New Family Farm, bridge to a simpler past
By ANDREA GRANAHAN / West County Correspondent
The young farmers at New Family Farm were not born to their trade. They chose it with a great deal of thought in a way that is reminiscent of the Back to the Land movement of the 1970s. But in many ways these folks are not your Mama’s hippies.
Ryan Power, 26, his fiance Felicja Channing, 26, their 22-month-old baby, Aniela, and partner Adam Davidoff, 25, support themselves on 15 acres they lease outside of Sebastopol. With hired hand Jenny Hertzog, they grow certified organic vegetables on three and a half acres. The rest are devoted to animals, including the draft horses that pull their plows and the wildlife that travels on the fenced off corridor along the creek below their fields.
The farmers are convinced that tractors could not successfully work the low, wet valley they plant, so they use horses that don’t compact the soil.
“We didn’t break the mold to break the mold. We did it because it feels right,” said Davidoff.
“We wanted to put down roots, have a sense of place, a sense of togetherness. “We wanted a slice of sanity, to eat really good and share the food.”
Ryan Power, left, and Adam Davidoff harvest beets.
Originally from Sebastopol, Power and Davidoff graduated from UC Santa Cruz, where they got an environmental education.
“I didn’t learn much agriculture in the classroom,” said Davidoff. “I interned on a farm in Santa Cruz.”
Channing’s family owned a farm near Santa Fe and used mules to work the land. Said Power, “That’s where I learned the most.”
At NewFamilyFarm, they use draft horses supplied by Work Horse Organic Agriculture (WHOA), a group dedicated to bringing horses back to Sonoma County farms.