On Sunday at the Sebastopol Farmers Market, First Light Farm’s stall was brimming with just-picked vegetables, beautifully arranged. One long table featured mustard greens, collard greens, kales and pretty heads of butter lettuce and red leaf lettuce.
Another table was piled high with Nantes carrots, red beets and torpedo onions that had been cleaned, peeled and tied in bundles. A third tiered table, where farmer Nathan Boone stands with his scale and cash box, had baskets full of colorful summer squashes, butter lettuce and Purple Queen green beans that are so dark that they appear black at first glance. Parsley and dill were tied in neat little bunches and a cooler held two of the farm’s most sought-after crops, pea shoots and sunflower greens.
A new crop of potatoes will be ready in a week or two.
Everything from First Light Farm is certified organic and it doesn’t take more than the exchange of a few sentences to understand that Boone is a thoughtful steward of the land he farms. He is warm, articulate, knowledgeable and eager to talk about the foods he grows with such obvious care and passion.
Nathan Boone began farming in Sonoma County in 2007 and has worked several parcels of land in the last five years. Now he and his partner Jesse Pizzitola, along with two employees, farm 24 acres in Petaluma and Valley Ford.
When Tom and Keidi Kirkland of Oh! Tommy Boy’s Organic Farm in Valley Ford retired from farming in 2009, Boone took over the land that has produced extraordinary potatoes for years. Boone continues to grow several varieties of potatoes but also uses this property for kales and other brassicas, which include everything from broccoli, cauliflower and mustard greens to Brussels sprouts, turnips and cabbage.
This spring, Boone and Pizzitola assumed a long-term lease at what has been Andersen’s Organic Vegetable Farm and Pumpkin Patch for the last fifteen years. This property, located on Bodega Highway, will produce tomatoes, squash, melons, lettuce and the sprouts that are so popular. Fans will be thrilled to learn that the U-Pick Pumpkin Patch will continue, as will the corn maze, said to be the best corn maze in the county. The popular farm stand will reopen sometime soon, too, around the first of August.
Currently, First Light Farm’s market banner includes “Oh! Tommy Boy’s Organic Farm,” implying that the two farms work together. That will change soon, as First Light Farm unveils a new logo, new web site and renovated farm stand. It made sense originally to be associated with Oh! Tommy Boy’s, as the potatoes, once distributed nearly exclusively to high-end restaurants like the French Laundry, had become quite popular at our local farmers markets.
Until last year, First Light Farm operated a CSA but retired it at the end of the season. The farm no longer attends the Occidental Bohemian Farmers Market, either, as they are simply too busy.
First Light Farm is a farm to watch. Boone and Pizzitola are dedicated to farming and to providing wholesome food to their community. Their success and expansion makes one hopeful about the future of agriculture in Sonoma County.
First Light Farm, founded in 2007 and operated by Nathan Boone and Jesse Pizzitola, attends the Sebastopol Certified Farmers Market, located in the town plaza, on Sundays and the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market, located at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts (50 Mark West Springs Rd.), on Saturdays.