This year I’ve been fortunate to visit several private and commercial gardens and farms. One of my favorite farm tours was Abbondanza, Shenandoah Valley, which means abundance in Italian. The farm’s entitlement is also reflective of owner Daniel D’Agostini, retired ecology teacher, leader in school garden programs, renowned photographer, and author of Into the Earth: A Wine Cave Renaissance.
D’Agostini’s passion for horticultural first developed while growing up on Abbondanza among a bloodline of farmers and grape growers. During D’Agostini’s teaching career, he introduced organic gardening to his classroom curriculum. In 2000, he established a large school garden at Barry Elementary in Yuba City, where students experience hands-on organic concepts, and yes, eating veggies, a product of their labor.
After teaching more than twenty-five years, D’Agostini returned to his childhood home to care for his mother. Although she has passed, D’Agostini remains on the inherited property and home where he practices a blend of organic, permaculture, and Biodynamic techniques. According to D’Agostini, “My methods are guided by an inquisitive mind that sees interconnections between everything.” His farming systems include cow manure compost contained by straw bails (two high), compost teas made from yarrow, chamomile, dandelion, valerian, oak bark and nettles, cow pat (http://www.biodynamics.in/CPP.htm), and buried cow horns in producing preparation 500 and 501 (http://krishisewa.com/articles/2011/biodyn.html).
D’Agostini germinates seeds in a greenhouse he built from new and repurposed materials. Seasonal transplants then go into a half-dozen raised beds he constructed a few feet from his home’s back door. In a clearing beyond the raised beds, he grows over 70 tomato plants, lavender and corn crops. Mindful of his artistic spirit, a variety of vegetable seeds were direct-sown in a huge S-shape bed. Also on the five-acre property are English walnut trees from his childhood, a mission fig planted by D’Agostini’s mother in 1914, and other various trees and vines.
During the farm tour (sponsored by MotherLode Harvest), D’Agostini shared tips such as hand pulling weeds, rotation, and cover crops to control fungal and pest problems, and helpful books including Pests of the Garden and Small Farm: A grower’s Guide to Using Less Pesticide, available at Amador County Master Gardener Office.
D’Agostini’s produce is sold at the Plymouth Farmer’s Market, and periodically used at Taste, The Union, Amador Vintage Market, as well as the MotherLode Harvest (http://www.mlharvest.com/)
For more information on D’Agostini’s school garden work go to:
To view D’Agostini photography go to: http://www.dagostini.com/
Note to my readers: My refurbished computer arrived and it’s working wonderfully. I love Windows 7. However, it seems that Softcom isn’t maintaining their dial-up system and the connection fades in and out while I try to open my blog or other sites. I guess wireless equipment takes priority these days. This means I still can’t post from my house. Until other options are available in the rural area where I live and garden, I’ll have to post when I have the time to load up my laptop, articles, and photos and go to a Wi-Fi site. Thank you for hanging in with me. I hope you enjoy this article.