Our mission is to cultivate the wellness of Sonoma County communities by offering land-based education, creating access to organic produce, and regenerating habitat and natural resources.
Community Soil Foundation was co-founded by Paolo Tantarelli and Jeff Shields, owners of Community Soil, an edible and restorative garden design and install business. In 2012, Sonoma County launched the County Lands for Food Production Initiative to support the viability of local agriculture and increase access to local food. Alongside County Supervisor Mike McGuire, Community Soil Foundation promoted Maddux Ranch Regional Park in the unincorporated area of Larkfield (north Santa Rosa) as suitable public land for this initiative. After dozens of meetings with local officials, community partners and neighborhood residents, the concept that developed was to use a community garden at the Maddux Ranch site to connect local residents to healthy, organic produce, develop a land-based learning center to provide ecology and sustainable agriculture education to children, youth, and adults, and develop youth entrepreneurial skills by teaching them to grow food and operate local farm stands. In 2015, groundbreaking occurred at the Larkfield Community Garden & Learning Center, transforming a once underutilized parcel into a vibrant hub of collectively tending the land.
Mission & Goals
Community Soil Foundation is a non-profit organization that raises awareness about practices and methods of regenerative farming and gardening including the benefits to individual, communal, and ecological health. Our mission is to cultivate the wellness of Sonoma County communities by offering land-based education, creating access to organic produce, and regenerating habitat and natural resources.
Our projects are unique in that we optimize overall functionality of land by integrating as many community benefits as possible such as stacking a blend of school gardens and community gardens on underutilized public park space. Since 2015, we have been teaching environmental stewardship to youth and adults through sustainable, organic gardening practices and volunteer-driven fieldwork. We also provide an outdoor gathering space for community members to grow local produce and connect with each other. In addition, we create new programs in direct response to the evolving needs of our community. As a result of the 2017 wildfires, our Healthy Habitats program was launched to directly protect public health and Mark West Creek through landowner education, prevention of watershed contamination, and long-term habitat restoration.
The major goals that have been prioritized to carry out the mission include: 1) conducting year-round, outdoor, garden-based education to youth and adults, 2) teaching environmental stewardship through sustainable, organic gardening practices and habitat restoration and regeneration, 3) selling affordable, fresh organic produce at a farm stand in Santa Rosa and donating a portion of the yield to local food banks, 4) teaching garden-enhanced nutrition education courses to youth and adults, 5) providing a community gathering space for community members to reconnect and spend more time with their family, friends and neighbors.
We employ four part-time staff – Executive Director, School Garden Educator, Community Garden Coordinator, and Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator – plus provide seasonal internships for young professionals and engage with over 200 community volunteers each year to achieve our mission.
Our premiere site is located on five acres of garden and natural area at the Larkfield Community Garden & Learning Center at Maddux Ranch Regional Park. Over 3,000 annual pounds of produce is grown and donated to local families and food banks plus sold at a student-driven farm stand. During the school year, we serve 350 Mark West Unified School District students plus their teachers and families through our garden-based curriculum tied to common core standards. We partner with other local groups and agencies to further protect soil, water and public health plus create a larger base of environmental stewards. Major support comes from Sonoma Clean Power, Sutter Health, Sonoma County Regional Parks, Sonoma County Department of Health Services, Community Foundation, and dozens of private contributions and in-kind donations. Financial capacity continues to grow and diversify each year.