Humboldt State University

People on the Ground: Community Profiles

Janet Czarnecki

All farms feed bellies, but Janet Czarnecki's makes sure her Redwood Roots Farm also feeds minds.

The Redwood Roots Farm is nestled in the prime soil lands of the Jacoby Creek flood plain east of Arcata. On the farm's 10-acre plot, four acres are for food production and the other six acres are set aside for natural riparian habitat as part of a conservation easement held by the Jacoby Creek Land Trust.

Czarnecki began farming the land organically in 1999 and has been its sole proprietor since 2001.

Redwood Roots Farm feeds 140 member households through the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Members pay an annual fee that helps cover initial production costs and, in return, receive a weekly share of the harvest throughout the growing season. At Redwood Roots Farm there is also a "U-Pick" section that has a variety of crops including leeks, beets, lettuce, spinach, Brussels sprouts, fennel, herbs, kale and broccoli that members can gather throughout the off-season.

Czarnecki also sells produce at the Arcata Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings. She loves the vibrant market because it encourages strong community relationships by introducing people to the farmers that feed them.

Czarnecki's farm was certified organic through the California Certified Organic Farmers program and since she maintains a personal relationship based on trust with all her customers, she does not feel the need to re-certify the farm.

Czarnecki has no plans on regressing to conventional growing methods.

"I could never fathom why we put poisons on our food in the first place," she says.

If there is leftover food, Czarnecki makes sure it does not go to waste. Food for People, the Humboldt County food bank and the North Coast AIDS Project become happy recipients of the farm's extra bounty.

While Czarnecki feeds her community healthy organic produce, she also strives to feed minds. With the help of a recently hired education director, a variety of workshops and classes are regularly offered at the farm. Schools are also invited to bring students, from kindergarten through eighth grade, on field trips. Tours have been given to garden clubs, Girl Scouts, Easter Seals, Elder Hostel, and scholars from University of California, Davis. A recently built classroom on the farm further illustrates Czarnecki's desire for the Redwood Roots Farm to become an educational center.