By Josh Reilly
Welcome travelers and neighbors on the move! Spring is upon us. There is a softness in the air, sap is flowing, and leaf buds are opening. The hillsides are still green, and the soil still a little damp. There is no shortage of destinations in the SLV to delight the eye, charm the senses, and satisfy curiosity. There are natural wonders down every road, miles of trails, towering redwoods, stately oaks, and — only a few miles away — thundering waves. There are also lots of people whose projects and endeavors help define the character of this area. And knowing this place means walking with them a few paces.
One of the most character-defining places in the SLV is Mountain Feed and Farm Supply in Ben Lomond.
Starting as a feed store for pets and smallholder farm animals in 2004, Mountain Feed & Farm Supply has evolved into a full-service, locally owned and operated sustainable living emporium. Whether it’s pets, vegetable gardens, homesteading, landscaping with perennials and trees, pots, organic and sustainable soil amendments, seed mixes, or pest solutions, Mountain Feed has it. If they don’t, they’ll get it. The philosophy of the owners and crew is, “It’s not our store. It’s yours.” As new trends develop in homesteading, gardening, and animal husbandry; they work with customers to develop inventories that meet needs. In the last year, with large numbers of people working from home, Mountain Feed has increased offerings in house plants, including online classes in house plant care and propagation. Buyers order all plant materials from local or regional nurseries and work to ensure that the plants they select will do well in the SLV area, where winter frosts, summer heat, deer and gophers place hard limits on what will grow.
But the thing that you notice first when you visit is the very distinct, welcoming SLV mountain vibe. The owners have carefully curated the layout and décor of the property and the presentation of the products. There is a sense of calm and order. Staffers have told me that they have customers who come by on their lunch break just to chill and hit the refresh button. It’s that kind of place, deep in the Zen as soon as you step onto the grounds. The atmosphere is so inviting that, for a while, a local banjo player showed up and started playing among the vegetable and herb seedlings.
In response to the fires of Summer 2020, Mountain Feed came through with “compost socks,” jute netting, and erosion control seed mixes for stabilizing slopes and soils, which they offered as a donation or at steep discounts with free delivery to help locals re-establish the lush landscapes tragically lost to the fires. The big emphasis in April and May is preparation and installation of summer gardens. Now is the time to start seeds or seedlings, work and amend soil, control winter weeds, and finish up on any late pruning. Mountain Feed can help with all of it. In particular, staffers advised me that there has been a big uptick in seed purchases vs. seedlings. People are starting over from the beginning. For those who want to take it further, online classes are available. Currently, they’re offering a class on backyard beekeeping. Next month, the focus will shift to food preservation.
Come by and wander around. Nice people, great selection, and sweet vibe.
Mountain Feed & Farm Supply, 9550 Hwy 9 Ben Lomond mountainfeed.com
Josh Reilly, aka Uncle Skip, writes about seasonal gardening from his home in beautiful Ben Lomond, California.
Photos by Julie Horner