open Studios • June 3-4 & 10-11 Preview Exhibit • May 18-June 11 282 S. High St, Sebastopol

707-829-4797 Gallery Hours: Tues-Fri 10a-4p, Sat-Sun 1-4p

Oui! ¡Si! Yes! You’ll love what you find!

Antique Society on Sebastopol’s Antique Row 2661 Gravenstein Hwy So. (Hwy 116) • Sebastopol Open Daily! Cafe on Site!


A Huge Place to Browse! • Toys & Dolls • Pottery • Art

Every Era & Style • Jewelry • Furniture • Fruit Labels

• 100Dealers & a Cafe •

FINE ART • CRAFTS • JEWELRY by Local Sonoma County Artists

150 North Main St. Sebastopol, CA open daily 11 to 6 • 707.829.7200

• Architectural Items •




Santa Rosa Symphony Young People’s Chamber Orchestra

Composting: The Best Thing You Can Do

These talented young musicians will amaze you with their musicianship, poise and level of performance. Special guest from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. 7:30 pm. Cloverdale Performing Arts Center.

Master Gardner Lyle Bullock explains why giving back to your garden (with homemade compost) is as vital as taking from it. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Windsor Regional Library, 9291 Old Redwood Hwy. Bldg 100, Windsor.



The Five Irish Tenors

A “Salute to Ireland” is full of Irish wit, charm and boisterousness with an operatic flair and beloved Irish songs. 7:30 p.m. Weill Hall, Green Music Center. MARCH 3

Cloverdale High School Improv Group

Improv is fun for the audience and a challenge for the actors who have to think fast to keep up and say their piece. 7 p.m. Cloverdale Performing Arts Center. cloverdaleperformingarts. com

Miró Quartet

MARCH 11-12

Transcendence Theatre Company:

Best of Broadway Under the Stars From the creators of the award-winning concert series comes this “Best of” celebration featuring more than 20 performers from shows such as Wicked, Mamma Mia, The Book Of Mormon and more. This evening of dynamic music and dance will have you dancing in your seat. Person Theater, Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.

MARCH 3-5 & MARCH 10-12, 2017

Barrel Tasting – Wine Road’s 40th Anniversary

See page 6 in this issue MARCH 3-5

North Bay Stage Company Spring Dance Festival

Local artists and choreographers will be showcasing their best work—from ballet to burlesque and swing to hip-hop, using a diversity of styles and interesting themes. 8 p.m. East Auditorium, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. 8 p.m. and Sunday matinee.




OCA’s Mardi Gras Dance Party

Making Gardens More Sustainable

Suzy Thompson plays Cajun accordion, fiddle and guitar as she joins her husband, flatpicker Eric Thompson, and talented daughter Allegra of Thompsonia, plus other fine musicians for some smokin’ Cajun/blues dance music as Aux Cajunals. Cajun dance lesson 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m. concert/ dance. All ages. Occidental Center for the Arts, Occidental.

Using an example of a small urban garden, Master Gardener Kim Pearson will suggest projects that will transform a garden to a more environmentally friendly, sustainable and beautiful one. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sebastopol Regional Library, 7140 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol.

This chamber group is beloved by fans for their top-tier performances and commitment to the music education. Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott joins them. 3 p.m. Weill Hall, Green Music Center. MARCH 9

Books on Stage presents Matthew Spektor

Meet novelist, non-fiction writer, and senior editor and founding member of the Los Angeles Review of Books, whose novel “American Dream Machine” is a narrative about parents, children and the movie business. Salon follows. 7 p.m. Cloverdale Performing Arts Center. MARCH 10-12

Cinnabar Theater Young Rep: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“The course of true love never did run smooth”... and Shakespeare’s delightful fantasy proves it. Young lovers, battling fairies and a posse of rude mechanicals combine to show “what fools these mortals be!” Cinnabar Theater, Petaluma.


