By Sydney Dean
Paul & Candi, Sonoma
In the heart of Sonoma sits 14-acres of land that has been farmed by Paul Witz for over 20 years. This farm, also known as Paul’s Produce, is the result of year-round attentive farming with organic principles, extremely diversified cropping, and careful use of manual labor paired with inventive use of machinery.
Paul has been a farmer for much of his life. His roots are in farming, as he grew up farming on his family’s cranberry farm in Wisconsin. As Paul began his adult life, he thought he had moved on from farming to explore other things, but was inspired by Bob Cannard Jr. to get back into farming. And, with his land in Sonoma, he has been doing just that for the past 20 years.
Each season Paul farms a variety of produce. He describes his farm as being more diversified than it should be, but believes that this diversification makes for interesting work on his end, which he enjoys. With a lifetime of farming experience, Paul has learned his favorite and least favorite crops to farm over the years.
“Parsnips are hands down the most difficult crop for me to grow well, followed by eggplant. On the other hand, head lettuce and chicories are my favorite crops to grow because of their stunning colors, quick turn around, and general market need.”
When asked what the most rewarding aspect of being a local farmer is, Paul says that he particularly loves the tools of farming, and the beauty that is inherent within its organization.
“I appreciate that being a farmer in Sonoma is respected, and more importantly, supported with enthusiasm and purchase. The recent fires drove home the interdependence that much of our community experiences. This interdependence that we all share makes us stronger as a community.”
Today, Paul operates Paul’s Produce with the help of Candi Edmondson. While Paul works directly with the earth, Candi manages the backend of the farm, handling phone calls, selling at local farmers markets, and working with chefs to get Paul’s Produce into local restaurants.
Outside of living life on the farm, Candi enjoys painting and together Candi and Paul love to create recipes using seasonal produce from their farm. Candi describes celery root fritters as her favorite recipe to make: “I love making celery root fritters. I grate the celery root, mix it with a thick batter of egg and gluten-free flour mix, and I fry it in a hot pan. It’s easy and delicious.”
You can find Paul and Candi selling their seasonal produce this time of year in Depot Park, right up the street from the girl & the fig, on Friday’s from 9am to 12:30pm each week.