You might think you need water, and lots of it, to grow crops. Not necessarily.
Dry farming uses no irrigation. Farmers simply plant crops that tap into high water tables such as those found in the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Growers have been dry farming for centuries, and the practice has many benefits in times of drought.
When we create a food system in harmony with our microregion, the result is food that is beautiful, fresh and vibrant. For example, dry-farmed tomatoes have a higher concentration of flavor, nutrition, pigment and sugar. The health benefits of fresh and nutrient-rich foods are plentiful.
Dry farming generally produces less volume per acre than a similar irrigated crop and this can equate to a higher cost. But I think the flavor and nutrition is worth it. Supporting your local food system means choosing these beneficial methods.
Let us be an example for other communities and choose to honor those who honor the earth. A food system that works in harmony with the planet gets some of its vitality from those who support it.
Dry-farmed produce is available throughout the year in the North Bay. Here's a short list of several farms and what they grow:
David Little of Little Organic Farm (pictured) in Tomales grows potatoes, tomatoes, winter squash and sunchokes. Jesse Pizzitola of First Light Farm in west Petaluma grows potatoes, tomatoes and winter squash. Michael Collins of Bloomfield Organics near Petaluma also grows potatoes, tomatoes and winter squash. Adam Davidoff and Ryan Power of Sebastopol's New Family Farm dry-farm quinoa as well as potatoes, tomatoes and winter squash.
Tim Page is a cofounder of f.e.e.d. Sonoma, a micro-regional produce distributor in Sebastopol. For more info, visit feedsonoma.com.