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Roundup: A Solar Panel Lands At Ragle Park
Also, some memories of blackberry picking
A large, new solar panel was recently placed at Ragle Regional Park in a parking lot near the entrance. You can’t miss it. The high-tech panel, manufactured by BEAM, is a standalone EV charging station. The structure looks like an art installation in the vein of the Pixar desk lamp, or a giant iPad on a stand. It’s just taking in rays to charge the growing number of electric cars. According to a ranger, the solar-powered charging stations are being placed in several county parks.
Ragle Soccer Field Ready for Sod
Also at Ragle Park, work continues on the #1 soccer field. Grading the field is finished and now the next step is laying down the sod. A ranger told me that a field of green is expected soon.
A Road Map for Downtown?
A Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant of $260,000 from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) was awarded to the City of Sebastopol to look at Main Street. The grant will go towards development of a “plan for the downtown segments of State Route (SR) 116 and SR 12 (that) will address multimodal transportation, safety, sustainability, accessibility, and economic development, while supporting the City’s land use and housing goals.”
The Sebastopol Times covered a session with a group of downtown merchants in April of 2022 where there was discussion of applying for the CalTrans planning grant to update the downtown plan after 32 years. A controversial topic is restoring two-way traffic to downtown streets but less controversial topics include widening the sidewalks and adding more greenery.
Paul Fritz, a local arhitect and a member of the Core project, is behind these efforts. The Sebastopol Times talked to Paul in September last year about the parklets.
Hector & Leonela’s USA Roadtrip
Owners of The Strength Studio in Sebastopol and Sonoma, Hector and Leonela Sanchez, and their three kids ages 12, 7, and 4—took a road trip in a camper van driving from CA to NY and back during the first three weeks of August.
In a note to their clients, they wrote:
“We did the trip with no devices— i.e. no tablets, no tv or movies, and no video games! The kids had to play road trip bingo, listen to a narrated novel, listen to music, and just plain ‘ole look out the window during drives that stretched from 7-16 hours in length. They only fought on the days of the week that end in the suffix “-day.” …
We drove through 24 states! Each state felt familiarly American while at the same time offering its own unique flavor.
Some stereotypes of the people of each state didn’t hold up — New Yorkers were actually quite kind and, on the flip side, we didn’t experience any southern charm in South Carolina!
One of the highlights was an amazing dinner in Amish country at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord — a Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant serving an all-you-can-eat buffet. “Amish country stood out in our journey because of how green, beautiful, peaceful and clean it was throughout the entire county (we drove through most of it),” they said.
Their 4-year-old’s favorite part of the trip was a visit to the Statue of Liberty.
The Flavor Bistro on Healdsburg Ave in Sebastopol is closed and it appears to be permanent. A sign on the door has said “Closed Today” for months yet the tables are set for service inside. Calls to the restaurant are not answered. “Is Flavor closed?” was a frequently asked question on Nextdoor this summer. Joelle Branham posted on Nextdoor on August 29th that she confirmed with the City that the restaurant had closed.
Flavor, which opened in July 2020, had good food, including an especially delicious chicken pot pie.
The West County Museum’s Donna Pittman and I had an nice email exchange after I published last week’s story “Blackberry Mania” about the connection between wild blackberries and the blackberry farms of the early 20th Century, which was followed on Labor Day by the story of the Barlow Boys who picked the berries.
Donna remembers picking blackberries herself in the 1960’s. “I earned 25 cents a basket of berries and the foreman would scold us if the baskets included any squished berries from pulling them from plant the wrong way! I earned $ for my school clothes for my Freshmen year and still recall exactly my wardrobe, I think, because it was hard earned. I wonder now how much a basket weighed, I will have to figure that out at the fruit stand!”
She added: “Makes me think of those little boys, under hot sun, little hands stained and poked by stickers and you get really dirty doing it!”
I also wondered how many blackberries would make up a ton? I wrote to Donna: “How much did a tray of berries weigh, which the boys were shown holding in the photo? How many trays made up a ton? If we guessed a tray of blackberries weighed five pounds, it might be something like 400 trays a ton. That’s a lot of picking. If they were paid 4.5 cents a tray, then that adds up to $18 a ton for pickers alone. The growers were trying to get $25 to $35 a ton from the cannery in the early days. I can see why they didn’t want to accept $20 a ton.” (Please check my math!)
Donna replied: “The trays the boys used are bit smaller than ones I filled. We filled a kind of a boxy-like basket then put those side by side in a tray. Each basket was piled high then sat in tray and we’d use our hands to spread blackberries around to pick out bits of the green of flowers or stems from berries. Then we would carry our trays to the big wagon/tractor where they were inspected. If not full enough, we’d have to go back and fill from our row of bushes. Also, the foreman guy walked the aisles/rows to inspect what was left behind that should have been picked. Or if we picked too soon, we’d be in trouble. That’s how it felt.”
Donna was age 14 at the time and required a work permit. She thinks “that was a bit young.” Donna closed her email: “Gee, bringing back a lot of memories, very sensory, that smell of hot dirt everywhere from working berries to walking home, cutting through apple orchards.”
Week of September 2-8
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