It's been a while since I visited Claravale Farm—Ron Garthwaite and Collette Cassidy have been under siege in legal woes that you, dear reader, can help with.
I've written before about the how the Santa Cruz county bureaucracy threw up hurdle after ridiculous hurdle when Ron and Collette's landlords unexpectedly set about evicting from their Watsonville site.
This week, I heard from Ron and Collette, who sent out the following e-mail.
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Claravale Farm is moving to a new location and we need your help.
We would like to thank you for all of your support to date as customers of Claravale Farm and for your emotional support in the face of our permit process in Santa Cruz County. However, after an 11-year long, frustrating and ultimately unsuccessful battle with the Santa Cruz County Building and Planning Department to build the Dairy on our property in Watsonville, we have decided to move. We have purchased property in San Benito County and have begun the permit process to build a dairy there.
While the codes of San Benito county are actually quite conducive to agriculture, unfortunately, as in Santa Cruz County, the county planners are unfamiliar with agriculture and see agriculture not as the asset that it is but as something that people need to be protected from. As our customers, you know the truth of the situation. You know that we use old-fashioned, ecologically and socially responsible farming practices. You know that our products, unique in California and rare in the nation, are a tremendous asset to the people of California. We need to convince the San Benito County planners of these things as well.
If you value our dairy and our products; if you want to see us continue in business; if you want to continue to be able to buy our milk and cream then it is imperative that you take the time right now to write a letter and/or e-mail to the appropriate people at the County (see below) indicating your support. Let them know how you feel about us and our farm.
Following are the important points:
1) It is imperative that we be moved by June 30th, 2007. We have been leasing a facility in Santa Cruz County for the last 10 years while trying to build on our land in Watsonville. This lease expires at the end of June and is non-negotiable. This means, that we need San Benito County to expedite their review process so that we can complete building and meet this deadline. Any delays in the process will put us out of business. We need our permits by the end of April.
2) It is imperative that we stay in business for all of the reasons that are important to you. Express what Claravale Farm means to you—what the milk means to you and your family, why we’re not just another dairy operation, why small family farming is important in food production, why buying fresh and local is good, why we’d be good for the County etc. If you’ve been to the Farm, write about what’s impressed you. Things like “what a clean facility with happy cows” would be excellent.
If you’re a professional or business owner it would be a good idea to write it on your letterhead. Don’t let that hang you up though, everything is welcome. Keep it simple and to the point.
Address e-mails and letters to:
Director of Planning
San Benito County
3224 Southside Road
Hollister, CA 95023
Supervisor District #4
County of San Benito
Board of Supervisors
481 Fourth Street
Hollister, CA 95023
In the subject line put “Support for Claravale Farm.” Please forward this letter to those whom you think would be interested in helping us. Thank you for your continued support.
Ron Garthwaite and Collette Cassidy, owners
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I am happy to write on their behalf—if you want to know more about their farm, read The Sweetest Place, which I wrote in April, 2005. Short facts: in operation since 1927, Claravale Farm is one of only two certified Raw Milk dairies in California, and the only one using Jersey cows.
I'm tempted to CC all the board planners in Santa Cruz county, complimenting the San Benito officials for their intelligence in helping Claravale find a better home. When I think of all the potential income from agro-tourism, how Santa Cruz officials dimmed the luster of our reputation as a region with a culinary vision—diverse and supportive of good health and ecology—well, I think they're a bunch of boneheads who disappoint me terribly. I can only hope that the good folks in San Benito welcome a business as good for the earth—and good for themselves—as Claravale Farm.
Okay, that's all for today. I'll have a couple of farm-y announcements about events soon, but Claravale needs our help today. (You needn't be a resident of San Benito, or even California, if you want to add your support to the idea of an environmentally conscious business providing such a wonderful product to people.)
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things. — Russell Baker
Thanks for visiting. Now get a-writin'!