Longtime Sebastopol Farmers Market manager and force of nature Paula Downing has died
October 15, 1941 to August 7, 2023
Paula was at her happiest running an apple press, fussing around in her yard, advocating for our environment, our farmers, clean air and water, trees, teenagers, knitting, and collecting articles about whatever you might need. Her greatest loves were her four daughters: Susan Zemanek, Sybil Ajay Sanford, Chloe Downing and Elizabeth Corsini. And her wild and wacky grandchildren, Alex and Liam Beard, Lucy and Emma Corsini.
She died in her own home, in her own bed, on her own terms, with her daughters, Sybil and Elizabeth and her sister Barbara Iannoli right by her side.
Anyone who met Paula knew she was a force of nature. She managed the Sebastopol and Santa Rosa Original Farmers Market for over 25 years and guided each into the robust markets they are today. She was the historian and a dedicated member of Slow Food Russian River, an international organization promoting biodiversity and the preservation of local foods. Save theGravenstein!
Paula Iannoli Downing was born and raised in Rhode Island, then landed into a vibrant communal life in the Haight Ashbury and then to her communal community in Oregon. In Oregon, she and Art Downing formed an organization called Headwaters, laboring to save critical headwaters in Southern Oregon and around the state, to fight the use of deadly DDT and to successfully save acres of old growth trees on Roundtop.
Finally, she arrived in Sebastopol. She was forever a champion for the environment, clean local food, as well as a lifelong peace activist. She sometimes drove us bananas, but she carried on following her heart and so what could a person do? Thank her and bless her. A life well lived.
She leaves behind her children and grandchildren, her sister Barbara, her niece Hallie Iannoli, Ondine and Dasia, and nephew Ivan Iannoli, Thea, Maceo and Frankie and Marghi, and her children Cristiana and Alessandra. Close family guys, Blake Sanford, Joe Corsini, Jonathan Beard and Art Downing. She also leaves an array of lovely and loyal friends who were party to all her daily shenanigans. We are deeply grateful for our time with her.
There will be a memorial to celebrate her life at a later date.
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