Mark Squire of Fairfax’s Good Earth Natural Foods has purchased Tara Firm Farms, the 250 acre Petaluma farm property formerly owned by Tara and Craig Smith. Squire, a longtime organic foods proponent and board member of the Non-GMO Project, has big plans for the rambling organic ranch, but is also committed to maintaining the stewardship and vision of the Smiths.
“We’re just really excited to be stepping into that legacy,” said Squire, will live on the property with his family, including his daughter and grandchild.
Tara Firma Farm, which reportedly sold for $4 million, raises beef, pigs and a substantial flock of laying hens. The produce crops have not been in production for about a year, according to Squire, but he hopes to get them up and running soon. Nearly all of the meat and produce will continue to go to Tara Firma’s 700-plus CSA membership, but Squire hopes that eventually some of the food will be sold at his two grocery stores.
Though he’s already started a composting project at the farm, using the food waste from his Fairfax and Mill Valley stores, Squire said that the farming and ranching of hundreds of animals is a bit daunting.
“For me, personally, and a number of us, that are involved its a huge learning thing. We would remiss to say that we know the hell what we’re doing, so we’re eager to learn and open-eyed and eager to learn,” said Squire. That’s why he’s bringing in one of organic farming’s heaviest hitters, Joel Salatin, to help. Salatin has been a consultant for the farm since it’s inception in 2009.
“He’s been a mentor to the farm since its inception. I’m eager to learn from him,” said Squire. Salatin will be at the farm on April 23 for an all day event including a walking tour, speech and farm-to-table dinner (tickets available here).
Tara Firma became a model for sustainable food production, organic farming and community stewardship in the relatively short time that the couple owned it. Last March, however, an exhausted Tara Smith said that the explosive growth of their 700-plus member CSA had just gotten too big for she and her husband to handle.
In Sept. 2015, Victorian Farmstead Meats’ Adam Parks and business partner, Adam Taggart, took over Tara Firma’s CSA and business operations. The two will continue to oversee the the business aspects of Tara Firma and Victorian Farmstead.
“If we could design a perfect partner for this business and property we couldn’t have dreamed of another person,” said Parks of Squire’s involvement both at the property and in the CSA business.
Parks nearly lost his sustainable meat and butchering business less than two years ago, but after partnering with financial consultant Adam Taggart has grown his operation into one of the largest CSA’s in California, with more than 850 subscribers. This year, Victorian Farmstead Meats and Tara Firma’s CSA will sell the equivalent of 100 cows, 200 pigs, 15,000 chickens, 80 lambs and 8,000 dozen eggs.
“It’s been a perfect storm for us,” said Parks of the last year. “We’re all going to take this business to another level. We’re growing from what Tara built, and now have a perfect partnership (with Squire), Taggart’s business acumen and our lifelong passion for the land,” he said.
Check out this video about the history of Good Earth Natural Foods