Curbstone Valley Farm is a small 8 acre holding in the Santa Cruz Mountains. To call it a ‘farm’, at least at the moment, is probably a little hopeful. At the moment our ‘farm’ is mostly comprised of some Buff Orpington hens. This property has been neglected for years. Sudden Oak Death runs rampant here, perpetuated by the vast numbers of bay trees on the property that serve as vectors for the disease. When we acquired the property, it was clear that we would need to do a lot of clearing, both to remove the dead trees, and to meet fire code around the structures on the lot.

When we first moved here, we were mired in the depths of a dark forest. As we began to remove some of the diseased trees, it became clear that some parts of the property actually receive full sun for at least 8 hours a day in summer. As we got to know the place better, we also appreciated that the soils drain very well here, although the soil quality is generally poor. We soon began plotting and scheming to figure out what to replace the sick trees with, as planting more oaks didn’t seem very sensible…

The ‘plan’, not that it’s carved in stone, is to encourage the redwood trees to return in the wooded areas of the property, and discourage the bay and douglas fir from taking over. The shade of the redwood trees will help to further encourage the western sword and bracken ferns that grow in abundance here, along with other natives including trilliums, iris, and roses. In the sunniest areas of the lot, mostly on the western facing shallow slopes, we are currently laying the groundwork for an organic orchard and vegetable garden area, and hope to have both planted by late fall.

In the meantime, we have the chickens supplying us with eggs, and lots of high nitrogen fertilizer for the compost pile, so we can get our plants off to a good start. As the farm evolves and grows, we’ll post updates here, including a few recipes now and then to help inspire you to use your own fresh fruits and vegetables.