Molly Nakahara, Paul Glowaski and Cooper Funk first met as members of the 2006 apprenticeship class at University of California Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. They quickly learned that they all shared a common vision and began talking about what they called “Dream Farm”–a farm that would not only feed people sustainably, but also provide education and training.
In the years between their apprenticeship and their acquisition of 30 acres in Chicago Park, CA, the three continued their work in sustainable agriculture. Molly worked as a garden and nutrition educator in Hayward, CA, while Paul worked at the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz, CA. Cooper worked as a carpenter and, along with Paul, founded Urban Eggs, a backyard poultry consulting business.
But in 2010, “Dream Farm” was finally realized when they established Dinner Bell Farm, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in northern California. “Dinner Bell is more than just a commercial farm,” says Paul. “It’s about sharing food, increasing understanding over food, and nostalgia for a time when that was commonplace.” While Cooper and his family eventually moved away, Molly and Paul remained on the property, eventually joined by their son, Yoshi.
Today, Dinner Bell Farm specializes in Certified AWA pastured pigs, as well as sustainably-grown vegetables and wedding flowers. “Our aim is to create a diverse farming system that focuses on soil health and regeneration,” Paul explains. “We grow thick stands of cover crop which are tilled into the spring soils, which help to minimize soil nutrient losses over the winter. We raise our animals on pasture across the farm, but they also play an integral role in the production of our fruit, vegetable and flower crops by helping to build soil fertility and control weeds and pests.”
Managing this integrated system requires a lot of skill, effort and real commitment. “People deserve good food and animals should be treated with respect,” says Paul. “It’s a challenge to stay dedicated to those principles, but farming is built on honor and integrity. If we have to compromise on these things–producing the highest quality, using organic feed, traditional breeds, rotational and pasture-grazing–then we’d rather not be doing it.”
Paul and Molly chose Mangalista and Mulefoot hogs because of their suitability to pasture-based farming. Both are traditional breeds, known for their good temperaments, hardiness, disease resistance, foraging ability and flavorful meat. The hogs are raised in mobile paddocks that provide them with nutritious and diverse forage as well as constant stimulation and engagement. Raising their pigs outdoors on range and forestland in this way enhances the ecological integrity of their land, and produces healthy, happy pigs.
Molly and Paul applied for AWA certification for their hogs because it can be really challenging to teach people that there is a difference–that their dedication to pasture-based farming is more sustainable and produces meat that not only tastes better, but is also more nutritious. They hope that the integrity and transparency offered by the AWA label will help them tell this story to customers throughout the California foothills and San Francisco Bay Area. “We farm because we love this Earth and we believe that ecological agriculture is part of the solution,” Paul explains. “We farm because we believe that nutritionally dense food is a right. We farm because we believe that there is a better way to treat the animals we eat.”
Certified AWA pork from Dinner Bell Farm is available through the farm’s online Meat Club with deliveries to the San Francisco Bay Area. You can also buy direct from the farm in Chicago Park by appointment. To learn more about the farm, visit www.dinnerbellfarm.com, or contact Paul and Molly at firstname.lastname@example.org.