Every great story has a beginning, and ours starts with Nan McEvoy and her search for a “wonderful place in the country”. On her quest for a place where her grandchildren could fully experience the beauty of Northern California, she fell in love with a sprawling 550 acres in Petaluma, previously a dairy farm and strictly zoned for agriculture.Inspired by her love of Tuscan olive oil and The Feast of the Olive by Maggie Klein (a book given to her by her son, Nion), she met with one of Italy’s foremost experts on the subject, Maurizio Castelli. Three days later he was on the ranch (or so the story goes…). Despite the obvious challenges involved in producing olive oil in Marin County, and against the advice of many, Nan imported 1000 seedlings from Tuscany. Her renegade decision-making has been a boon and a benefit to all those who have discovered McEvoy Ranch and its abundance.
Being regarded as a pioneer in her field is nothing new to Nan McEvoy. Her grandfather, Michael De Young, founded the San Francisco Chronicle in 1865. Nan started there as a cub reporter (a rare position for a female at the time), gradually working her way up and eventually serving as Chairwoman of the Board from 1981 to 1995. When a director's bylaw forced her into retirement at age 72, Nan set about doing what she does best—making things happen—and McEvoy Ranch was born. Always an activist with a spirit of adventure, she was an early member of the Peace Corps and John D. Rockefeller's Population Council. Nan was named Food Artisan of the Year by Bon Appetit in 2003.
Nion McEvoy is Chairman and CEO of Chronicle Books, LLC, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco. In addition, his role as CEO of 7x7 magazine (and drummer in the elusive rock band Rough Draft) requires Nion to channel a tireless spirit of his own. He worked previously in the business affairs departments of the William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills and of Wescom Productions, and is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz and Hastings College of the Law. He currently serves on the boards of SFJAZZ, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.
Farming Practices: We strive to create a self-sufficient and to develop a balanced agricultural ecosystem, embracing diverse plant and animal populations; we mindfully consider the sustainable use of resources while tending the soil, supporting the flora and fauna dependent on its health and tapping the solar energy that powers the growth cycle to maximize sequestration of atmospheric CO2 in our farm products and fertile soils. Our orchards and gardens are maintained in accordance with organic standards and are certified by CCOF. Fertile soil is the foundation of our approach to farming; to enrich our soils, eliminate waste and reduce water consumption, we produce our own organic compost from the by-products of olive oil production, farming and maintenance of the ranch landscape and gardens. The olive paste that remains after oil extraction is mixed with livestock manure and plant materials for effective composting. The liquid waste, or olive fruit water, is used to maintain compost moisture. Compost helps develop the organic matter content of our soils, enhancing the quality and productivity of our plantings while sequestering tons of atmospheric CO2 in every acre of fertile ground. Our chickens forage on fenced pastures for insects and plants and their manure is used in the ranch compost. Sheep seasonally graze the orchard cover crop, facilitating nutrient cycling and soil fertility development; their work reduces the need for gas-powered mowers and fertilizers.
In June of 2009, we celebrated the installation of our 225 kW Norwin windmill, the first privately-owned turbine of its size in Marin County. The windmill tower is 97 feet tall, with 40-foot long blades. Its hilltop location was chosen after careful consideration of how to both harness adequate wind and avoid impact on wildlife. The windmill reduces our greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 110 tons of CO2 each year and meets about half of our electrical energy needs.Certified Organic | Made in California: Our extra virgin olive oils are the result of a mindful and passionate dedication to excellence, from orchard to bottle and are certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Our olives are grown, harvested, milled, blended and bottled entirely on the ranch. At Tuscan agronomist and olive oil production consultant Maurizio Castelli's recommendation, in 1997 we imported the "Maserati of olive oil mills" (our state-of-the-art Rapanelli frantoio), now an integral part of the cold-process production unique to McEvoy Ranch.