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Little Wing Farm: A Growing Investment

Winter 2018-9

 

You’ve probably seen the wooden Little Wing Farm farmstand on the side of Point Reyes-Petaluma Road. If you’re like us, you’ve pulled over to buy some amazing locally grown, organic produce and flowers.

A MALT Protected Farm

What you might not know is that Little Wing Farm is located on MALT-protected Black Mountain Ranch. Recently, through our Stewardship Assistance Program (SAP), MALT helped Little Wing Farm expand its operations and water security so they can grow even more delicious produce.

MALT’s conservation easement at Black Mountain Ranch, secured in 1993, protects the west face of this iconic mountain just outside of Point Reyes Station. In addition to leasing out pastures for livestock grazing, Black Mountain Ranch also leases several small plots of land to produce growers such as Little Wing Farm and Table Top Farm.

The Farmer's Water Challenge

In 2018, Molly Myerson, the owner of Little Wing Farm, approached MALT with a challenge.

“Little Wing Farm has been met with such support and enthusiasm by the community here that demand for our produce has far outstripped our supply,” said Molly. “Agriculture in this area is under increasing threat by ballooning land prices and the pressure to develop. Lands protected under MALT easements are in a much better position to be put to use growing food so that Bay Area communities can have access to goods that are local and sustainably produced.”

Molly needed help with a critical element of farming: water, and irrigation specifically. She wanted to diversify her crops and increase the economic viability of her local business, and was looking to expand the amount of acres she was cultivating.

She negotiated a lease but was uncertain on where the water would come from.

MALT Stewardship Team at Work

MALT’s stewardship team — which is funded by the generous donations of MALT supporters — met with Molly to look at all the options and figure out a solution that would be beneficial for the land, the landowner, and Molly, who farms the land.

After reviewing the options, everyone agreed on a simple solution: to use water from an existing reservoir that is spring-fed on the ranch. An old pump just needed to be replaced with a new pump and new water lines to the farm plot.

MALT created a design and organized the contractor to install a pump to draw water from the reservoir and a pipeline to bring the water to the new farm plot that had previously been fallow.

The Big Picture

What is particularly interesting about this stewardship project is that typically MALT implements SAP projects by working directly the landowners. In this case, MALT worked with Molly, who is a tenant of Black Mountain Ranch. But thanks to some creative thinking by MALT’s stewardship team, this project will have numerous benefits for all parties involved — including the local community.

“By working with farmers and landowners to alleviate some of the financial strain from local markets,” Molly said, “food producers can turn their attention and resources towards what really counts; growing food with integrity, investing in the long term health of the land and creating a resilient food economy.”



Through this grant and significant capital investment by MALT, Little Wing Farm can now begin the above ground work of installing drip lines and planting for the 2019 growing season. As part of the plan, Molly will also plant a climate-beneficial hedgerow to attract pollinators and provide habitat for birds.

“MALT's grant may be small in the big world of finance and farming, but for me and my farm, the infrastructure improvements to my field means being able to provide a better livelihood to my workers and myself because we can increase our output and focus our attention on meeting the demands of our community rather than being strapped by debt,” says Molly.

Thank you to all our MALT supporters who give the resources to work on and fund stewardship projects on MALT-protected properties that benefit the farmers, the land, and the community. Together we are making a difference.

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