Spring has finally sprung at Flatbed Farm in Glen Ellen. After a long, cold rainy winter, the sun is here again and skies are turning blue.
The farm, which was closed for months because of last October’s fires, has bounced back in a big way. That’s good news for shoppers who want fresh vegetables, starts for their gardens and connections to chefs and farmers.
For now, the farm stand is only open Saturdays from 10 to 2, but with warmer weather, days and hours will expand. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, the chickens are laying eggs like crazy, the roses are blooming and the strawberries are ripening fast.
There’s also olive oil from the olive trees that survived the fires, plus new Flatbed Farm T-shirts, as well as gluten-free pastries, preserves and jams created by hand and in small batches by chef Amie Pfeifer who says, “I’m all about Slow Food.”
Not just Amie, but everyone on the farm is about Slow Food.
Flatbed is good and clean and fair.
On a recent Saturday, Pfeifer looked up from her computer and explained that, “It was too emotional to come here and look around right after the fires.” She added that, “It wasn’t just that we lost the barn, though it was a spectacular building. It was also that we lost a gathering-place for the community.”
For the time being, Flatbed is using an Air Stream Trailer that serves as storage room and office.
Sofie Dolan, who co-owns Flatbed with her husband Chris, said that there were no immediate plans to build another big barn to replace the one they lost.
“We will have a new small structure near the entrance,” she said.
For Sofie, as for everyone else at Flatbed, the fires were traumatic. Like everyone else, she’s recovering nicely.
“It feels great to be back here,” she said. “The positivity of the community has provided a huge motivation for us to keep going. It takes confidence and courage.”
Kevin and Rachel Gilbert couldn’t be more positive. They shopped at Flatbed on Cinco de Mayo when the farm stand offered freshly picked peas, cilantro, chard and little gems.
The Gilberts live six months of the year in Chicago and six months in Glen Ellen.
“There’s nothing like this in Chicago,” Kevin Gilbert said. “We live here half the year because of the organic produce and the farm stands more than for the wine, though we also like the wine.”
Rachel Gilbert added, “We love the Flatbed eggs. They come in different colors.”
Rachel Kohn Obut, who has been the main farmer at Flatbed for the past three seasons, is back again, though only for two days a week. She’s also farming now in Napa five days a week.
“We’re focusing on our most popular produce,” Kohn Obut said. “And we’re expanding flowers.”
She added that it was hard to be back at Flatbed right after the fire destroyed the barn, but that once spring arrived and she put seeds in the ground “it began to feel good again.”
On Cinco de Mayo, Kohn Obut shared her farming experience with visitors.
Amie Pfeifer explained how she makes red sauce for pasta, and when a customer asked about her lime marmalade she recommended adding it to a thick slice of sourdough bread smeared with goat cheese.
Sofie Dolan offered suggestions about a spring salad made with arugula, pea shoots, pistachios, avocado, and Burrata, plus olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
“It’s been fun to start all over again,” she said. “But it’s also been frustrating since insurance doesn’t cover much. We still have to do smoke abatement in our living space on the top of the hill.”
Sofie smiled and put together a bouquet with Lamb’s Ear, Scabiosa, Love in the Mist, Yarrow and Verbena that would make any table all the more beautiful.
Flatbed Farm, 13450 Sonoma Highway 12,
Glen Ellen, California 95442, email@example.com
Photos by Karen Preuss. Karen is a Board member of Slow Food Russian River and contributes to the work of its Media Team.
Jonah Raskin is a member of Slow Food Russian River and the author of Field Days: A Year of Farming, Eating and Drinking Wine in California.
So beautiful to see many hands coming together to make sure businesses and places alike are coming back to fruition after the devastating fires. Thank you for sharing!