By Sustainable Solano
This is an ongoing series profiling local farms that have Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) available in Solano County. CSAs create a way for community members to buy a share of the harvest directly from local farmers. Customers pay a set amount and receive a box of seasonal produce or other farm products in return. Such arrangements help farmers receive a greater share of the money paid, bring customers fresh, local produce and promote health, community and the local economy.
Riverdog Farm chickens forage in the farm’s organic pasture
Riverdog Farm owners Tim Mueller and Trini Campbell started the farm on two acres in Napa in 1990 before moving to Capay Valley a few years later.
The certified-organic farm grows vegetables, fruit, nuts and chickens and pigs. It uses a systems approach to farming with compost, crop rotation, cover cropping, hedgerows and integrating animals into the system, providing natural fertilizer for the orchards and fields.
“[Tim and Trini] hoped to provide a stable livelihood for themselves and their employees while practicing good land stewardship and producing high quality food for their community,” Riverdog CSA Manager Lola Quasebarth said.
The farm began offering a CSA a few years after it started and was one of the first organic farms at the Berkeley farmers markets.
Below is a Q&A with Lola about Riverdog Farm:
- Riverdog Farm
- Capay Valley
- 450 acres
- Established 1990
When did you start offering a CSA? Why was it important to offer?
We first started offering a CSA in Napa in 1994. The Napa farmers markets would close for the winter and many of our customers wanted to keep getting our produce, so we started delivering veggie boxes to the home of one of our longest-running customers (who still hosts a pick-up site at her house now, 25 years later). These days the CSA is central to leveling out the ups and downs in veggie production. The consistent customer base provides year-round stability for our core crew of 50 employees, and allows us to provide healthcare for them.
Are there special perks for CSA members? Why do people tend to subscribe?
Through surveying and talking with our CSA members, we’ve realized that a huge amount of our customers have been members for quite a long time. They’ve been to the farm for our annual Pumpkin Party in October, come visit us at our farmers markets in Berkeley and Sacramento, and many follow the farm day-to-day on Instagram. Members of our CSA have the opportunity to directly support the many families who work to grow, harvest, pack and deliver high-quality Riverdog meat and eggs, and produce. In addition, our CSA customers can add pastured meat and eggs to their weekly veggie box delivery, and we even partner with a fruit farm to offer their weekly fruit CSA boxes to our customers.
What’s something that makes your farm stand out?
One thing that makes Riverdog so special is our dedication to integrating animals into our cropping system. We farm 450 acres but only 90 acres or so is in vegetables at any given time. We give our land much-needed recuperation time, rotating vegetables with grain and pasture for our animals. Even our orchards get chickens running through them at least every couple of years, helping relieve pest pressure and adding nutrients that our trees will utilize for years. By carefully managing animals on our land, we keep the soil healthy and get to provide incredibly nutritious, delicious pastured meat and eggs to our customers. We’re excited to be offering pork shares so that our customers can get our delicious pork cuts and sausage in bulk. The pork share is a variety of pork cuts, cured meat (bacon!) and sausages, perfect for stocking the freezer.
Anything exciting on the horizon? What do you see happening and what do you want to see happen with interest in local food?
We’re excited to continue selling at our favorite farmers markets in Sacramento and Berkeley and love for our customers to come visit us there. We’ve also been happy to see restaurants in Sacramento and the Bay Area buy more and more from local farms, so now you can find Riverdog produce at many restaurants. You can find a full list of grocers and restaurants who carry our products at: www.riverdogfarm.com/markets
Anything else you’d like to add?
Customers can find more information about our markets and CSA and sign up at www.riverdogfarm.com/csa
Find out more about local CSAs here.