Long Meadow Ranch Announces
Acquisition and Reopening of Rutherford Gardens
August, 2002, St. Helena, CA
Long Meadow Ranch has acquired Rutherford Gardens, a historic vegetable, fruit, and flower farm located nearby in Rutherford along Highway 29 just north of the intersection with Highway 128. "This historic 5.8-acre property provides us with an opportunity to expand our organic vegetable, herbs, and flower operations on a site that is readily accessible to the public," said Ted Hall, co-owner of Long Meadow Ranch. Closed for the past two years while the property was for sale, the familiar roadside stand will open to the public on Thursday, August 8. "We are committed to making our diversified farming operations commercially viable - and visible to the public. We want people to learn how quality food is grown by seeing a little bit of the gardens when they stop by to make a purchase, " Hall added.
Rutherford Gardens will feature a rich collection of heirloom tomatoes as one of the principal crops. "We have over sixty varieties of rare heirloom tomatoes," said Laddie Hall, co-owner of Long Meadow Ranch. The Halls have enlisted the consulting help of Jeff Dawson, the well known organic farmer, who is the garden curator at Copia: The American Center of Wine Food and the Arts, and the designer of the gardens at Fetzer Vineyards in Mendocino County and Kendall-Jackson in Sonoma County. Over the years Dawson has built a collection of more than 300 tomato varieties from which the Halls drew a selection to present in this inaugural season. "We envision visitors stopping by for a tomato tasting much like they do elsewhere for a tasting of a new wine release," said Mrs. Hall.
In addition to tomatoes, the gardens will feature freshly cut sunflowers. "We have built on our more than ten years of experience in growing sunflowers for the St. Helena Farmers' Market," said Christopher Hall, son of Ted and Laddie who is also a 10-year veteran of the farmers' market."We have chosen varieties that keep well and don't shed their pollen." Planted in succession, the sunflowers are expected to be producing over at least an eight week period beginning in mid-August.
Beyond the tomatoes and sunflowers, Rutherford Gardens will also feature fresh basil, melons, figs, and a small crop of sweet corn. "We have quietly test marketed the roadside stand on a couple of weekends with our early crop of Black Mission and Calimyrna Figs," said resident manager, Sandy Cox. "We have some very old trees that produce beautiful fruit. In addition to local residents, we had many foreign visitors stop by to try our figs. The rest of our crop went to local restaurants like Martini House and La Toque for a special dessert treat." Cox recently took up the assignment of being the on-site manager for Rutherford Gardens after operating her own specialty salad mix and flower business in Oregon, where she was also a Master Gardener.
The Rutherford Gardens property has been in vegetable production at least since the 1930s and has never been planted in wine grapes, which is quite unusual because of its location in a very well known red wine appellation. "While we could always plant some great Rutherford appellation Cabernet Sauvignon on this property, we wanted to explore the viability of the traditional crops," said Ted Hall. "I am very excited about the initial response. As the word has spread we have received many unsolicited calls from restaurants asking how they can purchase our produce and we know that we can count on the support of our established local customers."
Come the fall a "you pick'em" pumpkin patch is planned. Over two and a half acres are planted in pumpkins. "We have a wide variety of pumpkins - from classic jack-o'-lanterns to sugar pumpkins to the Great Atlantic giants - so we hope to bring a little of the old-fashioned fall season back to the up-valley neighborhood," said Hall. "We were looking for a quick way to produce a crop that would be interesting and fun because we didn't close on the property until late April. Pumpkins were the answer."
More extensive plantings are planned for the fall season and for next spring. "We plan to take advantage of the greenhouse on the property and to learn from our customers what we should plant for the next seasons," said Hall.
Vegetables and flowers are only two of the many products created by owners, Ted and Laddie Hall, and son, Christopher, at the roughly 600-acre main location of Long Meadow Ranch. The property, known as Long Meadow Ranch since the turn of the century, was an original "patent grant" ranch signed over by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, and is located in the western hills high above Rutherford. "From our perch at 1000-feet elevation, we can see Rutherford Gardens clearly below us - and vice versa," said Laddie Hall.
Having been home to a variety of uses during its long history, Long Meadow Ranch continues to grow and prosper through the Halls' stewardship. In addition to restoration of the olive groves, new vineyard plantings, wine and oil making, Appaloosa horse breeding, organic vegetable gardening and egg production, the Halls' activities now include their premier herd of Highland cattle. This highly prized beef - also raised by Britain's royal family - has just made its debut in the Napa Valley.
A small herd of the Highland cattle have already grazed on the pasture at the back of the Rutherford Gardens property and a flock of egg-laying poultry is also planned. "Look for us to have some surprise additions to our offerings at the roadside stand," said Ted Hall.
"At Long Meadow Ranch, we set out to achieve excellence through responsible farming. World-class products can be produced using simple sustainable farming methods," says Hall. "We have developed an integrated farming system that relies on each part of the Ranch contributing to the health of the whole. We will extend this philosophy to the Rutherford Gardens location and share it with the public." Rutherford Gardens is already being farmed in keeping with the Halls' organic practices and the produce will be certified as organic after the required three-year transition period is completed.
Rutherford Gardens is located at 1796 So. St. Helena Highway and will be open Thursday through Sunday from 11 AM to 5 PM when produce is available. E-mail inquiries may be addressed to email@example.com. The Ranch's wine, olive oils, and beef can be purchased through the website at www.longmeadowranch.com or by calling toll-free to 877-NAPA-OIL (877-627-2645).
Contact: Monty J. Sander