Native Plants for Sonoma County

Master Gardeners Mimi Enright and Susan Foley will discuss why California native plants take our dry summers in stride and are the best habitat plants for our creatures. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Cloverdale Public Library, 401 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale. MARCH 11

Sonoma County Bluegrass and Folk Festival

17th annual event: The Folk Society and the California Bluegrass Association have worked together to put on some great shows over the years and this will be no exception. Bring your instruments to jam. Workshops rain or shine. 1-8 p.m. Sebastopol Community Cultural Center. MARCH 11

Dahlia Care and Culture

Learn how to grow great dahlias for beds, borders and cutting gardens from Master Gardener Jim Lang, who has grown several thousand dahlias over the past 30 years and has exhibited and judged them for the past nine years. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Guerneville Public Library, 14107 Bodega Ave., Guerneville. MARCH 11

Honey Bees

Master Gardener Denny Pedersen will take you on a tour of life in a honey bee colony and talk about how you can help, including what plants to grow. 10:30 a.m.-12: 30 p.m. Healdsburg Public Library, 139 Piper St., Healdsburg. MARCH 16 -APRIL 20

Healdsburg AAUW Forum

Professor Chris O’Sullivan presents his new course describing the history of Sonoma County, from its earliest days to 21st century society, offering a fascinating look back and some surprises along the way. 1011:30 a.m. Raven Performing Arts Theater, Healdsburg. Details: MARCH 17-APRIL 2.

Visiting Mr. Green

What starts as a comedy about an elderly retired dry cleaner and a young corporate executive who do not want to be in the same room together becomes a drama as they get to care about each other. 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. 6th St., Santa Rosa.


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See page 6.

Occidental Fool’s Day Parade

An Evening with Neil Gaiman

Celebrated author tells and reads stories, answers questions, and in his own words “amazes, befuddles and generally delights.” 8 p.m., Person Theater, Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.




Cinnabar Theater presents The Odd Couple MARCH 29

An Evening with Graham Nash

One of music’s most legendary singer-songwriters and vocal harmonists, Graham Nash has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice—with The Hollies and Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN)—and is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. His voice continues to be heard in support of peace, and social and environmental justice. His classic songs for CSN and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young continue to inspire generations. 7:30 p.m. Person Theater, Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.

MARCH 17-18

12 Annual Celebration of Pigs and Pinot

Put your name on the waiting list for the intimate dining and educational events hosted by Chef Charlie Palmer. MARCH 18-20

California Artisan Cheese Festival

See page 6. MARCH 23-26

Looking for more calendar events in the area? Visit our website for a complete listing of area events.

10th Annual Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

See page 6. MARCH 24

Arturo Sandoval | Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band

Dizzy Gillespie protégé Arturo Sandoval is one of the most exciting guardians of jazz trumpet, and Percussionist Poncho Sanchez is a Latin jazz legend whose grooves blend genres. 7:30 pm Weill Hall, Green Music Center,


Katharine Gunnink, Soprano

Internationally acclaimed soprano (Cloverdale native) in recital, accompanied by Jacob Zdunich on the piano. 7:30 p.m. Cloverdale Performing Arts Center. 54

Russian River Mud Run

A family-friendly obstacle course at Ya Ka Ama in Forestville. Food, fun, games and activities after the race. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Free admission. Battle of the Brews

When Oscar Madison and Felix Unger come together, the results are non-stop hilarity in Neil Simon’s classic comedy. Cinnabar Theater, Petaluma.

The Active 20-30 club of Santa Rosa again puts on the county’s largest craft brew competition, raising funds to help change the lives of needy children. Grace Pavilion, Sonoma County Fair Grounds.



Hallberg Butterfly Gardens Self-Guided & Guided Tours

Louise Hallberg, West County’s beloved Butterfly Lady, turned 100 in January! Come see her life’s work in this magical wildlife sanctuary and learn how to create a butterfly garden at home. Wed.-Sun.

Leela Dance

Bringing together the world’s leading Kathak artists in this exlusive premiere of their latest work. 7:30 p.m. Weill Hall, Green Music Center. gmc. APRIL 8-9

44th Annual Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival

Artwork, whale education, films, poetry and jazz, an annual Chowder Challenge and tasting, and live music in atmospheric settings from Timber Cove to Point Arena and the Gualala Arts Center. See schedule online at,

“A Wish for Fish” features live music, seafood and food trucks, entertainment, wine tasting, beer, local cuisine, art show, crafts fair and children’s events. Gather on the shoreline by 11:30 a.m. Sunday to watch the boat parade and Blessing of the Fishing Fleet. Well-behaved pets welcomed. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Westside Park, Bodega Bay.




14th Annual Whale & Jazz Festival

41st Cloverdale Fiddle Festival

The festival features workshops, jamming, crafts and food with fine performances by old time and bluegrass bands on the jamming stage. See website for details. Cloverdale Citrus Fairgrounds. Campsites available: 707894-3992.,, and

Arlo Guthrie - Running Down The Road Tour

A flashback-inducing, mindexpanding show that features some of Guthrie’s most outstanding cuts, exemplifying the sound that shaped a generation. 7:30 pm Weill Hall, Green Music Center. gmc.


