Taylor Maid Farms got its start in a barn on a beautiful piece of property in Occidental that shares the same name. From those humble beginnings of roasting organic coffee and harvesting tea herbs, Taylor Maid Farms eventually moved into Sebastopol, where we could properly set up shop. First in The Barlow, then over to our the space on Keating Ave and finally back to The Barlow, we've seen the area change and grow, us along with it. Chris and Terry Martin still live and work on that beautiful farm in Occidental and we're beginning to explore new ways of incorporating it into the work we do at our roastery and in our coffee bars. Just last week, a group of TMF staff trekked out to Occidental to experience the farm firsthand.
TMF Graphic Designer Natalie Fry put her adventure to words, please enjoy!
Bordered by redwoods and vineyards, Taylor Maid Farm is situated on 106 acres spanning fields and hillsides with stunning vistas of coastal ranges and a distant, foggy Point Reyes. With Jenay Martin, TMF owner Chris Martin's daughter and caretaker of the farm, we embarked on a hands-on tour.
Encouraging us to pick and snack on whatever we liked, Jenay led us to a greenhouse of carrots, tomatoes, mammoth-sized bok choy and kale. We then visited fields with circular plots of tea herbs and rows of cut flowers. Much of the produce and flowers grown on the farm are sold at the Occidental Farmer's Market, used for local weddings, and provide instant meals for the resident farmers and Martin family.
"We don't like squares here", Jenay explained as we entered a medicinal herb garden oriented in spokes. Each segment of the garden was dedicated to chakra supporting herbs and plants. Similarly, the ‘Circle Garden’ was planted in arcs positioned north-south-east-west. In addition to growing fruits and vegetables, the farm also serves as a site for yoga retreats, organic farming workshops, and farm-to-table events. Walking down a sloping hill, the property leveled revealing a beautiful custom deck covered in vibrant passion fruit flowers, a long communal table under a grape arbor, and several themed yurts on the periphery.
We then worked with the resident farmers to gather tea herbs like peppermint, spearmint, calendula flowers, lavender, pineapple sage, and raspberry leaves, making sure to keep the leaves out of the direct sunlight to preserve their moisture. The raspberry plants were sprinkled with ripe fruit, making for a delicious, perfectly sweet mid-harvest snack. Even after spending just a few minutes plucking pineapple sage flowers, I had a newfound appreciation for the labor-intensive process of the tea harvest! We then set the leaves and flowers to dry on racks in a small shed. Taylor Maid Farm had originally supplied the company with herbal teas, something that Jenay hopes to re-kindle in the near future by offering small batches at our coffee bars.
Amidst impressive compost towers, we were given a dry compost demonstration. First, dry, brown materials like branches form a circular base, followed by loose “doughnut” layers of dry and green leaves. Topped with grasses, the final compost pile will reach about 4 feet and within a few months will provide nutrient rich soil, aiding in water conservation. An on-site pond is also a water source for irrigation.
Our harvesting efforts were then rewarded with several piping-hot brick oven pizzas with farm-grown toppings like roasted beets and greens. A strawberry nutella dessert pizza with basil was a delicious end to an enjoyable afternoon.
I've been a TMF employee for a little over a year and was thrilled to finally have a tour of the farm. It was rewarding to experience both the roots of the company’s history as well as a glimpse at what the farm could hold for the company’s future.