I would like to thank Michael Hogan for his Open Mic ("Slow Down, You're Here," Dec. 5). This was a kind and gentle way of saying what I have wanted to write for a while now. The roads in Sebastopol have become unsafe, and it is frightening how many near-misses I see everyday. Just last week a child did get hit on a bike in a crosswalk. Cars and trucks are heavy machinery, and we need to respect that and care about others' safety and pace of life.
I also live on a residential road that has become a thoroughfare for commuters and wine tasters. The residents on Olivet Road fear for their lives when getting their mail or trying to turn in and out of their driveway. The speed limit is not something to attain and then conquer; it is for our safety. We are all one family, and we are all trying to survive. Do we have to endanger others while we are doing it? If you moved to the North Bay to slow down, then do it. Please.
I attend the Santa Rosa Certified Farmers market, and because of the diversity of products produced here in Sonoma County, I am able to get a variety of different fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. I thought going to the farmers market once a week and doing my shopping was a way of supporting local producers. Then I had a conversation with a gentleman who handles the marketing for a local organic supermarket, and he informed me that not all farmers markets are local farmers, and that many of the producers are actually from hundreds of miles away. He explained to me that one of the missions of his store was to make sure that, if possible, they purchase food produced within 50 miles of their stores.
After hearing this information I was really confused about what I considered to be my small part in saving the planet. I began doing research, trying to figure out if my strong belief system surrounding farmers markets was now a wash. I found information about the Farmers Market Program; the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service created this program to promote the economic success of America's small farm operators. Small farm operations are those with less than $250,000 in annual receipts, and which work and manage their own operations. An amazing 94 percent of all farms in America meet that definition, and the mission is to make sure that American "family farm" survives. Farmers markets were put in place to support small farmers and allow them to connect directly with their consumers.
So my conclusion is farmers markets are still something to believe in. They support small producers and allow us to get fresh, mostly local foods.
I am writing to urge people to take advantage of the recent rainfall to find out how they can help with the serious problem of storm runoff. Our roads, driveways, buildings and other cleared areas create situations where water cannot infiltrate the ground, and it rushes to the nearest creek, carrying with it sediment and other contaminants.
Currently, a great undertaking is being made to bring the steelhead trout, Chinook and coho salmon back to sustainable numbers. However, our land-use decisions and the overall effects of urbanization continue to undermine the ability of these species to successfully reproduce. Please visit the website of the Russian River Watershed Association to find information on how homeowners can implement storm-water and erosion control on a local level. In addition, the local resource conservation districts can do the same for farms and business.
The Grange is indeed growing, here in Sebastopol and throughout California, as the article ("Estranged Grange," Nov. 28) by Rachel Dovey indicates. I joined in 2010, and find it to be a rewarding and fun group. We meet at the Grange Hall on Highway 12 on the last Tuesday of each month, starting with a potluck—great food—followed by a meeting. We are open to all. The Grange, which I used to attend at our family farm in Iowa in the middle of the 20th century, is a very family-friendly organization. People of all ages are welcome. Check it out.
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