The Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market has a new vendor that I am very excited about. Marin Roots Farm is one of my favorite farm booths whenever I attend the San Rafael Civic Center market and I was really pleased to see them show up at the FPFM a few weeks ago. "How long have you been here?" I asked the farmer, Jesse Kuhn, thinking that I'd been missing them for weeks. "About 6 hours," he replied.
The Marin Roots Farm booth is a thing of beauty. The farm specializes in lettuces, leafy greens and root vegetables. It's typical to find many varieties of lettuces and there is no other booth in the market where I have to ask "what's this?" as often as at Marin Roots Farm. Which is a good thing -- it's fun to take home a bag of new greens to try. Because of Marin Roots Farm, I have started to use chickweed, a nutty green that I often toss into a dish raw or put on a sandwich, and ancho cress, a spicy green that can be eaten raw.
Marin Roots Farm is a 10-acre certified organic farm west of Petaluma. The farmer, Jesse Kuhn, leases a piece of land on a 250-acre dairy farm. His farm is located between several large farming operations -- backs up to a 1100-acre cattle ranch. Marin Roots Farm is a relatively young farm, as it's been in existence for four years. Kuhn didn't have to put the farm through a transitional phase (required when transitioning conventionally-worked land to organic) which can take up to three years. Because the land before Kuhn arrived was pretty pristine, and it was allowed to move through organic certification quickly.
Kuhn knew that he was interested in farming and went to school for it and spent some time working on other farms. He leased the Petaluma property because of the size, the quality of the land, and its proximity to a good water source. The hardest part about starting up the farm, he said, was the unknown of giving up his full-time landscaping job and leaping to a job without guaranteed income. Fortunately, a USDA loan came through "just when I needed it most." He currently has 5 people working with him in the field, and a couple of people working at farmers' markets.