Note: This story was published in the Nov. 13 edition of the Union. On Dec. 2, it was announced that Redwood Roots Farm's water supply will end a year earlier than planned. – Ed.
Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
BAYSIDE – For 21 years, Redwood Roots Farm has had all it needs to provide a range of crops for its shareholders – abundant sun, rich streamside soil and the limitless water flowing down through the Jacoby Creek watershed.
But now, with the creek roaring by just to the south and via its strong aquifer below, Redwood Roots finds its existence in peril from, of all things, a lack of water.
A neighboring well from which the community supported agriculture (CSA) farm draws its water will become unavailable in December, 2020.
That gives the popular farm and its 135 shareholders (65 in the winter) a year or so to raise the $80,000 it needs to drill a new well on its own property and connect to the power grid to pump the water.
“Being off grid has worked fine until now,” said farmer/owner Janet Czarnecki. “But for the irrigation system, solar is not enough.”
She’s working with some of the best local pros in their respective fields to get the system installed – McKeever Energy & Electric, Inc. for the solar installation; Rich Well Drilling & Pump for the new well; and Leach Water Systems for storage.
While the farm thrives serving its shareholders, it doesn’t have a lot of cash laying around. “All the money we earn goes back into the farm,” Czarnecki said.
It shows. While not palatial, the farm does have well-developed, utilitarian facilities after 21 years. Along with the charming, semi-enclosed kitchen, there’s a classroom, wash station and distribution shed.
These and other farm features have been built largely by volunteer enthusiasts to serve the farm’s mission of growing fresh vegetables, flowers, herbs, and berries.
Czarnecki, a newly minted sexagenarian, had looked forward to easing up on her 10 hour per day farmwoman's worklife, but the sudden and unexpected water worries ended that idea.
“I thought, ‘Now I can kinda skate...’ Then, boom, this comes up,” she said.
The worrisome, high five-figure cost of creating a new water supply was initially daunting. “I was very, very, very overwhelmed at first,” she said.
But then, just on hearing the news, supporters eagerly stepped up and donated $12,000. That goes a long way toward covering some of the project’s startup costs, and encouraged Czarnecki to proceed. “It is doable,” she said.
A benefit for Redwood Roots was held at Eureka’s Synapsis venue Sunday night, and more events are in the works.
Fundraising letters will be going out, and in March a GoFundMe page will be initiated.
Meanwhile, those wishing to help out Redwood Roots Farm can send a check to: Redwood Roots Farm P.O. Box 793, Arcata, California, 95518 or stop by the farm at 45 Fellowship Way just past the Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and put money in the donation box.
Or they can make a tax-deductible donation via the Jacoby Creek Land Trust by sending a check with “Redwood Roots” in the memo line to: JCLT, P.O. Box 33, Bayside, CA 95524.