Agriculture in Sonoma Valley: How California’s rich resources environment lent itself to development

Agriculture in Sonoma Valley: How California’s rich resources environment lent itself to development

by Patricia Cullinan

[No order in lists]

[ xxx ] —  a few bracketed items added by Tom Moritz

[The climatic, geologic and natural environment… including soil and water, land-cover and biological diversity]

[Patterns of human exploration and habitation]

American Indian practices

  • Rich natural resources



Burning practices — [ land management]

Fishing including shellfish



Spanish Settlers-

  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Agriculture
  • Cattle for hides


  • Ranchos for cattle, sheep(when did they come to CA), horses, grain
  • General Vallejo

Scientific farming


Cattle and horses for export?

Forestry-Redwood and Douglas Fir-lumber mill,  Oak-charcoal for heating  and cooking

  • Later Support for other developing areas i.e. San Francisco
  • Beginning of influx of immigrant groups to take advantage of rich resources
  • Mission siting depends on access to land and water
  • Choice of Sonoma for Mexico’s northern frontier outpost reflect richness of area.  Fort Ross is a  distance away.


American occupancy- beginning with the Bear Flag Republic-

  • Land Grants-division of Ranchos
  • Proliferation of smaller farms
  • Stone Quarries-streets of San Francisco, buildings
  • Forestry

Lumber for nearby developing area- houses, barns, nearby towns, fence posts

Charcoal for heating and cooking

  • Immigrant groups


  • Stone Masons
  • Foresters-ex: Samuel Sebastiani worked both quarries and woodcutting
  • Vineyards
  • Wine
  • Farms- Barley and Oats and wheat

German duchies-during this time the German monarchy was paying their citizens to leave

  • Merchants
  • Farmers
  • Vineyards


  • Dairies


  • Dairies


Migrant workers

Other nationalities

Celebrated individuals:

Jack London

Ansel Adams?

  • Agritourism of the 1800’s and 1900’s -Vacationers coming to enjoy the agricultural riches and healthy lifestyle of the area
  • How were these groups franchised
  • Access to waterways to move produce and stone from quarries
  • Good weather for agriculture

So what are the Agricultural Themes?

  • Forestry
  • Cattle Farming
  • Dairy Farming
  • Vineyards
  • Chickens and Turkeys
  • Fruit Trees-Pears, Cherries, Apples, Prunes
  • Agritourism
  • Land Use Planning
  • [Horticulture/ Gardening]

ü urban growth boundary preserves agriculture

ü Sonoma Land Trust and Ag Open Space preserves agricultural land and open space

ü Changes to ecology of Sonoma Valley and delta

  • Resurgence of small farms mostly organic-dairy for cheese making, agricultural products for restaurants and farmers markets



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