Sarah Silva of Green Star Farm
Sarah Silva is the rancher/operator of Green Star Farm, an 85-acre pasture-based livestock farm in Sebastopol, California. Prior to beginning her career in farming and ranching in 2007, Sarah was the program manager for a NASA Education and Public Outreach group through Sonoma State University. She currently is an executive board member and the treasurer for BAR-C.
Describe a typical day on your farm.
My typical day changes from season to season. Most days involve doing my best to spend at least 30 minutes checking emails each morning, then grabbing my headphones and going out in our Toolcat to visit, feed, and check on all of the pigs, dogs, and chicken coops. Sometimes, I have newborn piglets, lambs, and goats in my house so the day doesn’t end; they need care all night and day.
Since all of our flocks and herds move, most days we are either setting up nets to move the herd or a new pig enclosure. March through October is when I raise broilers (meat birds), so I usually start the day by moving our mobile range coops with a big tractor, so the birds have fresh grass all day. The only typical thing about farming is it’s a diverse occupation and there’s never a dull moment.
Name three unexpected sensory delights of farming.
The feel of a warm egg on a cold morning. The softness and sweet smell of a baby lamb. The excellent surprise massages of a goat head in the lower back. We have a few goats who are experts at lower back massages.
What sustainable or environmental practices are you most proud of?
We have taken a very degraded old horse ranch and rebuilt the quality of the top soil, which increases the biodiversity of the land. As a result, we provide a healthier environment for all living creatures, and we capture more water, resulting in less run-off. As producers of pasture-fed eggs, chicken, pork, and lamb, we practice holistic management and intensive rotational grazing methods to ensure the forage component of our animals’ diet is frequently changed. Our goal is to create a regenerative system at our farm, which employs the animals to aid in the healthy improvement of our soil ecosystem.
If you could change one thing about the food industry, what would it be, and why?
I would decentralize it. The industrial food system today produces really cheap, low-quality foods that aren’t good for anyone and contributes to disease outbreaks like salmonella, swine flu, and now COVID-19. The centralized food system as it stands makes us more vulnerable to sickness and threatens our environmental health.
What is your greatest challenge as a farmer?
Farming is challenging—to pick just one thing is difficult—and so much more work than people realize. It’s always surprising. Just one animal getting out of an enclosure can throw your whole day off. There goes a couple of hours trying to corral a goat who just wants to eat. Sometimes, there’s a hole in the fence to patch or a sick animal that needs tending. Or your slaughterhouse gets shut down. Or there’s a fire.
When you’re not farming, what are you doing?
Helping our community get the BAR-C’s Mobile Harvesting Trailer up and operational. Otherwise, I’m usually listening to a book or a podcast. In my spare time, I enjoy aqua-scaping my freshwater aquariums, something relaxing I can do indoors that still involves plants and creating habitats.
Where can people find your products?
Our products can be purchased directly from our website via subscription. Our eggs and chickens are also available weekly through FEED Sonoma, and Tara Firma Farms offers our chicken through their CSA. Our eggs are at Andy’s Produce in Sebastopol, Oxbow Market in Napa, and Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco.
5800 Blank Rd, Sebastopol