Healdsburg Printing, Inc.

Children’s Hour

6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. 6th St., Santa Rosa. APRIL 21-23, 28-30

Agnes of God

Summoned to a convent, a court-appointed psychiatrist is charged with assessing the sanity of a novice accused of murdering her newborn; the Mother Superior keeps the mother from the doctor, requiring all three women to re-examine the meaning of faith and the power of love. APRIL 22-23

Sebastopol’s 71st Annual Apple Blossom Festival & Parade

See page 6. APRIL 28, APRIL 29-30

Prelude and Passport to Passport Dry Creek Valley

See page 6. APRIL 28-29

Graton Community Club Spring Flower Show & Plant Sale

Members will be presenting floral renditions of their own secret gardens for the club’s theme of “Secret Garden.� Purchase tomato starts, other vegetables and drought-tolerant species, potted plants, succulents and flower bulbs and more, plus handcrafted items, quilts and embroidered tea towels and collectible treasures. Lunch (11 a.m.2 p.m.) 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 707-829-5314,

• flyers b/w or full color

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707 433-1680 30 D Mill Street Healdsburg, CA 95448


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Farm Trails’ Spring Farm Tour

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Che Malambo

This all-male dance company consists of some of Argentina’s best Malambo Dancers. Presenting a thrilling, percussive dance and music spectacle, the company’s work celebrates the unique South American cowboy tradition of the gaucho. 7:30 p.m. Weill Hall, Green Music Center. gmc.

Celebrating 10 years of live theater, music  and literary arts! 

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APRIL 29-30

It’s time for “Blossoms, Bees & Barnyard Babies,� when farmers welcome you onto their turf. Pet baby farm animals, talk about the farming life, watch honeybees make honey, learn about flower arranging, shop at farm stands and more. Register at to get a link to a live map and an itinerary. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sonoma County Farm Trails.

Cloverdale Performing Arts Center



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one last thought+

Awakening to Spring by Gayle Okumura Sullivan



customer insisted we watch one of Akira Kurosawa’s shorts in the dream series called “The Peach Orchard.” Through a child’s eye, and with beautiful blossom visuals, you feel the importance of honoring nature. You see the impact that change, in the name of progress, can make. It is breathtaking, and heartbreaking. We try our best to continue the tradition of the farm, and hopefully improve it. The farm is at its best and brightest in spring. Also, when we first bought the farm, there was an acre of asparagus, down towards Dry Creek. It was conventional though, and we wanted the entire property to be organic, and the asparagus just did not grow on our property organically. The area by the creek is very low, and there is so much moisture. Much to the chagrin of many, we removed the asparagus and actually planted more peach trees. I miss the asparagus, those spears sticking straight up each spring, and I loved working with them. Here is a simple recipe that was handed down to us, so easy to prepare, and so delicious! SD

Roasted Spring Asparagus Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry asparagus, and then break them naturally at the stem. Set on a tray and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle with chopped garlic. Roast for only a few minutes, so they are cooked, but still crisp. Let cool. Now sprinkle some peach blossoms and serve. Flowers as a garnish are a wonderful way to present any dish. I like to put them in salads, drinks, desserts, or atop any course. I pull from our garden or I buy them at the farmers’ market. Enjoy this glorious spring season. Take a drive or a walk; we really are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

photo by Sarah Bradbury

pring is the most spectacular time of year here on the farm. After a long slumber through the winter, the trees in the orchard awaken and the buds turn into bright pink flowers, each one a peach to be. When at full peak, it feels almost unreal, as though on a movie set, or some place staged. Yet it happens each year, and each spring we walk through the orchard, stunned, taking in the beauty of it all. And if the fruit sets, then each blossom truly does become a peach. Later in spring, we begin the big job of thinning the young immature green fruit with still soft pits, from the tree, for it is just too much for the tree and branches to bear. The small green fruit can fall to the ground and compost into the soil, or it can be pickled, or even turned into a sweet liqueur called momoshu. If you are grafting stone fruit trees, changing the variety of an existing tree through a process almost like a transplant, now’s the time. And the branches of the cut tree make stunning arrangements. I keep the blossoms as long as I possibly can. When we first bought the farm, a

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Sonoma Discoveries Magazine for Mar/Apr 2017

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