The Willow Farm is located an hour south of San Francisco, in the rural community of Pescadero, California. The owners, Neil and Alix Curry, emigrated from Australia twenty years ago and their farm is the culmination of a business vision driven by the desire to be profitable without compromising ecologically sound farming practices. Their answer to the question “conservation vs. productivity” is to have both work in tandem. They have proven their belief that conserving the environment does not preclude productivity, rather the concepts enhance each other. Using time-honored farming practices combined with a strong background in the sciences, Neil and Alix have turned their forty acre farm into an agricultural jewel with several businesses that work in relationship with each other as well as the environment. One of their more creative ventures, The Willow Farm, embraces the motto “we grow it, we make it” and produces products for high end landscape architectural projects using a totally renewable resource: willow.
Early in their marriage, this husband and wife team practiced their knowledge in biodynamic and permiculutre on their blueberry farm in Australia, concentrating on enhancing blueberry production through the use of willows as windbreaks. They moved to America and soon after purchasing their farm in Pescadero in the 1994 they designed farm activities around living in harmony with their surroundings. Their resolve was soon tested as an El Nino year caused a massive flood which destroyed nearly all livable aspects of their property, covering the entire farm in silt and assorted debris. Undeterred, the Curry’s realized that within disaster lay massive possibility as they now had a “blank slate” upon which to channel their creativity. Over the next ten years, they maintained their tree nursery while redeveloping the farm to provide an ecological habitat that embraces the natural landscape and encourages native wildlife to blossom in companion with their businesses.
“The quality of life and the resulting products made at The Willow Farm, are such that I feel compelled to bring my UC Berkeley students on field trips. They learn more about what the spirit and quality of real work can be in one day at the farm, than in a whole semester.” – Jane Rosen, Sculptor, Professor UC Berkeley
Balancing old with new, the circle of life that is supported on the Curry’s farm is the result of their action plan. They raise their own livestock including sheep, ducks, geese, chickens, and vegetables. Their passion for animals, horticulture and community is evidenced in their continued and daily effort to keep their impact on local land and resources minimal by modeling businesses which grow in recognition within the worldwide design and architectural community each year.
The Willow Farm has found its niche in harvesting the materials used in the product line by short rotation coppicing which allows for constant regrowth. The farm animals play an integral part in the production of food for the human component as well as fertilizer for the ground. They are set loose amongst the willows in winter to eat the weeds and in spring to strip the leaves from the stems, a job that would otherwise be done by employees who are far more valuable in the design and production use of the stripped canes. This constant courtship of nature in relationship with modern business approach is necessary in securing and protecting this ongoing lifestyle. A focus that the Curry’s continue to endeavor to bring to a larger audience. They are proving that renewable resources combined with carefully honed practical business applications can be utilized on a creative level. They hope to continually inspire their clientele to a partnership with nature and use The Willow Farm products to create a natural relationship with places and spaces.