In 1976, two UC Davis graduate students bought 20 acres of land in the highly arable Capay Valley. One of the students, Kathleen Barsotti, was working toward her master's degree in ecology and was determined to grow vegetables and fruits in an eco-friendly way: organically. The organic-food movement hadn't yet entered the public consciousness, and Kathleen worked overtime to convince restaurants, stores, and consumers of the taste-able merits of her process. Over time, given the possible health and environmental benefits of certified organic food, she succeeded. The farm sprouted to 300 acres to accommodate the increased demand. Today, a second generation runs the farm as well as a shop inside San Francisco's Ferry Building. Dubbed Farm Fresh To You, the store furnishes customers' bags or portable cornucopia horns with all sorts of soil-sprouted goods, including heirloom tomatoes, sweet peas, and fresh asparagus. The farm also teams up with fellow Yolo County and Pacific Northwest farms to deliver boxes of seasonal produce to area homes.
Recently profiled by The Atlantic for its members' innovative inventions, TechShop’s supportive community of inventors, artists, technicians, and alchemists share their excitement about the next big idea in an environment limited only by their collective imagination. The 17,000-square-foot smorgasbord of inventive creativity beckons people of all skill levels to its DIY confines, where members can wield tools not found in most private workshops, slicing through steel with a plasma cutter or accessing 3-D design software to finally realize the goal of crawling inside the Internet. Hands-on classes jump-start creative juices, introducing students to vocational skills including welding, soldering, and woodworking. Neophyte inventors aged 12–17 are welcome but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to ensure they don't break physics.
Sprawled across 40 acres of coastal foothills flanked by majestic redwood trees, Yerba Buena Nursery’s prismatic fields brim with more than 600 species of flora native to California. Plants such as ferns, perennials, shrubs, and grasses dapple both the alfresco landscape and multiple greenhouses sprinkled throughout the grounds. Elsewhere on the lush acreage, mature plant specimens and natural wildlife line the paths crisscrossing a 2.5-acre demonstration garden, and an idyllic farmhouse dating back to 1905 shelters visitors for classes, events, and traditional tea services. The resident staff of gardening enthusiasts curates a seasonal stash of greenery for sale and can help to enhance patrons’ own yards or ant farms with astute, on-location garden consultations.
After spending years as a salesman for top mattress lines, Steve Shore needed a new mattress himself. Rather than opt for a steep employee discount on one of the mattresses he sold, the enterprising Mr. Shore collected various natural materials and had them assembled into a mattress that met his exacting specifications: a comfy sleep cushion made with no potentially toxic components. The result was such an improvement over the big-name mattresses he sold that Mr. Shore and his son eventually decided to produce a line of organic mattresses based on the prototype, on which Mr. Shore slept soundly for more than a decade.
Now, the Shore men sell their mattresses under the Eco-Cloud name in The Natural Mattress Store. Made from high-quality steel coils topped with natural latex, Eco-Cloud mattresses resist accumulating allergens and nightmare blueprints and retain their shape and support for years. Organic wool and cotton covers help keep sleepers cool and snug in bed by deflecting body heat and wicking away moisture. Each Eco-Cloud mattress comes with a 12-year, nonprorated warranty. In addition to the Eco-Cloud line, The Natural Mattress Store carries more than 20 organic mattresses, as well as eco-friendly, solid wood bedroom furniture from Pacific Rim Woodworking, Bedworks of Maine, and Vermont Furniture Designs.
A prismatic array of glaze bottles and sparkling glass pieces form kaleidoscopic patterns for guests to splash across create-your-own pottery and fused-glass masterpieces. Visitors select from stencils, stamps, and samples or select still frames from their dreams to decorate ceramic mugs, figurines, and fused-glass dishes. Staff members set up and clean workspaces, as well as package kits for home pottery-painting parties. This means artists can focus solely on siphoning their imagination into their project. The studio regularly hosts parties and meetings, to which guests are welcome to bring snacks, wine, or milk shakes made of ground-up poems.
Effectively capturing significant moments on film is a specialized art form, which can go unrecognized if not displayed well. To help their clients showcase their treasured memories in sophisticated arrangements, Photograph & Frame’s staff developed a system they call “modular picture framing.” This system cuts on cost, using a premade selection of framing goods. Clients can mix and match standardized museum-quality mats and frames, which are all-wood and locally made, to create design-magazine-worthy photo wallscapes. The staff also preserves photos with custom-framing options, cutting mats and forming frames to fit especially large family photos and snapshots that spill into the fifth dimension.
They’ve also curated a selection of photographs from local artists and archives to help patrons decorate their homes in sweeping seascapes and bustling city streets. To ensure the photos’ quality and level of detail, most of the images are developed in a darkroom on Fuji Crystal Archive papers.