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17 March 2010

by Frances Rivetti  |  Southern Sonoma Country Life

Vice President of the Petaluma Gap Winegrower's Alliance, Mark Pasternak finds himself in the news an awful lot these days, despite the remoteness of his rambling West Marin Devil's Gulch Ranch.

To quote Kim Severson of the New York Times March 2nd 2010 interesting "Don't Tell the Kids" article on a slow-food spectacular rabbit killing seminar that took place behind Roberta's restaurant in Brooklyn last fall: "Chefs searching for local, fresh rabbit can’t always find enough. In the Bay Area, cooks wait for a call from Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch Ranch in Marin County. Along with his wife, a rabbit veterinarian named Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak, he raises the most coveted rabbits in Northern California.


"They are such believers in the economic and health benefits of eating rabbit," writes Severson "that they travel regularly to Haiti to teach families to raise rabbits on foraged food."


Regular Sonoma Country Life readers will recall that the Pasternaks and their two daughters had just arrived with their rabbit-farming non-profit foundation in Haiti at the time of the recent earthquake. This morning's visit to Devil's Gulch Ranch was picture-perfect for Saint Patrick's Day, passing pristine dairy pastures from Petaluma into West Marin, weaving around a gloriously full-to-capacity, mirror-still Nicasio reservoir and along an emerald-green, tree-flanked one-track lane down to Pasternak's enchanted place.


According to Severson's article, Pasternak started raising rabbits on his rustic 75 acre ranch about 12 years ago by special request of his French mother-in-law. She'd apparently brought a French chef to dinner with her winegrower son-in-law and daughter when word spread like proverbial wild fire to Bay Area cooks. "Soon," writes Severson, "Mr.Pasternak was selling rabbit to Chez Panisse and the French Laundry."


Devil's Gulch Ranch is a diversified family farm nestled off the beaten track in the outer depths of the hamlet of Nicasio within California’s North Coast premium wine grape region. The Pasternaks grow asparagus as well as raising rabbits, pigs, sheep, and quail for retail customers and direct sales to high-quality restaurants. Sustainable, humane agricultural practices and organic farming are utilized whenever possible and the passionate Mr. P is not at all keen on requests to ship rabbits out of state, or anywhere for that matter, adhering to the carbon footprint and care of his animals.


Reason for the visit was to accompany a friend who'd found out about Devil's Gulch Ranch from my post on the Pasternak's Haitian Project .  Wanting to meet Mark and see the ranch for herself, the Devil's Gulch Farm and Nature Summer Camp Program was of big interest and prompted me to stop procrastinating on a long-thought-of field trip out Pasternak's way. 


Rambling around the rural most outposts of the glorious North Bay is a great way to spin the wheels. Frequent visitors to this site know that I've a penchant for putting together feature posts on top-spots for sustainable lifestyles.




Going Green on a Saint Patrick's Day Tour of Devil's Gulch Ranch

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Devil's Gulch Ranch

A diversified family farm located in Nicasio, Marin County, within California’s North Coast region, produces rabbits, pigs, sheep, premium wine grapes and asparagus for retail customers and direct sales to high-quality restaurants. Sustainable, humane agricultural practices are utilized, organic whenever possible.

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