Sunday, 29 November 2009

Rancho Siempre Verde Christmas Tree Farm on The Slow Coast

Welcome. For 45 years family and friends have made Rancho Siempre Verde a lively and beautiful place to enjoy the Christmas season.

We invite you to come swing to your heart's content, picnic overlooking the Pacific Ocean, take a tractor ride, roast marshmallows by the fire, romp in the hay, make a wreath, and stroll leisurely through the fields in search of your perfect tree.

We promise no plastic Santas, no long lines, and no parking-lot-style Christmas trees. Just a relaxed rural farm with a diversity of beautiful trees and lots of very friendly people.

So, please come with family, friends, dogs and good cheer and join us in celebrating this cherished holiday tradition.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Jim Hightower | Giving Thanks for America's Good Food Movement

t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

What better day than Thanksgiving to celebrate our country's food rebels!

I'm talking about the growing movement of small farmers, food artisans, local retailers, co-ops, community organizers, restaurateurs, environmentalists, consumers and others -- perhaps including you. 

This movement has spread the rich ideas of sustainability, organic, local control and the Common Good from the fringes of our food economy into the mainstream.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The New York Times Praises The Slow Coast

Setting aside the park’s 4,000 acres was a start. But it has taken another 50 years to begin to protect the landscape in which Año Nuevo Point is set. What you see there now is a steadily developing patchwork of protections, the remarkable result of private efforts, state and municipal programs, reclamation trade-offs, and the gradual substitution of small organic farms for the old toxic monocultures. The protections are by no means complete. But it’s hard to imagine a more vivid demonstration of the value of coastal protection and the ways in which it can be done.

More on the New York Times

Friday, 20 November 2009

On Food and Connections

We all want to live sustainably. 

We want to live simply and make healthy choices. 

The problem is most of us just don't know how. 

That's why, for me, when I meet a person who really embodies a that kind of life. I want him/her as a friend. I want a little of that mojo to rub off on me. 

Same holds true for things. The other day I brought home a bag of Lays potato chips from Safeway. My wife said, " let's eat them quick. I don't want that 'brand' around the house". I didn't have to ask why ( that's why we're married ). 

The Lays emblem doesn't align with who we want to be.  I guess, we're more of a Kettle Chips family. That package can live on our shelf and interact with our kids. 

Why?  Because somehow we've came to think that Kettle represents a different set of values. Ones that are more in line with the kind we want in our friends and the kind we want to instill in our kids. Until now, I wasn't even sure if our perception of Kettle was, in fact, correct. Maybe we were wrong.  Maybe Kettle is just another brand that hooked us in with savvy earthy-looking packaging. Not so. I just visited the web site . It has a whole section committed to sustainability with news about building "green plants" and running trucks on biodiesel. It seems like a pretty cool company doing good things. 

But really, do I know these guys? In fact, when you get right down it, Ketlle chips are one more highly processed product that comes from a long way away. Not really a friend.So as I sit drinking my imported beer and eating my Kettlecchips, I get to thinking. Wouldn't it be great if we made our own potato chips... from potatoes we grew ourselves... And then used the left over grease to fill up our car. 

And this beer? I could even brew up my own beer. 

I sip and munch and dream and I draw inspiration from my friends on the Slow Coast.  

Can I trade my beer and chips for your cheese and pie?

Dave Bernard

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Our Road

Sometimes we just pull over on the side 
to watch birds
or waves.

Here each cow has a name, 
like Petey
or Stripey.

We clutch our cups of coffee,
eat strawberries and apples 
and talk about puma sightings 
in the hills.

And when there’s a baby 
or cancer 
we cook for each other.

-Wallace J. Nichols

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Traversing Swanton Road, by Jim West

Although synthetic in origin, Swanton Road, like its fluid counterpart Scotts Creek, traverses a substantial part of the watershed and reveals an informative cross-section of the region’s flora. Without leaving the tarmac, one can journey the entire length of “Old Highway One” and observe/study some of Santa Cruz County’s rarest, most horticulturally desirable, and just plain overlooked plant life! The Scotts Creek Watershed is more than an aggregation of 600+ native species representing 282+ genera and 88+ families: it is that rare occurrence, a living window into California’s evolutionary past, still relatively undeveloped by human activity and spared the habitat degradation that has befallen much of the coastal ecology elsewhere in our state.
Read the entire document HERE:

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Slow Coast*

slow, adj. def. moving a short space in a relatively long time; not swift; not quick in motion; not rapid; moderate; deliberate; gradual; as, a slow stream; a slow motion; as, the slow growth of arts and sciences.

I've started calling the place I live The Slow Coast.

Some people call it the North Coast, since it's north of Santa Cruz. To some, it's the central coast of California. My town, Davenport, is at the very mid-point of the California coast.

But technically the Central Coast of California spans Santa Cruz Co. south to Santa Barbara/north Ventura.  With all due respect, that just doesn't cut it as a name for here.

"The Slow Coast" is a better name.

It’s not just because things are mellower here compared to the supersonic pace of Silicon Valley just over the mountains, the busy coast up north of us in San Francisco or southern California’s “Fast Coast”.

The stretch of coast and mountains from Wilder Ranch to north of San Gregorio is beautiful, quiet, productive and mostly devoid of people and major highways. A bit inland you'll find slow-growing redwoods, meandering creeks, slow-crawling newts and the slowest of all: banana slugs.

Farms and ranches produce luscious organic strawberries, apples, wine, cheese and pie.

Here the fog pushes up between the trees, then gives way to sun. Waves travel slowly across the Pacific to meet the land, at the bottom of a steep trail. Salmon and steelhead push upstream. Grey whales hug the shoreline on their annual migration between Alaska and Baja California.

