As the leaves darken for fall, a farmer’s basket brings a wide spectrum of color to the table.
Santa Rosa Junior College’s sustainable agriculture program is providing that rainbow of produce for our community to enjoy at a more convenient location.
Student-grown and cared for, the Shone Farm stand is not far from campus. Located on the corner of Mendocino and Carr Avenue, the stand offers a selection of seasonal produce, olive oil and grass-fed beef.
The agriculture program describes Shone Farm as a “learning laboratory” of 365 acres, 12 of which teach sustainable agricultural methods to preserve energy and waste.
One method students learn about is the use of crop rotation to avoid monocropping vegetables. This means vegetables are not planted continuously in the same soil year after year. Rotating crops renews the soil so it can provide more plentiful nutrients for fruits and vegetables.
“We practice organic practices; we’re not actually certified,” said Robin Galbraith, a sustainable agriculture student. “I think that’s something they’re working on, so there’s no sprays. We do use a tracker, but we do have a garden that’s all no-till that the students work with.” Students in this program keep a close eye on crops to avoid pesticide use. This helps to ensure our community can safely consume its healthy riches. It also shows their hard work.
“Strawberries go like crazy, especially in the beginning of the season. Corn we haven’t been able to keep. I think the other day we sold about two cases,” Tatiana Sierra said, a coordinator for the farm stand.
Other produce available for fall are gypsy and serrano peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, turnips, string beans, summer squash and cilantro. Produce varies by the week and can sell quickly. Prices range from 75 cents to $2 a pound.
The beef for sale is 100 percent grass-fed with no growth hormones or antibiotics. The stand sells a variety of cuts and even pieces such as livers, hearts and bone marrow. You can ask a farm stand attendant for more details.
If you’re interested in regular pick-ups, the stand offers community supported agriculture boxes in two sizes, one for families and another smaller one geared toward students. The family size box provides one full meal. The smaller bag gives students three to four items. Both are available on a weekly or monthly basis.
“I’ve always gone to CSAs and farmers markets,” said Nathan Manley, a full-time student and scholar bag subscriber. “This was a really cool little promotion they do for the students. They get to grow it and it’s all really good food.”
Along with signing up for a CSA box or scholar bag, the stand has a newsletter to keep subscribers informed on recipes and produce of the week. Each box is priced different with weekly and monthly purchases. CSA boxes range from $108 to $338 a month or $27 a week. The scholar bag is $48 for four distributions or $12 per bag.
Several top local shops and restaurants, including John Ash & Co. in Santa Rosa and SHED in Healdsburg, purchase Shone-grown produce from the stand. SRJC’s Culinary Cafe also uses the farm’s produce in its seasonal dishes.
Shone Farm officially opened the stand in its new location back in early May. It’s open Wednesday through Friday, noon-6 p.m. Though SRJC runs the farm, the stand does not follow the college schedule. The stand will be selling produce on days there is no school.