Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. No one knows this better than Barbara Spencer of Windrose Farm who had worked with hundreds of musicians and conductors, including John Williams ("E.T." et al) before taking the plunge into the farming business with her husband Bill.
"For the first 5 years, we were very small scale," she explained during a recent visit to their farm. They began with nursery products, gradually expanding to field crops, apple trees, sheep, and more recently herbs. "It didn't come from any business plan, sitting down and saying here's where we're going. It's been a haphazard path but it actually does make sense in its own holistic kind of way."
If true farming is a collaborative work with nature, then Windrose Farm is a beautiful improvisational piece, with human labor, the land, the climate and all the living things -- from birds and bees to tiny microorganisms -- working together in harmony. Although Bill and Barbara began as "accidental farmers" as they like to call themselves, today, Windrose Farm is a successful operation providing produce for the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, as well as dozens of restaurants in both Southern California and the Central Coast.
The key to their success? "The water is really good and the soil is outstanding," says Barbara.
"The soil is granite-based and hard, so the water is sweeter," adds Bill. "We get a lot of publicity so people ask us, who's your publicist? We point to our produce." After that, "it's all about relationships and learning to have consistent product, being compulsive enough to make sure it's all clean and well presented so chefs don't have to take their time to clean something."
It's also about love for what they do. "Farming is not so much a profession as it is an incurable disease, You won't get wealthy from it and it's not a prudent economic decision but a moral and lifestyle choice," Bill tells us, then chuckles, "But you can certainly eat well doing this!"
Windrose Farm products are available locally at their farm or through their website where you can find a detailed list of what's currently available. In addition to farm products and apples (during the season), lamb is also available via private order. If you're lucky, you might find their truck roaming around on Fridays. "We're planning to get more into tweeting so people can find it," Bill promises.
Local restaurants using Windrose Farm products include Artisan, Villa Creek, Bistro Laurent, McPhee's, Fig, Big Sky, Granada Bistro, Cass House, Windows on the Water, Marisol, the Dutchman and Dolphin Bay.
For more assistance, please don't hestitate to call (805) 239-3757.