Saturday, March 28, 2015


Do you have an opinion you'd like to shout to anyone who would listen?  Want to alert the powers that be of an injustice upon humanity?  How about slamming someone (who deserves it, of course) in the media?

Well, here are a few emails that might suit your needs.  I suggest you copy these and put them someplace safe for future reference.


Write to members of the Board of Supervisors, and Sonoma County PRMD Planner Traci Tesconi.

The Press Democrat editorial page editors:

Weekly Sonoma West editor - David Abbott:

Weekly North Bay Bohemian editor - Stett Holbrook:

Monthly Sonoma County Gazette editor - Vesta Copestakes:

Monthly Russian River Times - Johanna Lynch:

Marc Levine - State Assembly District 10
Santa Rosa Address:
Rattigan State Bldg.50 D StreetSuite 301Santa Rosa, CA95404

Mike McGuire - State Senate District 2 Rosa Office:50 D StreetSuite 120ASanta Rosa, CA95404Phone: 707-576-2771Fax: 707-576-2773 (who faxes?!?)

Governor Jerry Brown State CapitalSuite 1173Sacramento, CA95814

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom CapitolSuite 1114Sacramento, CA95814


Here's the follow-up to the school board's decision regarding the safety of our kids on the playing field.

A big thanks to Dennis Rosatti!


Just kidding.  There is no poster to order.  But I thought I'd post this anyway...



Shepherd Bliss of Kokopelli Farms

I recently attended Daily Acts' Community Resilience training for the  thousands of April 16 & 17 events that they plan to organize around the county to encourage people to "save water, grow food, conserve energy, reduce waste, and build community." I can send information about that to those who request it. 

Daily Acts provides good alternatives to the huge Dairyman Winery that wants to locate itself around 2 miles by-how-the-crow-flies from my farm and other such wineries and vineyards that are invading rural Sonoma County. Their training encouraged me to do a similar training on my farm. I had 16 students from Santa Rosa Junior College here yesterday and at least two people from the Community Resilience plan to come today. So I wrote up the following, and send it to you as an invitation to visit Kokopelli Farm some day. Feel free to pass this on to anyone who might be interested. It is important to challenge that which we object to, but also to provide alternatives, especially when it comes to agriculture.


Kokopelli Farm’s Hands-on Trainings, Farm Tours, & Dog Park
It’s Spring! Kokopelli Farm offers free hands-on trainings in sustainable agriculture this time of year. Upon completion of this 3-5 hour work, one is eligible to be hired to pick boysenberries on early morning hours during June and July. Shorter farm tours are also available. Either can be arranged any day of the week. 
Trainings include a description of basic agricultural principles with nature in mind, rather than against it. The following are covered: safety precautions, eye/hand coordination, plant identification, time/energy issues, plant/animal interaction, color differentiation, appropriate clothing, and attention to details. Proper ways to mulch, prune, use hand tools, weed, fertilize, farm in a wild area, and work with a farm dog will also be described. Agriculture will be explored as a productive way of being in nature and learning from plants and animals. We will help teach participants how “to think like a berry.” 
Farms tours are also available for families and for community, church, school, environmental and other groups. Trainings and tours begin on the forest floor of a redwood stand, extend into the ag zone, and beyond into the unique Cunningham Marsh. Given our unpredictable future, it can be helpful to learn how to improve one’s capacity to work the land to grow one’s own food.
Trainings are for those 15 years or older and tours are for people of all ages. Kokopelli also provides a free dog park for non-aggressive dogs, accompanied by humans, to play and roam.
Kokopelli resides slightly south of Sebastopol, up from Hardcore Coffee, off Bloomfield Road. It is small, humble, and rustic. Shepherd has owned and operated this farm for 22 years. Information from 707-829-8185 or We can send you a description of the farm or schedule a training or tour, as well as a photo of our Catahoula leopard hound.


No one is taking our water seriously.  Watch the videos at the bottom of the page we've linked...!prettyPhoto

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Winemaker Paul Hobbs, Repeat Offender
Violates Agreements Again

By Shepherd Bliss
This neighbor drives by Paul Hobbs new Watertrough Rd. vineyard in the Sebastopol countryside many days each week on the way to town.  The vineyard borders on five schools with around 700 students.
Apple Blossom Campus is in the middle of Hobbs' wrath.
Bright wildflowers and vibrant grasses recently appeared in the rows between his young grape vines. Perhaps Hobbs had decided to change his colors, as he agreed to do so as part of a $100,000 settlement with Sonoma County.  It could have fined him millions of dollars for his repeated violations in at least three cases, including causing soil erosion into a creek off Watertrough and clear-cutting redwood trees without permits.

