Posted on May 10, 2013 By Mina

Press Democrat letter to the editor from Paula Shatkin-Slow Food Russian River

Press Democrat

It is with sadness and frustration and a bit of optimism too that I read the story about the planned destruction of apple orchards and replacement by yet another vineyard in Sebastopol.  The Apple Core committee of Slow Food Russian River has been working for 11 years to promote Sebastopol apples and apple farmers and to save the Gravenstein apple from commercial extinction.  We work to bring awareness to our community of the real risk of slowly but surely losing our apple heritage, and with it some of our food security.  Wine grapes are not food!

There are many more issues at stake here, and pesticides and water use and fences blocking wildlife corridors and the use of Roundup, a known carcinogen, are just some of them.  Apples are part of Sebastopol’s cultural heritage, part of how our sense of community has evolved, and they are family friendly too.  Wine is none of these things.  Vineyards are often owned by corporations or by “vanity” owners who pay little or no attention to responsible water use and farming techniques.  Children cannot pick or eat wine grapes.  Families cannot preserve wine grapes or make cakes and pies out of them.  Vineyards are not beautiful, and they do not remind us of Spring.  They may make more money per acre for their owners, but they destroy so much in the process and put our agricultural biodiversity at serious risk.

We support the parents and are heartened by the fact that a new group of us has become aware of this awful conversion issue and are willing to take a stand.  We hope that the powers that be in our town wake up too, and realize that the tax revenues and personal wealth created by corporate alcohol cannot begin to make up for the losses we are suffering to the quality of our lives.  We welcome new volunteers to our efforts.
Paula Shatkin
Co-Leader, Slow Food Russian River
Coordinator, Save the Gravensteins
Paula Shatkin
P.O. Box 453
Occidental, CA