Cherish Market Garden & Orchard
Lynne Rodgers had just completed her education as a nurse practitioner when COVID disrupted her intended life path. As she witnessed the unprecedented shutdowns and closures within Napa Valley, she had an epiphany. “I realized that the Valley’s ability to feed the entire community if necessary is not viable,” said Rodgers, an associate of family-owned Rodgers Vineyards. “So I set about creating a sustainability project within our Oak Knoll property.”
Over the past year, Rodgers has successfully created from the ground up a 3.5-acre, biodiverse environment where she grows a number of crops, raises fish, sheep, chickens, and ducks, and keeps honey bees – two varieties to be exact: Carniolan and Italians. Named Cherish Market Garden & Orchard, the project is presently a private effort, but Rodgers plans to one day soon share the bucolic farm and its bounty with the public via educational tours and a CSA subscription box offering. (She currently supplies Napa Valley Bistro with her produce, and she also donates to the AGAPE Food Pantry.)
“I wanted to create exactly what is needed to keep us and the ranch going on our own,” said Rodgers. Currently, the farm produces or is creating the infrastructure to produce fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey, poultry, meat, eggs, milk, butter, and cheese.
Rodgers also wanted her project to be aesthetically pleasing. An abundance of botanicals accomplishes this goal, each a role-player in the sustainable and biodiverse environment in which Rodgers follows a highly artistic permaculture philosophy. “The fish in our pond create fish emulsion that I use to fertilize the botanicals; the botanicals are fed to the chickens, the eggshells of which go back into the soil.” It’s an organic cycle, one that includes the use of sheep as natural lawnmowers.
Currently amidst completing the farm’s infrastructure in anticipation of its future public opening, Rodgers credits the success of her efforts to the support of husband John and Rodgers Vineyards vineyard manager Anna Hickey. “Anna has been the most supportive advocate, agent, consultant, coach, and incredible mentor throughout this journey,” said Rodgers, who referenced a recent 3 am text from Hickey urging her to protect her citrus from imminent frost. Yet Rodgers also credits her nurse practitioner training and previous farm work to her speedy learning curve. “Nurse practitioners have an incredible background in science and a variety of skills that are transferable; I will serve, for instance, as midwife to my sheep when necessary,” said Rodgers.
In the interest of feeding both the body and the soul, Rodgers also created what she calls ‘The Window Project’ – a garden loaner library of inspirational books, the objective of which is to spread goodwill and brotherly love.
“The concept came from the love of my husband John, who urged me to build my garden and who provided the means to do so,” said Rodgers. “I named the garden ‘Cherish’ in his honor.”
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Story By: Fran Miller // Photo courtesy of Cherish Market Garden & Orchard