In Bolinas, CA, roughly 25 miles northwest of San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge, lies the 100-acre Star Route Farms.
The oldest continuously certified organic farm in California, this trailblazing farm sells at three farmers’ markets and to about 80 restaurants in the Bay Area, including some that are Michelin starred and/ or helmed by James Beard Award winners.
In a move that surprised many in the Bay Area, longtime Bon Appétit client University of San Francisco purchased Star Route Farms this summer. The university plans to introduce community partnerships and academic opportunities ranging from cross-disciplinary research and sustainable agriculture to field learning, community education, and programs focused on nutrition, biodiversity, sea level rise education, and more. USF also plans to use the farm to teach tomorrow’s leaders in their hospitality management degree program about sustainability and the real workings of a farm. (This program was conceived years ago by a group of industry leaders, and Bon Appétit CEO Fedele Bauccio has served on its board.) At the same time, farming operations will continue uninterrupted with the property’s current employees.
“Warren Weber and Star Route Farms have been a very important part of the farming and food community for many decades, and I have had the pleasure of buying their pristine produce for much of that time,” said Traci Des Jardins, chef-owner of Jardiniere and Bon Appétit’s partner at The Commissary, Arguello, and Public House restaurants. “The preservation and continuation of this visionary farm will play an important role in educating new generations.”
Bon Appétit Executive Chef Joe DeBono and Resident District Manager Micah Cavolo are excited to be part of this historic partnership. (Star Route was for many years a Bon Appétit Farm to Fork vendor, until distribution issues paused their participation.) Joe immediately began menuing many Star Route offerings including Little Gem lettuce, Walla Walla onions, and purple haricots verts. The team enjoys working with farm manager Annabelle Lenderink and values the high quality of her fresh produce.
“This is a wonderful move by University of San Francisco,” commented Fedele. “We believe in connecting students with where their food comes from and how it is grown, and there is no better way to do that than getting your hands dirty on a farm. Joining a diverse urban campus with a beautiful working farm in Marin will give USF students a unique only-in-the-Bay-Area educational experience.”
Submitted by Joe DeBono, Executive Chef