A few months ago I walked the coast from Santa Cruz up to San Francisco to attend Slow Food Nation, a massive gathering of farmers, growers, ranchers, producers of wine, beer, honey--you name it--people who produce food in traditional, organic ways. It took four days and I took my own sweet time. Few people take long treks up our coast, so I was alone with the sea to my left most of the time.

A slow walk on the Slow Coast.

Come visit The Slow Coast. There are a few wonderful places to lodge, camp or hostel. Take some time to walk the trails and beaches, watch the newts and slugs, the hawks and herons, the bobcats and deer, and pick some berries and apples. And be sure to eat some pie. Lots ofpie!

It’s not just Slow Food and leisure walks, aimlessly exploring back roads, lighthouses and watching wildlife. We have great surf, tough hiking and excellent biking trails. Places called Bear Gulch, Pigeon Point, Gazos Creek, Waddell Beach.

The Slow Coast is an antidote to your fast life. A place that you know will be there, more or less the same. Even when you aren’t.

[Bring along a copy of Carl Honore’s book, In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed]

Take it easy. Keep it slow.

*The place we call the The Slow Coast encompasses the beaches and coastal range from roughly just north of Santa Cruz to just south of Half Moon Bay, including the communities of Bonny Doon, Davenport, Ano Nuevo, San Gregorio, and Pescadero.

Some of the folks making a living on the Slow Coast and waiting for you to stop by are listed in the links to the right.

By the way, our efforts to highlight our Slow Coast community parallel other Slow Coasts around the world, such as those in the UK and Canada.  We hope to visit them, and to enjoy their coast, and to someday return the favor.

-Wallace J. Nichols

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Slow Coast Potluck Notes by Katherine June

Below are the notes I took the other night at the Slow Coast potluck. I organized them into two sections: 1) that of general comments and ideas, and 2) questions/concerns. 

I think I was able to jot down the gist of what people were saying, but since I haven't studied economics, I was grappling a bit with some of the ideas as they were being discussed. I hope my interpretation of what was shared is at least close to what was actually meant...let us know if you have any questions if somethings not clear by adding to the comments.

And thanks again for the invite...I'm excited to have the opportunity to take part in the evolution of Slow Coast endeavors!

Sitting fireside daydreaming about some slow apple pie from Pie Ranch!



JIM COCHRAN welcomed us to Swanton Berry Farm.

J. NICHOLS introduced the Slow Coast idea.

-Gravitating towards the clarity of simplicity

-Unique opportunity to NOT market, but TO BE the ideology as a community

-Make it work for us as a community, then watch it ripple outward

-Reduce (as much as possible) the use of US dollars, using Slow Coast Cash as the main currency...and do so by using the least amount of bureaucracy...let it be a community-building commerce; have fun with it!

-Let the Slow Coast Cash be a conversation starter

-A foggy area of inquiry: an hour of service=how much squash, for example?

- One of the farmers said, "To start things off, perhaps we could try inviting a cross-section of the Slow Foods community (farmers, bakers, cheese and wine makers, etc.) to an event and have them bring goods to barter... somehow introducing the Slow Coast Cash into the equation." (HOW though, is the question!)

-PAUL GLOVER is the name of the man who organized the Ithaca Hour alternative currency. Debbie from Freewheelin' Farms said that he makes himself very available to people who are trying to start similar projects and that it could be worth reaching out to him.

-DAVE GARDNER: "Slow Coast currency as a slow step towards succession!"

-PHILLIPE LECONTE (the french man visiting UCSC) who has studied alternative currencies had this to say:

"It is important for alternative currencies to arise. They protect the local economy and defend the well-being of all neighbors. They can be difficult to start, but once they are going, have proven to be quite sustainable. There are 2 critical points that need serious examination within the community: 1) How will the people come to value their time in exchange for goods (what amount of time equals what goods or services) and 2) Are the people ready to be without "speculation", that is, are the producers willing to change the programming of all prior thought about how much food is worth in US dollars, and begin to view the value in a new way, without constantly interpreting the exchange through regular-currency-exchange-colored-glasses."

He also mentioned the question of taxes and that the possibility of alerting the government is important to consider.

Leconte recommended researching the Swiss alternative currency model (that of the WIR vs. the franc).

Finally, he stressed the importance of keeping the currency flowing vs. saving it/trying to have it appreciate... it will not work if people begin to horde it.

-The idea of creating a Slow Coast website in order to organize/network/list activities/trades etc. was mentioned and that it would be helpful to include not only food producers, but those who provide services such as mechanics, healers, artists, etc. so that the wider community can participate. [This blog is simply a placeholder for now]

-JIM COCHRAN: "This requires an open will be a fun challenge to twist my mind into these new ideas of participating in an alternative currency and to let go of all prior conditioning around money and business." He continued, by offering a 10% premium on Swanton Berry goods, using Slow Coast Cash, to get the ball rolling.


-What about the "gold standard"? What could be the equivalent? Do we need an equivalent? [a Slow Coast organic pie = twenty Slow Coast Cash?]

-Where do we start? How is this established? How do we go about tying alternative values to goods/services? What is equitable when viewed outside the box?

-Would farmers be interested in trading goods for various services (i.e. tutoring for their children, car repair, acupuncture, etc.)?

-What about relying on a small, local bank to create a small scale reserve? Could all participants somehow be part of an account that would create new/different values on goods/services but would still provide/assign actual monetary value on them that felt fair?

-What about migrant workers? How can we get them involved and have their standard of living increased and their other needs met, as well (such as trading for healthcare/ car care/ etc.)?