We’ve just begun to resurrect a family farm in San Lorenzo. When I say San Lorenzo, people look at us like, “where?” Actually San Lorenzo had a rich history of farming. Originally the area was part of a Spanish rancho, spanning many miles of fruit orchards and ranches. Later it became a place for Italian, Portugese, and African-American small-scale farmers. These “truck farmers” raised cherries and corn, rhubarb and pumpkins–they took the produce to the streets of Oakland in trucks to directly sell to the people.
In the 1960s and 1970s, San Lorenzo became the ‘burbs and over the farmland, they built houses. Some people, like Peter and Beatrice LaBrie, kept an acre of land and kept farming. Peter and Bea were from New Orleans and they planted sugar cane, raised rabbits and chickens. In the 1990s, the farm went quiet, grass grew, the old barn became filled with old books and clothes, the pumphouse stopped drawing water from the well, the exisiting fruit trees kept making fruit for the family.
Now, in 2010, some of the LaBrie heirs started to think the farm should be resurrected. So we’re going for it. First, we have to clear it out, clean up the barn, and plant seeds. Our hands are dirty, we’ve been wearing dusty masks, and chopping down grass using a machete and a weed wacker. It’s hard work, but feels satisfying. Our plan is to raise dairy goats, rabbits, a few chickens, and French and Italian heirloom vegetables. We’ll sell at farmers markets, through direct sales at a pop up farm stand, and to local stores and restaurants.
This blog will tell the story of how the farm unfolds.