Koy Saichow grew up in a subsistence farming community in Thailand, where every season relatives, friends and neighbors would come together to harvest in her family’s fields. This powerful connection between food and community led her parents San and Muang to open Stony Point Strawberry Farm: a 10 acre organic farm located in beautiful Petaluma, California, specializing in, you guessed it, berries. Koy manages the business side of the farm while San and Muang focus their efforts on their passion: growing some of the best strawberries in Sonoma County.
We hope you will consider making a donation today to Kitchen Table Advisors, and join us in building a sweet future for farms, ranches and the families they sustain.
The sun-drenched fields of Petaluma, California are home to Stony Point Strawberry Farm, a 10 acre organic fruit and vegetable farm run by the Saichow Family, specializing in, you guessed it, strawberries.
San Saichow arrives at the farm early each morning to harvest strawberries and other crops alongside his wife Muang. They share deep roots in agriculture, and a generosity around food that is shaped by their experiences growing up in subsistence farming communities in Thailand. These roots led them to open Stony Point Strawberry Farm in 2011 with the help of their daughter, Koy.
Strawberries, while delicious, are a notoriously delicate crop, and so must each be hand-harvested by farmers throughout California. San and Muang lovingly pick each fruit hours before they deliver product, so they can take pride in their customers receiving berries at their peak.
Koy Saichow manages the business side of the farm so her parents can focus on their passion: growing food for their community. While San and Muang are out harvesting in the fields, Koy joins Kitchen Table Advisors Regional Director Paige Phinney for an advising session to weigh the benefits of desktop vs. online Quickbooks, and to talk "big picture" about her family's financial goals for the farm.
San and Muang load up their van with strawberries in preparation for the day's deliveries. Each week they deliver produce to local food hub FEED Sonoma (which then make their way to restaurants and stores like Oliver's Markets), Clif Family Winery and Acre Coffee. On the weekends, Koy stops by the farm to pick up the freshly harvested berries she sells at farmers' markets in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. The organic certification they received in 2018 opened up new market channels for their product as the demand for local organic products in Sonoma County continues to grow.
After a morning of harvesting, San heads to the Stony Point farm stand. While Stony Point's various market channels have significant impacts on the business and enable the Saichow family to feed a larger community, the farm stand holds a special place in their hearts: an opportunity to be in community with their customers on the farm, where folks can taste the strawberries just a couple hours after being picked (or pick one right off the plants for themselves!).
San stocks the farm stand at Stony Point with freshly-harvested strawberries. In Thailand, neighbors, family and friends regularly jumped in to help him and Muang cultivate their vegetable and rice fields. In turn, they shared the bounty with their community. The couple started the farm nearly a decade ago as a "retirement plan," a way for them to spend their golden years going back to their cherished origins: growing food and feeding people.
While strawberries were not part of his family's crop mix, or diet, in Thailand, San developed a passion for the fruit when he purchased a strawberry farm business from a friend in 2006. He had worked in landscaping after immigrating with his family in 1989, and after years in that industry craved a return to agriculture. Since taking over that first strawberry farm, San has dedicated himself to improving the quality and flavor of their berries, year after year, motivated by this mantra: "Pick one thing and do it the best. Feed people the best version of whatever that thing is."
Pollinators are also fans of Stony Point strawberries. The Saichow family works to nurture the whole ecosystem their farm is part of, to build an operation that not only nourishes the people who eat their berries, but also the land and animals that play a critical role in their quest to produce the best berries.
Koy prepares lunch on the farm for her parents and business advisor. For the Saichow family, food has always been synonymous with community and self-sufficiency. After immigrating to the Bay Area from Thailand, San and Muang were not able to farm as extensively as they had back home. Yet they always rented houses with backyards so they could continue to grow food -- mainly Thai chiles and Southeast Asian vegetables -- for their family, friends and neighbors.
Koy and Regional Director Paige Phinney wrap up an advising session with a meal. While Kitchen Table Advisors' one-on-one advising focuses on business and financial management, our goal is to support farmers and ranchers as whole people. That means following up a session about Quickbooks with noodle soup and a conversation about the unicorn-themed birthday party Koy is planning for her daughter.
All around us, we can see — and taste — the bounty of strawberry season. Thank you for following along and getting to know Koy, San and Muang, the family that makes this abundance possible.
Donate today to continue building a food community where family farms can thrive.
Photos by: Nicola Parisi