As summer approaches, Paul’s Produce has been reconsidering the Farm Stand we have operated for the last four years. This year we have decided not to open the Farm Stand despite overwhelming local support. It has been far beyond what we had expected or planned for, and the demand has continued to grow. It’s not for lack of interest that we’re making this decision. We hope our customers will come to understand our reasons.
As we (Candi and I) continue to age we are looking for ways to continue farming. We realize that we don’t bounce back quite as quickly after long hard days, and Saturdays have evolved into the hardest day of all. We also realize that we should begin paring down the number of crops that we grow for the sake of efficiency. The beauty of the farmers’ market, or selling to restaurants and wholesale markets is that we can more easily focus on our strengths without feeling the need to make a full variety of crops that we’ve come to be known for — especially at the Farm Stand.
This year has also been a hard start to the growing season for us because of the rain. Later than normal planting of almost everything, and the lagging volume in availability because of that. We’re not currently meeting the demand of any of our sales venues. That will begin to straighten out over the next month or two, but it brings us to the last and possibly more troubling problem. Namely, labor and the high cost of living in Sonoma Valley. I doubt anyone reading this would be surprised by this. Seasonal labor in a place with such high rents is difficult. Training takes time for anyone not familiar with the challenges of physical labor and the crop specific techniques that we employ. We feel it’s a better strategy to attempt year round employment for anyone who is up to the task of being in the field. To that end we’re trying to adjust our cropping and work load to even out the seasons for our crew instead of overwhelming ourselves with Summer crops.
We have always seen ourselves with a “Local First” focus. The Farm Stand was so positive and exciting, such an overwhelming boost from our community. As with all life, changes are inevitable and though the Farm Stand will be closed this year, we are open to the next evolution which could bring it back, given the right conditions and personnel.
Thanks for your understanding! And enjoy revisiting Farm Stands from the past 4 seasons.
Paul and Candi
You can still find our produce at the Tuesday Farmers’ Market on the Plaza, 5:30- dark and Friday Farmers’ Market in Depot Park, 9-12:30.