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Business Beat

Business Beat

Flatbed Farm

It was 8:45 a.m. on a sunny Saturday morning and already a line was forming around the gravel-scaped courtyard at the 10-acre Flatbed Farm in Glen Ellen. Charlie, the 100-pound Bernedoodle, and Riley, the 35-pound mini Bernedoodle, greet customers while they wait for seniors’ golden hour to begin at Flatbed Farm. A time when all eyes are on the coveted little boxes of half-dozen fresh eggs neatly displayed behind a basket of walnuts, next to the leafy greens. Apparently, the chickens here lay really good eggs.

Eggs are just one of the things that can be found at Flatbed Farm, a scrappy little farm-stand-that-could, located on Sonoma Highway just south of Arnold Drive. Fresh produce of all kinds, nuts, microgreens, lemons, green juice, olive oil, cabbage, garlic, broccoli, eucalyptus wreaths, and too many other things to name, are all beautifully displayed under a fluttering sun-sail. Flora Coffee also has a stand on the property that is open Thursday and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The hopeful new “now” for this remarkable operation is like a phoenix rising from the compost heap of “then,” which was the devastation of the 2017 fires. A very nicely constructed barn, the centerpiece of the operation, was a total loss along with equipment that was stored inside. I spoke with owner Sofie Dolan, with Charlie (the 100-pounder) sitting on my foot, on a rustic stone bridge and asked her what it was like here before the fires. “We bought the property in 2010 and there was nothing here but a dirt road. Then construction, infrastructure and all that stuff took a couple of years. I’d say the farm stand launched in 2015 with a round table and we were just selling eggs.”

Dolan, who runs the farm with her husband Chris and a band of “busy bees,” says it was a journey of discovery. “What’s interesting is that we discovered it was zoned agricultural after we bought the property, and because we have a restaurant in the city (25 Lusk) and my husband loves to cook, it was really exciting to start farming. Originally, we hired a farm consultant who helped us lay out where and what we wanted to do. There were so many rocks and we realized very quickly that we had to do a lot more work than we thought.”

Fast forward a few tons of rock and the rest just happened organically. “We just started putting tomatoes in the ground and growing stuff. It was mostly just for us at that point. Then with the barn we just had this table that we put out and started selling eggs and tomatoes in 2016, and that’s when we kind of ramped up the whole thing. We wanted to do more than just eggs and tomatoes. We were about a year in and just gaining momentum and then the fire [happened], and then our barn is gone with all of our infrastructure, all of our equipment. Talk about a business going bye-bye. Everything burned except for the greenhouse and a small excavator that someone neglected to put away in the barn.”

Use what you have to the best of your ability, says Dolan. “Everything starts in the greenhouse, so that became the heart of the farm and has been since. We have permission to rebuild the barn as it was. A barn building is considered an outcrop building so it’s not insured the same way other structures are, so no contents were covered at all and that was a big hit. We would like to rebuild the barn eventually.” In the time of COVID-19, outdoor eating and shopping is all the rage, a trend not lost to this operation. “We started doing pop-ups in the greenhouse once a month and the community came back so strong and was so supportive. We started doing every Saturday again, but then it got to be winter and we were like, this isn’t really working. The portable buildings were brought here in August so those are brand new. They are just there temporarily. It’s kind of like a construction office and the plan is that those will be the construction offices when we rebuild the barn.”

It seems that chefs are also into remote outdoor activities. “We’ve been approached by restaurants after we started doing kind of a pop-up scenario and now people are really liking having the option of cooking outside of their space. We will be having pop-up food rotating through once it’s allowed. I have several restaurants waiting.” Flatbed Farm will be a great resource for all of our local gardening enthusiasts. “April is normally when we do a ton of plant starts. Last year we sold 1,900 plants. We hope to do more this year. Everyone wants to do victory gardens. This year starting in April you can buy starts here all the way through the season. We are also going to double the amount of flowers that we did last year as well.”

One thing we are all looking forward to in a post COVID-19 world: “We can’t wait to do music again. We used to have music and food and vendors kind of flea market-style. When we had the barn, we would have five bands come play an hour at a time.”

Flatbed Farm is located at 13450 Sonoma Highway, just south of Arnold Drive in Glen Ellen. Open yearround on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (seniors’ golden hour starts at 9 a.m.). — Paul Goguen Treasure House Consignment Shop – benefitting the community

Tucked in the northwest corner of Santa Rosa is a charming consignment shop called Treasure House. This non-profit resale store is filled with unique merchandise from furniture, rugs, lamps, and home décor to original artwork, jewelry, sterling silver, housewares, and antiques. A picker’s paradise, Treasure House is a favorite haunt of dealers, collectors, and other customers who appreciate quality merchandise and one-of-akind finds at affordable prices. With new items arriving each week, there is an ever-changing assortment of treasures to be discovered. Founded nearly 60 years ago, Treasure House is the oldest consignment shop in Sonoma County and is staffed by a knowledgeable and friendly team of volunteers. Proceeds from sales benefit local charities, primarily the YWCA Safe House. Despite a county-mandated COVID shut-down in the spring, Treasure House donated over $34,000 last year to help alleviate food insecurities and support victims of domestic abuse.

Treasure House makes consigning easy and offers the best consignment rate in the county. Whether downsizing, redecorating, relocating, or clearing out a family estate, Treasure House can help. Feel good about recycling your unneeded items, protect the environment, and make some money too!

Consignors simply send pictures of their items via email, and then call the shop for a consignment appointment. The shop is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. New consignments, donations, and volunteers are always welcome.

Visit Treasure House Consignment Shop at 3450 Airway Drive, Santa Rosa, 95403. For more information, call 707-523-1188 or email [email protected]

Jose Mendez

Jose Manuel Mendez has been a hard worker with an eye for numbers and a love of Sonoma County since he arrived here in his teens. A class preparing simple tax returns at Petaluma High School had a deep influence on his career arc. “I wasn’t even sure what income taxes really were” when he had to file his first return, and he needed someone to help him with it. That person was Grover Ayquipa of Grover Tax Services.

“Then I realized, I know this stuff,” Mendez said. Ayquipa encouraged him to learn more and Mendez applied for and was trained by H& R Block with an intense three-month tax preparation course.

He then worked with Ayquipa’s Grover Tax Services in Petaluma. “We opened an office in Sonoma over the Taqueria La Hacienda in Boyes Hot Springs.” Mendez ventured out on his own several years later, opening an office nearby.

Mendez has lived in Kenwood for the past 10 years and is happy to now have an office at the corner of Highway 12 and Cypress.

He has worked with Spanish-speaking clients (about 90 percent) for the past 13 years, many from the wine industry, helping them navigate the daunting paperwork people find distasteful no matter what language they speak.

“A lot of people just need a little bit of advice,” he said. “And it’s scary when you get a notice from the IRS saying you owe money. People can freak out.”

He has been busy enough to not keep regular office hours. He works by appointment only, and is extremely flexible in meeting clients’ needs. Many people in the wine industry work odd hours. “I need to be there for the client, not the other way around,” Mendez said. Mendez works on personal returns only and can be reached at (707) 478-4917, anytime.

Zapata’s Grill

Fresh, quick, kind, and tasty! That is what Kenwoodians are saying about Zapata’s Grill, the taco truck right in our village. If you haven’t been there, they are located where the old “Kenwood Farm House” used to be, across the street from the strawberry patch, kittycorner to Swede’s Feeds. The colorful decorations in their dining area parallel the pop of flavors you get with any order (with COVID, the dining room is temporarily unusable). When asked what their best dish is, Jesus, the owner, says, “Alambres, a mix of meat with bell peppers, bacon, and cheese with a side of beans.”

Perhaps the zesty food truck was named after Emiliano Zapata Salazar, who became a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920 and the main leader of the peasant revolution. Or perhaps it was named after the occupational term for a cobbler

Chickens at Flatbed Farm in Glen Ellen. People line up on Saturday mornings to get eggs from them.

Treasure House consignment shop is located at 3450 Airway Drive in Santa Rosa

Photo by Jay Gamel

Mendez Tax office operated by Jose Mendez. Located at the corner of Sonoma Hwy. and Cypress Street in Kenwood.

Customers C.J., Justin, Teddy the pup and Brandon wait for their order at Zapata’s Grille at 9255 Sonoma Hwy. or shoemaker, from zapato meaning “half boot.” Or yet another possibility: it’s taken from the places in Pontevedra and Ávila called Zapata. But whatever the reason, shoemaker or freedom fighter, we can all enjoy its great prices, fresh flavors, and friendly Kenwood hospitality.

Their hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 9:30-7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. You can grab a breakfast burrito with potatoes, eggs, salsa, and cheese, or get dinner to go. — Bridget Paul

Photo by Paul Goguen

Photo by Debbie McGowen

Photo by Bridget Paul