Saturday, July 17, 2010

Barn Moving

I'm not sure of the age of this barn, but am very curious. It is old, historic, perhaps not relevant enough to have made it onto the National Register of Historic Places, but certainly worthy of preservation and functional for continued use....if it can be saved from the fate it currently faces.

The location is off River/Mark West Springs Road, east of the freeway over pass on the south side of the road. This is the property that you might pass as you enter the Wells Fargo Center for events, it is a property where one day in the future you may visit for appointments and emergencies at Sutter Hospital who will be moving in on this site starting this fall. It is a property that once served as a historic agricultural center in Sonoma County, this barn being one of the few features left of these classic early days. While the use of the land is certain to evolve and serve the modern needs of the community and local health care....the barn is up for negotiation.

Sutter has gifted this barn to Tierra Vegetables. It is ours....if it can be moved. It CAN be moved, experts have consulted and agreed. Skinny roadways and power lines are negotiable, the most likely route being the stretch of 101 between River and Fulton exits, but Old Redwood and Fulton could be alternatives. You never notice all the low power lines until you have occasion to notice...

Wayne, Evie and myself dropped in a chit chatted with a couple of guys working at the barn for the Wells Fargo Center yesterday. They were supportive, intrigued and excited over the possibility of salvaging the barn versus the demolition that could result if nothing is done. It is a community resource and no one wants to see a structure of our past like this destroyed. It has value that is sentimental, aside from all the aesthetic and utility value.

For the farm, the possibilities are endless. Coincidentally, the farm is in a time sensitive need for an ungraded structure to house the on site farm stand. While nothing is wrong with our current stand, the location will be taken from the farm by Caltrans as road work continues on the highway 101 and Airport Boulevard upgrades and expansions. We need a nice barn....and look, there is one right down the road that needs a new home. Isn't it nice when all the pieces fall in place?

On the right Wayne enthusiastically describes to Evie how the barn would sit in the field and the many uses it spaces would provide to the farm. Improvements a building like this would offer to the farm include an indoor/outdoor farm stand where we could set up shop and lock the door at the end of the day (versus the daily assembly and dis-assembly the stand currently requires each day). This would save so much time and labor. The barn would have indoor work space, a space for use for events, storage for grains, onions, potatoes and other important storage crops that we feed you with (many of these are carted up to Lee's place on Chalk Hill Road still, causing transport and resupply needs regularly). We could have office space right on the farm, telephones and computers on site. Currently, our office operation is located on Shiloh Road along with the commercial kitchen. An on site office would be a huge benefit for customers calling in orders and questions, farmers making critical decisions that are best done on site, time saving consolidation of daily business and farming operations, etc...

It is all of these benefits and dreams for what could be better that keep Wayne, Evie, Lee and all us surrounding folks pushing for this to go through. Suddenly, the time line is upon us. Perhaps we ought to have acted sooner, but upon consulting with the Sutter contact, the barn needs to be gone within weeks. Before September 1st? More or less. In recent days Wayne has consulted with moving experts, approved the idea with engineers, Sonoma County Open Space representatives, leaving only the formality of dealing with permits and utilities (a significant hurdle). Then there are the financial somewhere around $100,000 in estimated costs, this is not necessarily a "sustainable" effort for a small farm. While in the long run the function and utility will serve and benefit the farm, it will also upgrade our service to the community, salvaging and restoring a historic resource and improving and upgrading what we are able to offer as a local farm. We are seeking help via any outlet possible. Please contact us if you have any ideas, input or resources to spare.

The story of the barn is a long and evolving one, Wayne has been talking about it pretty much all year. I'm sure I have omitted interesting details but this is a pretty good overview of what is happening right now. The bottom line is that our farm stand is soon to be gone, this barn is right there, and it just makes sense to act on the changes confronting us. Please support our efforts, if only in your thoughts. It is a pooling of community resources that assists grand projects like this one and we welcome anything you might have to offer.

How can you help us? It is quite simple, we realize our average customer is not sitting on a pile of financial resources waiting to be invested in a barn moving event to support their local farm (although we would not turn you down, were that the case). Instead, we ask that you come and shop. We could use your money, but not for nothing. We do, in fact, have plenty of fantastic fresh vegetables to trade as is always the case and it is under these circumstances that we put out and extra call for your business. This alone will contribute to the finance of our efforts. If you want to let us know that your interest in helping is why you have dropped into the stand that day, please let us know. It is satisfying to know we are working together to execute a project that is so monumental. So please take that extra step to drop by once more per week, grab a few extra carrots when you are at the farm, or just spread the word and tell a friend or two who you always thought would enjoy our produce and/or would appreciate what we are doing. We thank you in advance and look forward to seeing your faces.