What a huge blessing it has been to find this acre of loamy red soil to farm in Coombsville, on the east side of Napa. I have such huge gratitude to Carole and Keni Kent for making their land available to me, and supporting me in launching this dream of running my own CSA farm. In truth, I have actually dreamed about red soil, and I think this is the soil of my dreams. There are no rocks, and the texture is loamy, just the right balance of silt, sand, and clay, and there is no evidence of problem weeds like the bermuda grass I have battled on past farming sites. Soil building will be necessary through applications of compost and oystershell lime, but the conditions here are prime to do so.
On the day before the winter solstice, I begin my work on the land. Two large truckloads of organic compost are delivered and spread. Following the compost application, the acre of land is ripped about 14" deep, using a rhone ripper behind a large tractor, opening up the soil and breaking up the compaction caused by horses being in this pasture for many years. Finally, cover crop seed is spread. We walk the field with buckets, broadcasting it by hand, and my friend makes a final pass with the ripper, lightly covering the seed. When the rains arrive at the beginning of January, the field is ready to take in whatever water rains down, and the legume, grass, and radish seed receive the moisture they need to sprout. It feels amazing to start the new year with a new plot of land. Now, I can truly feel at home in Napa.