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How This Local Farm Helped Plant the Seeds of Life Elements
Bill (pictured above) is one half of the Spencers. He and his wife, Barbara, are known locally and beyond as farming crusaders for their biodynamic approach to farming and living. Their platform is their 50-acre Windrose Farm, in Creston, California, very close to our Atascadero office.
Bill is the kinda guy that any man should aspire to. I'm in awe of his raw talent and learned skills that range from helping birth a lamb to tearing down and rebuilding a diesel engine to understanding the nuances of the 40+ varietals of apples they grow on their Farm. The Spencers built their farm and practice into a world-renowned food supplier to restaurants around the country, and a mecca for students of sustainable agricultural and healthy living.
Martha and I met them during our very first summer in Paso Robles, circa 2005. We tagged along with some friends to the Spencer's annual 4th of July party, which was unlike any July 4th celebration we had ever attended.
The setting was magical..it was so beautiful, held in an amazing shaded grove of oak trees along a flowing creek. This little slice of heaven was aptly named, "Shangri-La."
At the time, both Martha and I were both in the technology arena and traveling a lot. While everyone was incredibly welcoming and friendly, we felt like fish out of water because these people had a connection to the land and a long history living in the area (Paso Robles/Atascadero). And, most importantly, they all had brought something they had MADE to the party—not just cupcakes, either.
Winemakers brought the wine made from the grapes they harvested, cheesemakers brought cheese from the goats they raised, bakers brought hamburger buns that they kneaded, and ranchers brought grass-fed steaks and burgers. All that plus olives, incredible produce, and stunning flowers...from their own hands and local dirt! What did we bring? I don't remember, but it definitely wasn't anything like that.
Another cool thing about the Spencer's 4th of July celebration was that there weren't any fireworks; the setting was all about connecting with friends (old and new). All the guests told stories after lunch (including us) and it cemented our love for this place we call home. It also reignited our innate desire to create real products that you can hold and create products that do something. Martha and I both felt a strong need to contribute more to the world—beyond just being a cog in someone else's large organization. We were not, at that time, doing things that were nearly as inspirational or satisfying as what we are able to do now with Life Elements. We have endless gratitude.
A quick story on the resiliency these two beautiful humans have: Barbara used to drive the 4+ hours each way down to the Santa Monica Farmers Market (every weekend!). She would leave at 3 in the morning to get down there and set up, then head back in the afternoon. Twenty-some years ago on the way back from LA, she fell asleep at the wheel and the truck flipped on its side alongside the road. Barbara was completely unhurt, no other cars were involved, the towing company was able to get the truck back on its wheels and she drove back home. So, Bill incorporated the scrapes into a powerful message on a delivery truck they still use today.
Yes...we are blessed.