Kenwood Press


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Glen Ellen Telegram: 08/01/2016

Glen Ellen Telegram



As we swing into August we are starting to experience those "days of hot." Those days when it's not just warm, or "summer hot," but when pretty much everyone you run into says, "Boy it's hot today." Those days when most folks want to put their feet in a pool, sip a cold drink, or head to the coast to find the fog. Some years those days come nearly in a row, others they are scattered about from June through September. A few days stand out, like one 113º June day I experienced in Glen Ellen, while visiting my in-laws many years before I even lived here. Miserable! If you need to cool off, maybe it's time to visit our town's very own and much beloved watering hole, Morton's Warm Springs.

Sliding into August means it's also the season for vine-ripened tomatoes brought straight from the garden into the kitchen, and gigantic zucchini - those cute medium-sized beauties you chose not to harvest last night but this morning resemble the lead from Little Shop of Horrors. Zucchini season, as Garrison Keillor once put it, is the only time of year that folks in a small town lock their car doors, lest the occupant come back to find green monsters in the back seat.

Out at Bee-Well Farms (at the old Gordenker Turkey Ranch property, off Hwy. 12 near Shirley), they have much more than tomatoes and giant zucchini. They are also busting at the seams with eggplant, peppers, cucumber, a variety of summer squash, eggs, flowers, and much, much more. I recently met up with co-owner Melissa (Missy) Lely at her farmer's market booth in Sonoma where she filled me in on a little bit of their personal history, farm story, and future plans. Missy (originally of Groveland) and co-owner Austin Lely (Sonoma native) met about six years ago when they were both at Chico State studying Recreation Administration with an emphasis in special events and tourism. They share a passion for food and cooking, are health conscious, and they are concerned about community and land preservation. After graduation, they moved to Sonoma and began farming both at their 50-acre lease on the Glen Ellen property as well as on a half-acre down in Schellville, on Austin's family property.

As is very common with farmers, Missy worked a number of jobs (Sonoma Market, Naked Wines, a restaurant in Santa Rosa, then as a concierge and garden coordinator at Beltane Ranch) in addition to farming, which she only this year has made her full-time gig. This season they are selling at three farmers' markets: Sonoma (Fridays), Santa Rosa Vets' Building (Wednesday mornings), and Petaluma (Wednesday evenings), as well as to some local chefs. In 2015 Missy and Austin married. Eventually, they would like to expand in both size and diversity of product, and host their own valley farm stand or cooperative. For now they are still "seasonal" but slowly expanding to a year-round, full-time presence. When they first came to market this spring they were selling a variety of vegetable starts and eggs. Now they have the full compliment of summer produce and flowers, and as fall comes they are looking forward to pumpkins, cabbage, sunflowers, beans, and possibly fruit. On the Gordenker property much of the pasture is used for cattle and chickens, and this year they became first-time beekeepers. Which brings us back around to the name, Bee-Well Farms. Missy tells me that "Melissa means honeybee, so that fits, but it also reflects our dedication to health and wellness."

A happy (and cool) place to visit these hot summer days is Kay Young's Hopscotch Gifts & Gallery in the Jack London Village. The space is a feast for the senses and possibly the hiding spot for a unique gift you've been searching for. I recently set out to learn more about Kay, the shop itself, and the new "Social Sunday" events. The first things you'll notice about Kay, after you catch your breath after taking in the striking colors and positive vibe of the space, are that she is genuine, down-to-earth, creative, and community-oriented. Oh and did I mention humble? It was only after 20+ minutes of chatting that she revealed her personal past, which included national recognition as an artist working with reverse style hand-painting on glass. Her works were on sale in high end department stores and galleries and she had a booming gallery in Alameda.

After the national economic downturn (which hit high-end retailers hard) she re-evaluated her personal goals and moved her family back to her small hometown in Nebraska to raise her kids up through middle and high school. Evolving yet again, she was called back out to the Bay Area with her eye on Glen Ellen. Before opening the current space, she worked with Betty Kelly next door at Wine County Chocolates.

When Kay saw the vacant space she came together with Jordan Celso, and Hopscotch was born in February 2016. As Kay explains, "all of the items for sale at Hopscotch are made in the United States, by artists. No mass-manufacturing. It's all about color, humor, function, inspiration. About 35 percent of what we have is from Northern California artists - Eureka to Sacramento to Petaluma." And she is calling out to all local artists looking for a venue for showing their works or mentoring in making the leap from amateur to professional artist. Kay is additionally looking for local acoustic artists to provide ambience during the Social Sunday events 11a.m.-4 p.m. each Sunday.

Kay's vision is that each social is a chance for community to come together, have some lovely herbal tea and cookies, meet local artists, hear music, and commune with color, humor, and inspiration. As of press time Aug. 7 will feature artist Debbie Harding, and Aug. 14 John Sumner (others may be added). So pop in and introduce yourself to Kay, welcome her to our neighborhood, and do a little shopping.

The buzz from around the bend

It is with great sadness that I write of the passing of Glen Ellen fixture Jim Berkland, on July 22. Born in 1930, Jim was best known as both a poet and earthquake predictor. Jim's life was varied, happy and unique, and in turn he brought those qualities to our community for many decades. This past February Jim Shere wrote a beautiful piece in this paper on Jim Berkland. I encourage you to go back and read it, www.kenwoodpress.com/pub/a/8742, and I hope that you will share your own stories of Jim with myself or with the Kenwood Press so that we can all enjoy the memories.

Do you have any Glen Ellen stories to share? Milestones? Celebrations? Email shannon@kenwoodpress.com, or call 996-3352.
Email: shannon@kenwoodpress.com

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