Composite of Hobbs in front of his Jenkel property work.
Alas, last week the plants were brown and dying.  Then emails arrived from other neighbors and parents, who formed the Watertrough Childrens Alliance (WCA) back in 2013. They had seen someone in protective covering and a mask spraying from a tractor and tank early on March 20, a school day.
WCA had scheduled a barn sale that weekend to help raise funds for an ongoing lawsuit against Hobbs.  So this neighbor went and listened to an animated discussion on what was happening and how to respond to it.

Ernie Carpenter has a message for Mr. Hobbs
"I love our Orchard View School, which my son attends. He is very sensitive to chemicals," commented Hilary Avalon.  "It would be a shame if we had to leave the school for something like this invasive process.  If CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) had been applied, this spraying might not have happened.  The schools are impacted and my child is affected.  The law needs to be strengthened."
Winemaker Paul Hobbs broke promises again on a windy school day.  He had agreed not to spray without informing Apple Blossom and the other four schools on Watertrough within 24 hours before spraying, so that families could be alerted.  He failed to inform them, as promised.
A shot taken just last week in the wake of Round-Up
Concerned rural neighbors and a teacher made the following comment, all requesting  anonymity:
"Has anyone noticed that the entire PAUL HOBBS Vineyard has been rounded up with biocide?  My sinuses have been raw all day.  Vines are not in the ground yet and they continue to spray and then kick up that dust for all the students and staff to enjoy.  Do you know who can stop this guy?"
"Hobbs has so much money. He is on a power trip.  We don't trust him.  If we could get him to really go sustainable, that would be good."
"We smelled the pesticides on two different days, early in the morning.  They had a small tank that they were spraying from."
"They put in a big pump for water.  It sucks our wells dry.  The last time a nearby vineyard put in a well to irrigate, our wells went down.  All this in California's fourth year of drought, when residents are asked to conserve water, whereas Hobbs can use as much as he wants."
"After they cut the apple orchard, there are now more winds. He also took out a redwood grove.  We get a wind tunnel all summer long.  I have to wipe the dust off every day."
"Taking out the apple trees was horrible.  This big giant equipment ripped out the trees and turned them into dust."
"At least one child was sent home sick."
"I developed a low-grade headache from the spraying."
"I call this Hobbs toxic playground," said one grandmother.
The wires for the trellis aren't even installed.
Hobbs promised to communicate to his buddy Superintendent Barbara Bickford about when he would spray, but he did not.
The head of the school board is concerned by this spraying.  They will meet on April 9 at 4:30.
Round-up was recently classified as cancer-causing, which might have been what Hobbs used.
Hobbs wine is full of pesticides. It comes at the cost of children's health and redwoods.
Hobbs promised to not spray until next year.
Hobbs had a great opportunity to do the right thing, which he blew.
This is Hobbs saying F.U. to the community again.
"Our technical case for a permit violation by Hobbs was not dismissed on March 2," an observer of WCA's court case commented.  "The judge agreed to make a ruling in 90 days.  Hobbs agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that he would give 24 hours of notice before spraying, which he did not do in this case."
San Francisco's North Bay large winemakers routinely violate the weak rules regarding their practices and are seldom fined, according to the daily Press Democrat, March 11, 2015.  Those rules need to be enforced and strengthened, especially as we enter an even more-dry drought.
The Economist magazine reports that it takes around 30 gallons of water to make one glass of wine. Water is used for many purposes, including irrigation, cleaning, and frost protection. Whereas Hobbs' wine costs up to $300 dollars a bottle, he extracts groundwater for free, while the rest of us are encouraged to conserve.
At press time, it remained unclear what Hobbs was spraying. Perhaps it was Round-Up. According to a March 21 AP story from London, recent studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) document that its use can cause cancer:  One of the world's most popular weed-killers, and the most widely used kind in the U.S. has been labeled a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Fortunately, there remains many hard-working, local, ethical grape-growers and winemakers who do follow the law. Some are even organic and biodynamic and work to preserve the environment, rather than assault it, as Hobbs does.
WCA has a flyer with the words...
Don't Spray Where We Play
Take a Stand to Stop Pesticide Drift on our Playgrounds.

For those not wanting to purchase such tainted wine, Hobbs sells wine under his own name, Paul Hobbs, as well as under the labels Crossbarn and Vina Cabas.  More information is available at:

Donations to WCA can be made by visiting They can also by made by PayPal to or by a check to O.W.L. Foundation, 1390 McDowell Blvd # G306, Petaluma, CA. 94954 with WCA on the check.
Shepherd Bliss teaches college, farms, and has contributed to 24 books


Hello Friends, 
I have heard that the school board is being asked to re-consider one of the TPE  (thermoplastic elastomer) infill products for the sports fields at Analy and El Mo.

