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A Napa Walnut Tradition

11/02/09 | by slowfoodsf | Farms

A weekend in the Bay Area could lead you to some incredible places and Napa Valley falls high on that list. Slow Food San Francisco has even toured an ecological sustainable vineyard in the area. But Napa has more to offer than just grapes. An engaged Laure Latham wrote to Slow Food San Francisco to be sure our members knew about a wonderful farm owned by John and Margaret Hoffman. She writes of her visit on her own blog (http://www.frog-mom.com/2009/10/hoffman-farm-last-walnut-orchard-in.html) and includes information about the history of the site and her own experiences there hunting for walnuts with her children. On these beautiful November weekends, visiting Mr. Hoffman to admire his amazing orchards (including plums, apricots, apples, walnuts, peaches, figs, etc) seems like the perfect use of time.

But Laure knows that there is more to the story than a good anecdote. Mr. Hoffman is not what you might expect. He is a 93 year old farmer who will graciously offer to help you pick apples by shaking his cane through the branches. In the land of wine (where a truly sustainable vineyard can be hard to find), his farm filled with biodiversity is under constant threat of conversion. Not only would this mean losing dozens of species of plants, it would also mean losing the history of the site-something not so easily converted, something that has to be shared with a family wandering through the walnuts.

Laure described her experience thus, “it’s not everyday that you see a 93-year-old tree-lover go out to plant young trees in his 23-acre orchard surrounded by vineyards. In hindsight, it was fantastic to see something else than grape grow in Napa but the sad thing is, his farm will probably not survive after his death…What a sad thing for our children, to see farms disappear.”

But this farm does not have to be a thing of the past and it seems Mr. Hoffman feels similarly. In planting those young trees, Mr. Hoffman made plans for the future. Perhaps you should pay him a visit and ask what those plans are. You can find him at:

Hoffman Farm,
2125 Silverado Trail,
Napa CA 94558
(707) 226-8938.


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