It seems to me that the areas north and south of San Francisco are ideally located for organic growing – excellent growing conditions and the wealth of San Francisco provides great consumer demand for the more expensive organic produce. My son lives and works in the San Francisco area and on previous trips we visited the redwood forests and organic growing areas of Marin county to the north of San Francisco. This time we headed for Monterey with its striking, natural and unspoiled shoreline.
The Pacific Grove area north of Monterey also known as the Asilomar marine reserve, offers sandy paths for walkers and joggers between the road and the sea, and numerous, convenient parking areas. The accessibility to the public, the unspoiled surroundings evidenced by seaweed bestrewn beaches and teeming wildlife, including incongruously a party of 5 deer, is reminiscent of a similar stretch between Trigg and Hillary’s in Perth, Australia. How wonderful as you amble along to see nothing but the restless ocean, its fringes of rock, kelp and spray and immerse in the roar and shush of water and rock accompanied by the shriek of gulls, pelicans and cormorants. The shoreline may not be as rugged as say the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, or the cliffs of Tintagel in Cornwall, but to my mind are just as beautiful.
Our first day trip was to the south along “17 mile drive” through the scripted Spanish Bay and Pebble Beach areas to Carmel and then to Carmel Valley to visit the biggest name in organic produce “Earthbound Farm”. We quickly learned we were visiting not the farm but the farm stand, and that Earthbound Farm certified organic produce is grown by some 150 farmers on farms ranging in size from 5 acres to 680 acres. My biggest impression was the excellent growing conditions – the soil is rich black, the valley provides level open sun exposed terrain, there is ample water for irrigation and temperatures are mild and consistent. Nasturtiums proliferated in cultivated and uncultivated areas – in Georgia I struggle to keep them viable. I was mildly discouraged as I thought of my own plot – the intense heat and humidity, the cycles between drought and heavy rains, the hard Georgian red clay, which becomes so slippery when wet. Then I recalled the words of a former defense secretary: “you go to war with the army you have … not the army you might want” and resolved to keep pressing forward.