This is not something we want to consider because it is another product that is made of various compounds that will be breaking down in the sunlight over time and exposing our kids to plastic dusts. There is evidence that TPE’s also can cause more injuries to the joints as it gives and moves a lot during play. Lets keep the fields as natural as possible and push the organic matter infill and specifically the GeoTurf product as it is the most vetted alternative.
Please consider writing a note or calling as soon as possible so the board can digest our wishes! Thank you all for weighing in on this issue.

The board meeting is this Wednesday the 25th at Analy’s library. We are told 7:30 is the time for this item on the agenda, but it will likely be a bit later.
It will probably be a finished story after this meeting as they will be deciding on a product.

Here is the note I sent the board last Friday along with a call to the board members numbers available in the talking points attachment:

Hello community leaders,

I want to take a minute to thank all of you for listening to the parent and sport community and making a decision to ensure our children are playing on a safe surface as we move forward with replacing the grass fields at Analy and El Molino. I also want to reinforce that the Geo-fill product has great recommendations from the city of San Carlos, Piedmont and San Mateo locally. This article shows parallel discussions and concerns raised in the Gaithersburg community and the end choice of GeoTurf as a “home run”!

I hope to share this enthusiasm in choosing a GeoTurf/Geo-fill product next Wednesday.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Please act on this now


THE PROJECT: JJW Real Estate agents for Joseph Wagner of Rutherford, Ca. has requested a use permit for a huge winery and distillery at 5150 Sebastopol Road (HWY 12) Santa Rosa. The projects includes:
ð    Production of 500,000 cases of wine
ð    Production of 250,000 gallons of distilled spirits
ð    64 yearly events with up to 600 attendees.
ð    Events to run until 10pm
ð    87,000 square foot of production and office areas
ð    Public tours and tastings 7 days a week, open 10-5 pm for retail sales

STATUS: Sebastopol’s City Council unanimously voted against this project at their February 3 meeting, but they do not have authority to stop this. The Permit Resource and Management Department (PRMD) of the County are now reviewing the application. Traci Tesconi is the Planner assigned.

TRAFFIC, GREENHOUSE GASES AND SAFETY CONCERNS:Dairyman proposes to produce 1,500,000 gallons of wine and distilled spirits; their 40 acres of grapes will only yield 15,000 gallons of grape juice, thus they will be trucking in 99% of their raw materials.  This will result in tremendous greenhouse gas emissions and traffic hazards on Highway 12 and the Joe Rodota Trail.  Trips for raw and finished product, employees and weekly events will total approximately 33,866 trips along Highway 12 and across the Rodota Trail. Think of the greenhouse gas emissions, the wear and tear of the county’s highway, the intrusion over the Rodota Trail; a disastrous safety hazard for bicyclists and walkers.
WATER USAGE/DROUGHT CONCERNS: We are in a drought with no foreseeable end in sight.  30 gallons of water are needed to produce ONE GLASS OF WINE! The Dairyman application grossly underestimates water usage for this massive production/event facility. The public’s access to water to drink, wash and grow food should trump any arguments about tax revenues or jobs.  Overbuilt Napa County has to truck in water and truck out wastewater for their wineries. Are we next?
LAGUNA de SANTA ROSA. The Laguna is the county’s richest area of wildlife habitat, and the second largest freshwater wetland in coastal Northern California. It is the most biologically diverse. It drains a 254-square-mile watershed encompassing nearly the entire Santa Rosa Plain. It is an important stopover on the Pacific Flyway and home to a wide variety of wildlife of more than 200 species of birds and endangered salmon, steelhead, salamanders and plants, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, mink, badger, and river otter.
This industrial factory/event center would have a dramatically destructive impact on this sensitive, vital environmental region.  The lighting and noise generated by nighttime events threaten a disastrous impact on local wildlife, including the migratory birds of the Pacific Flyway.
COMMUNITY SEPARATOR: Such an industrial development in a community separator violates the intent of the greenbelt surround for urbanized areas. This converts Ag zoning into industrial bottling and distillery use rather than Ag.
"Follow the progress of the Dairyman project                   and the fight against it on Facebook 
Take action now. Write to members of the Board of Supervisors, and Sonoma County PRMD Planner Traci Tesconi.                                                           
Daily Press Democrat editorial page,
Weekly Sonoma West editor David Abbott:
Weekly North Bay Bohemian editor Stett
Monthly Sonoma County Gazette editor Vesta
Monthly Russian River Times: Johanna Lynch
Thank you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


File this under: SCARY.

