Announcing…LaBrie Family Farm

Hey there.

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.



  1. Rachel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    I grew up in San Lorenzo and I always loved passing little farms here and there. There was on in particular, located by Arroyo High School, that I was particularly fond of with it’s big barn and rows of crops. I was saddened when I visited SLZ that it had been turned into homes. I’m happy to see that there are still some farms in the village.

    • ghosttownfarm said,

      April 5, 2010 at 3:04 pm

      hey rachel;
      no way! i’m meeting with the san lorenzo high school farmer this morning. they have an urban farm on the school grounds. i’ll report more soon.

  2. Antoniomo said,

    April 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Sounds like a cool new venture. I look forward to reading about it.

  3. Ann said,

    April 5, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    That is super cool! What a huge piece of property compared to your (squat) lot. I bet the goats will love it. Thanks for the great book, btw.

  4. Paula said,

    April 5, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    So cool! I’ll add this one to my list.

    So I guess because the LaBrie farm has always been there, everything is grandfathered in, like being able to keep the goats and all that.

    I would be all about helping you guys if I just lived close enough. As it is, I’m trying to start my own ‘farm’ though, so maybe it’s just as well. Time would be an issue.

    But hey! Good luck!

  5. elsie said,

    April 6, 2010 at 2:42 am

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to hear of your progress! We are inching toward an urban farm, but we are on the 10 year plan and on the other side of the country, where folks are WAY more uptight about urban farms! We have bees and ducks and a garden …. I dream of a dairy goat one day!

  6. nell said,

    April 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    congratulations, best wishes and solidarity! Sounds like an amazing place with a rich history. Looking forward to seeing how it unflds for you all.
    at hellz half acre in oakland

  7. Femi said,

    April 11, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Great post

  8. Debbie said,

    May 15, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    This sounds so wonderful…we’re part of a community garden in Brooklyn, NY and have been dreaming about farming. How did you come to know the LaBrie family? Are you resurrecting the farm with them? Did you buy the farm from them? Alot of questions, I know…eager to learn how to do this! Thank you for the inspiration. Peace and blessings.

  9. June 9, 2010 at 5:17 am

    So exciting, and I’m eager to read more about it too. I need to find a Colorado or Rocky Mountain urban farm to study too, as it’s a little tougher to grow here than in Cali.
    Do you know anyone in my part of the country that blogs about their farming?

  10. Nope said,

    December 12, 2010 at 1:07 am

    get blogging again girls. people are interested and you can win 100k.

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