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Penngrove Station by Lyndi Brown

Town Musings

Sep 27, 2017
by Lyndi Brown

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The Penngrove Social Firemen’s Hawaiian Luau was a success, raising @ $5,000 for Penngrove Park improvements. Cheers to Kim Hanson for organizing the event each year and doing the cooking. The trip to Hawaii was won by Gabriela Vannier from Kenwood. If you’ve noticed better cell reception around downtown for your Verizon service, it’s likely because of a new cell tower on the V. Dolan Trucking property. It fits right in, designed as a – very tall – faux water tower. Hubby appreciates the help with his Pokémon GO. Penngrove Market partner Rebecca McDowell writes: “We are in the process of resubmitting for permits for our tenant improvements (the kitchen expansion and building of coffee bar and check-out stands) and selecting the contractor. When work is finished and inspections passed, we will open shortly thereafter. As these last many months have demonstrated, it’s impossible to project a precise timeline, but we’re working as hard as we can to open as soon as possible. I’m certainly hoping for sooner than end of the year.” The Green Mill property has been purchased by Bonnie and Jim Bergin for Bergin University of Canine Studies. They plan to move the University from Rohnert Park to Penngrove.

 Passanisi to 8270 Holdings When I pass by the former Passanisi Nursery property near Penngrove, I always miss shopping the huge selection of seasonal veggies and flower starts, bags of soil, pots and houseplants. Since the property changed hands around 5 years ago, I’ve wondered what’s happening now. Seeing a few workers in the front field, I stopped and met Anders “Andy” Olson, who farms five acres in wholesale veggies. He found the property on the California FarmLink website, where acreage is listed for those wishing to farm. Andy grows organic produce for the wholesale market, but says “if you see us in the field, stop in and get some tomatoes, kale, squash or cucumbers. We should have plenty into October, but bring cash or check”. His clients include Novato and San Rafael school systems. “I head up here at 4:30 am with the crew for a long day in the fields, usually until 8 pm.” He also does urban farming in Oakland. We talked about the challenges of farming, as I got introduced to the dreaded flea beetle that eats its way through kale leaves. During the hot spells of August and September, his water bill reached $1,625 a month. He donates a lot of product to food banks, although even a donation has its costs: cardboard boxes cost $3 each, and green plastic baskets to hold cherry tomatoes are 25 cents. Gleaners come to harvest for food pantries, “but don’t last long in the heat,” said Andy. The farmer’s life isn’t for everyone, yet Andy counts his B.S. in Agroecology from U.C. Berkeley with grounding him in organic methods and building the land. He has taught soil science remediation and environmental problem solving. Anyone interested in purchasing organic produce grown by Andy on his farm, contact: monica9olson@gmail.com.

Intrigued by Andy’s farming story, I got in touch with Martin Lipman, a managing partner of 8270 Holdings LLC, which owns the 30-acre site. “We bought it 5 years ago,” said Martin. “We have about a dozen tenants working in various aspects of the agricultural industry, and we’re attempting to bring the structures back to life.” Tenants include an artisan woodworker, a portable miller, a distiller of rose essences and a weaver of wisteria. Other tenants include Bella Terra landscaping, an incubator robotic farming project, and the main greenhouse is occupied by Nova Vine who grows vineyard starts. Aside from this project Mr. Lipman is an adjunct faculty member at Mendocino College in Ukiah teaching real estate property management and real estate investments. He is also involved in numerous real estate property improvement projects around the Bay Area, from remodeling a local Petaluma restaurant to installing a kitchen for a private school in San Francisco.

SMART Update from Supervisor Rabbitt “A Queue Cutter is scheduled to become operational the week of September 25th. PG&E had unexpected delays which caused delays in energizing the site. All the improvements are in place. The Quiet Zone contract is going to the Board of Supervisors on September 19th. We expect improvements to be installed by the end of the month and are hoping to submit the Notice of Establishment as early as the first week in November. Quad Gate contractors were on site Sept.13, working on the foundation of the two new gates. The design process is ongoing and is scheduled to be completed by the end of November. The County is planning to partner with SMART to deliver the project, like the queue cutter, however, if this proves not to be a viable option we would then advertise and bid the work for construction.”

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