Paul Hobbs: Not exactly a concerned citizen.

Has anyone noticed that the entire PAUL HOBBS Vineyard next to Apple Blossom School and the surrounding four campuses has been rounded up with biocide this weekend?  I arrived at school and there was tractor work going on in directly west of my classroom.  He was not spraying, just mowing the poisoned grasses.  My sinuses have been raw all day.  Vines are not in the ground yet and they continue to spray and then kick up that dust for all the students and staff to enjoy.  Do you know who can stop this guy?  Looks like another letter to write… just not sure to whom.

Editor's Note:  Call the Bureau for Water & Air control whenever you see this kind of activity from any vineyard:  415 760 6393


The growing movement to challenge the expansion of wineries and vineyards throughout the North Bay could benefit from more online comments and letters to editors. Many voices make for lighter work. Various recent articles and letters open doors for further comments.

Versions of my article "Sour Grapes in 'Wine Country'--Challenges to Wineries Erupt" have begun to appear in the local, national, & international media, with some links below. My appreciations to the many of you who contributed to it with your comments and edits of earlier drafts. This article mentions struggles throughout Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Countries around the growing intrusion of wineries as event centers into rural communities. The article has already been published by my regular publication in India.

"No More Mega-Wineries" headlines Padi Selwyn's letter to the editor in this week's Bohemian. Carol Vellutini's letter "Sonoma & Napa Residents Oppose Winery Over-Expansion" appears in the March issue of the Sonoma County Gazette. There are also three short letters there on a related issue, under the headline "Paul Hobbs pays penalties for unlawful vineyard development." Anna Ransome also recently had a Close to Home in the Press Democrat. Recent articles have also appeared in Sonoma West. This month's commentary by the SW publisher is not as positive about the growth of this mass movement, so perhaps some of you can address that.

Links to my article follow. Since I only started sending this article out late yesterday, more publications are likely to pick it up. It is important to keep up relentless pressure from many different voices to turn back this expansionist trend of wineries. Feel free to forward these links and this email. If others want to get on this email distribution list, please let me know.

I plan to continue writing about related issues, especially with respect to developing a North Bay Coalition. I welcome news from what is happening in your county. The Napa people are preparing a Press Release, which should be out soon, which could anchor my next article. The Napa Board of Supervisors is meeting on March 10 to discuss this issue, among others, and some people from Sonoma County are going. I am hoping for reports from that meeting that I could also write about. 

Thanks for your help,

Shepherd Bliss


Thanks to Nell Hergenrather for this...

The meeting went great! The board voted to move forward with more detailed installation costs for the Geofill (cork and coconut) and the PureFill (100% Cork) infills. The project is still on target for being sent off with no delay although, there was some grumbling about their ability to get the $’s all hammered out by the next meeting on March 25th- for irrigation plans etc.

The board didn’t go forward with the architect’s recommended product of another type of encapsulated kind of rubber infill - that there are no safety studies on. Football guys tried to say the organic products were “dusty” and toxic in their own right, but that didn’t fly. Our board was truly thoughtful and committed to our kids, it was awesome to see it all in action.

Thanks for your help with outreach, we had about 50 people in the room and my guys totaled about 30!!


Here's an article of interest to those concerned...

Thanks to Shepherd Bliss.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Just to remind you...

The school board will be deciding tonight whether to replace the grass on two local football fields with artificial turf.  Analy and El Molino would have their fields replaced this summer.  We need a better way to do this without exposing our kids (and the environment) to this material.

See post below for articles:  "Say 'NO' to artificial turf".

See previous post:  "Urgent: The health of our kids..."

Turf replacement will be addressed at a special meeting TONIGHT!

Meeting is open to the public at the Analy Library.

Meeting starts at 7:00pm

Many agenda items so this issue would probably be discussed around 8:00pm.

Let's not allow our kids to be exposed to this toxic alternative to grass.


I do hope you can write a letter and inspire others to do so as well. Even though I feel like the meeting went well, there were crumb turf lobbyists in the room and I am told they will continue to push their product on the board and the Director of Maintenance.

We need to have twice as many people showing up March 4th and have 50-100 more letters from the community to the board. This project will impact the Laguna hugely as the Analy fields are literally on the edge of our “preserved” and endangered wetlands. The Laguna flows into the Russian River watershed and anyone who is involved overseeing them should be very concerned as well, that the 4 million dollar upgrades have no environmental impact reports. The Director of Maintenance applied and received some kind of waiver. Meaning that she doesn’t have to do an environmental impact report.


Write to: