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Healdsburg Highlights - June 2015


Healdsburg Highlights - June 2015

by Gina Riner

Earlybirds Place Begin New Venture

After 26 years as a vendor at the Healdsburg Farmers Market, lifelong Healdsburg resident Myrna Fincher and her husband Earl have retired from the market but not from the garden. They custom grow organic vegetables on their three and a half acre Alexander Valley farm for seven of Healdsburg’s restaurants, including Agave, Valette, Barn Diva, Dry Creek Kitchen, Café Lucia, El Farolito, and Casa de Mole. (They will also supply veggies to Charcuterie Asian, a new restaurant opening soon by Agave’s Octavio Diaz.) But veggies aren’t the only thing they grow. For over 50 years Earl has grown gourds and is considered to be one of the best gourd farmers in the area. What began as an inexpensive way to provide his beloved wild birds with natural nesting habitats is expanding into a special gourd patch providing crafters and artists with many types of gourds to use as raw material for art--functional, decorative and musical.

Combining Earl’s expertise in gardening and Myrna’s love of crafting, they are hosting the Earlybirds Place 1st Annual Gourd & Crafts Festival located at 15310 Chalk Hill Rd. in Healdsburg on June 26, 27, & 28. There will be demos and classes on how to craft with gourds. Chef Octavio of Agave Restaurant will be preparing a special lunch on Sat. & Sun. Admission and parking is free. Kid friendly. Wheelchair accessible. There are still a few spots available for crafters and gourd craft teachers to showcase and sell their handicrafts. Contact Myrna at 707/319-1313 or Diane at 707/508-7921 for more info. 

Housing Concerns Gain Traction

Thank you to the several readers who responded to last month’s column about the lack of affordable housing in Healdsburg. Although the housing picture looks bleak, it is encouraging to find out that many people care about this issue. Local resident and Healdsburg Sunrise Rotary Club member Jay Beckwith doesn’t just care, he is actually trying to do something about it. He is working with North Sonoma County Services to create Tiny Houses for a Big Change, an initiative to provide housing and career-building skills to the underemployed and “resident-challenged.” The main goal is to increase affordable housing while retaining local character. “We need places for our children and the working class to live,” notes Beckwith. If you have resources, connections or ideas please contact Jay Beckwith at 707/479-2554 or email

Measure E $35 Million Bond Initiative in Action

Living in a big city, a person rarely gets to experience the impact of how tax dollars are spent. But for the last year my neighbors and I have actually heard the tax dollars in use. After months of heavy equipment moving materials, constructions and trucks backing up in reverse with an incessant high pitch beep-beep-beep, the Healdsburg Junior High campus renovation project is nearing completion. This fall junior high students will enjoy new science and technology classrooms and teachers will be able to park on campus instead of on Grant St. Yeah! 

On June 6, the Healdsburg High School’s three-year improvement project starts (glad I don’t live in that neighborhood). Some of the improvements include a completely renovated Arts & Digital Media Building, new classrooms, a café and instructional kitchen for the Culinary Arts program, and a new Science building. Infrastructure upgrades like wireless Internet access across the campus, new ventilation and heating system as well as earthquake retrofitting are part of the project. These upgrades will ensure that students have what they need to prepare for the next steps in their lives.

As a taxpayer I never mind investing in our youth’s education, even though I don’t have children of my own. Because all of “our” kids deserve the best educational opportunities we can provide.

Congratulations Young Graduates

Kudos to the many Healdsburg youth and young adults who graduated this spring from high school and college, among them: Sarah Winton, Amarica Rafanelli, Hunter Harlan, Katie Greenan, Clay Howard, Maddie Wilson, and Rex Rafanelli (St. Mary’s College). 

Summer Concerts on the Plaza

You can enjoy a variety of free music every Tuesday from 6 to 8pm throughout the summer in Healdsburg’s downtown Plaza. Enjoy an evening with music, food and friends. Bring a blanket and low chair.