We’ll never forget 2017
The October fires have affected us all, whether or not we personally lost our homes. We lost a piece of our hearts and our lives with everyone who did, and we will never forget.
The fires have affected our farms, including losses in our local food and marijuana crops. Oak Hill Farm lost barns and homes and food and flower crops, while Bee-Well Farms, started recently by Melissa and Austin Lely, lost everything. Flatbed Farms lost buildings, as demonstrated by the collapsed tin barn where they held their farmers markets.
Gary and Rebecca Rosenberg lost their Sonoma Lavender Farm, their barn and their home, but they, too, will be back.
Dunbar School lost its school garden, which is being rebuilt by volunteers, while that lovely green fuzz sprouts up on Ramona Nicholson’s hills around Nicholson Ranch where she lost both her and her late father’s homes. It may be my imagination, but I think I see a little green reappearing on some oak trees in some locations.
Bringing up to date the calamity at the former Stornetta Dairy building and homes at Napa Road and 121, passersby now see totally collapsed buildings, not just burned ones.
The fires affected our home gardens as well, and as Lydia Constantini of Sonoma Mission Gardens advised, most of them could be saved by hosing plants and washing vegetables carefully, even with a couple drops of liquid detergent.
Many of us are finding seemingly odd simultaneous blooming, possibly due to temperature and bad air deposits that are bringing us roses, geraniums, camellias, and rhododendrons blooming at once. And even tiny bud-break on our Twin Vines Vineyard merlot vines.
Local produce farms that were not directly affected include Paul’s Produce on Arnold Drive and the Patch on Second Street East, which also grows in Santa Rosa.
Foods during and after the fires
Sonoma Valley’s restaurant community helped save Sonoma, in many ways.
We must realize that with lack of electricity to refrigerate their foods, most restaurants had the choice to either throw away frozen and refrigerated foods, or feed them to people. They chose to do the latter.
First to show up at Sonoma Valley High School, which became an emergency shelter, was Rob Larman who towed his Cochon Volant trailer there and barbecued food for those evacuated from their homes.
Ramekins Culinary School immediately started to feed people who slept on cots in its ballroom. Basque Boulangerie, which former Visitors Bureau director Wendy Peterson called Ground Zero, gave away coffee and pastries to anyone who showed up on that first Monday. On subsequent days the Basque somehow made coffee without electricity and baked free pastries in its wood burning oven, and continued to give it all away.
Andrew Cain, of Santé restaurant, and crew cooked days of food and delivered it to La Luz.
Saul Gropman at Café LaHaye cooked dinner and announced to customers that it was all on him, after which Roger Rhoten at Sebastiani Theatre, whose safe was robbed during the power outage, loaned his generator to Café La Haye so Gropman and crew could continue to feed people.
At Suite D, Sondra Bernstein coordinated more than 50 chefs from near and far who cooked according to her plan to feed firefighters and others, even cutting up the beef that Andrew and Susie Pryfogle cooked out of their Tri Tips Trolley to feed firefighters at the Kenwood Fire Department and at the Glen Ellen fire station. Umbria turned out food for anyone who needed it in the Glen Ellen neighborhood, and that meant lots of people. Aventine and Glen Ellen Inn both had to close temporarily due to refrigeration problems from lack of electricity, some even for smoke damage to open liquor bottles. Many residents around the Valley had to throw away refrigerators and freezers full of food for the same reason.