During the summer of 2020, the winding wandering path of life led me to the fertile soil of Stone’s Throw Farm in Colfax, CA. I was blessed to live and work on the property for 4 months which allowed lots of direct contact with delicious plants, amusing animals and humans filled with heart. Today, I am excited to spotlight Bryanna and Steven Eisenhut, my favorite farmers, and the proud stewards of 50 acres in the Sierra Foothills of California. Bryanna kindly took time to answer my questions about the farm and the land.
Would you share with me your best Stone’s Throw Farm elevator pitch? What’s the farm all about?
Stone’s Throw Farm is all about community. Human community, dinner tables of families and friends, carrot sticks shared at recess and lunch, fresh local produce passing into a local chef’s skilled hands and out to a table piping hot to be enjoyed in romance, celebration, and conversation. Soil community, keeping our habitats for soil biology nourished and loved. And where all our systems and interactions coexist, caring for our environment and our planet.
Would you share some juicy details about the conversations between you and Steven that resulted in leaving the city to start a farm in Colfax? I’m sensing many people feeling the call to return back to the land these days, and I’m sure some information on your process would be helpful for those considering something similar.
Steven and I both grew up on farms. Steven is a many, seventh maybe, generation farmer from the central valley. He grew up in rows and rows of almond trees. I grew up in an intentional community, here in Colfax, working together towards self sufficiency. This included a huge garden, orchards and vines. We were introduced by a mutual friend while we were both living in the bay area. He kept hearing us talk about feeling disconnected from a day of work that left our hands dirty and our body’s hungry for a dive into the river, a huge meal and a deep sleep. We fell in love, we quickly realized our shared desires and that together, we could do it! It took us about a year to get our ducks in a row and off we went, into the rural sunset.
How has the land changed over the years?
When we came into the land on which Stone’s Throw sits, it was literally covered in garbage. Layers of lives were found in old barns, in dilapidated storage buildings and boxes and boxes of books, clothes, mattresses and shoes. We called in all our friends, who by the way ALL showed up, who came and spent days with us hauling garbage, clearing brush- I guess everyone likes a hard day’s work! There is still work to do but we’ve worked hard to be stewards of our forested area, the small stretch of creek that passes through, and the soil of our field. Nature wants to rebound and quickly the land is lush, calm, and bountiful.
How has the land changed you personally over the years?
I love living with the seasons. Being in-tune with the changes completely changes the way I sleep, eat, socialize even. The summer is so energized and expansive, the winter is more subtle and cerebral. Being in connection with this land… it’s not that things have slowed down- life is still capable of awesome chaos but I do find myself looking up in the trees to check if our red tailed hawk pair is back, if the oaks are budding out for spring yet, to see the whooping cranes pass overhead. I find myself looking for clouds on the horizon, watching the sun’s path shift through the seasons, shade shifting, buds open into flowers then pods then broadcasting seeds. The kids have taught me where the pollywogs are and how to hunt a frog. I feel acutely in touch with my surroundings, connected to them like never before.
If you could plant one vegetable for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
Oh this is so hard! I love all our vegetable babies! If pressed, I’d say the salad turnip or Hakurai turnip. It is versatile- cooling raw in the summer and buttery and warming roasted in the cooler months. It makes a killer pickle. The greens are fabulous as a pesto or chopped and tossed in a soup. It doesn’t hurt that my kiddos love them too.
How can people support small, local farms?
There are so many ways to support your local farm. When eating out or shopping in your grocery, ask them what is local. If you have a farmers’ market, go! Ask them if they have a CSA- this is a wonderful way to support a farmer and has a rich history. Land access, loan access and market access can present incredible barriers to farmers, particularly black, indigenous and farmers of color. If you know of land or have land, consider keeping these farmers’ in mind.
What’s next for Stones Throw 2021?
This year we are increasing our offering of access to this place through Airbnb stays. We now have two yurts available. We hope as soon as we safely can to offer on-farm meals and workshops. We will be increasing our CSA for more members to join and starting a farm stand! We are so excited and are ready to get started already!