"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

Aug 11, 2009

Making Love to Nature

The Vegetable Whisperer

Carmel Wroth -backyardmedia.org

Originally published in Brink Magazine, 2008-2009

Bob Cannard coaxes perfection out of his farm by allowing a little bad behavior

The day I visited Bob Cannard’s farm in the Sonoma Valley, I nearly drove right by. The road had climbed steadily up from the cul-de-sacs, the wineries and the golf course of Glen Ellen, toward the blue-green ridge of the Sonoma foothills. I had passed the neighbor’s neatly trimmed vineyards and entered a domain of green meadows blooming with wildflowers and lush forests of redwood, bay, oak and madrone. One field, scattered with olive trees and tall patches of oats and rose clover, might have been part of a farm, or might have been a long-abandoned orchard. I wasn’t quite sure. I finally realized I’d arrived at a working farm when I passed a rickety barn stacked with shovels, rakes and hoes, and stopped in front of a little blue and white farm house.

I got out and took a deep breath of sweet air. This was it, the Shangri-la of locavores, the farm that started it all. Every week, vans from Chez Panisse come up this drive to pick up the food Cannard grows on these 30 unkempt acres. Since 1984, when Alice Waters’ father discovered Bob Cannard, the famous Berkeley restaurant has relied on him to provide the freshest produce for its famously local and seasonal bill of fare. He supplies about half their fruits and vegetables, and is one of a handful of farmers billed on the menu. More than just a celebrity restaurateur, Waters has become an apostle for local, sustainable agriculture. And Waters isn’t alone. Nationwide, eating locally has taken off as the latest cause of the environmentally minded, with writers like Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan making the case for growing your own food or supporting local farmers. Through it all, as the favorite of gourmet chefs, Cannard’s farm has remained the gold standard of just how delicious local, sustainable food can be.

Cannard on his farm.


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-Cormac McCarthy-

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