Continuing their passion for heritage crops grown in Sonoma County, farm market pillars Jeff and Ariel Russell (formerly of Redwood Empire Farms) have relaunched their businesses as Tusque Farms.
“We are not gone. In fact, we’ll be back bigger and better than ever and we need you, our friends and customers, to help us keep all the momentum we have gained over the past nine years of farming,” said Ariel in an email to Redwood Empire Farms fans.
The changeover began last year when the owner of their Rincon Valley farm property died. Heirs decided to develop the small plot of land, leaving Redwood Empire Farms in flux. But through thick and thin, the county’s agricultural community is a tight-knit family who take care of their own. Vineyard managers Melissa and Glenn Alexander offered up some of the Russian River Valley property to the young couple as a partnership. In addition to the Russell’s produce staples (kale, peppers, tomatoes, lettuces and squash), they’ll tap into Sonoma County’s agricultural heritage to grow heirloom grains, hops, prune plums (which have almost vanished), apples and pears.
“We want to grow all the normal, yummy veggies that are standard, but also grow crops and varieties of crops that have historical value to Sonoma County,” said Ariel. “Given the chance to preserve all the best parts of Redwood Empire Farm and then be able to grow even more, we obviously accepted (the Alexander’s) offer,” she added.
The couple plan to continue their CSA program and participate in local markets. “We are still determined to be Santa Rosa’s favorite farm,” Ariel said.