A growing industry
seeks to save our most
precious resource in
creative new ways.
epending on whom you
ask, the drought that has
plagued California since
2012 is the worst since the
gold rush, the worst in
500 years or possibly the
worst ever. Whatever the case, by
last February, things were looking grim. Unable to water thirsty
fields, some farmers in hard-hit
regions such as the Central Valley were forced to close up shop.
The drinking water supply
became threatened. Dustbowl returned to the modern vernacular.
In the hills of Marin County,
north of San Francisco, Point
Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company
considered cutt ing nonessentials
such as its culinary center.
were ready to truck in water and
basically cut out all the litt le things
that says Jill
Giacomini Basch, who co-owns
the dairy farm and artisan cheese
company with her three sisters.
But then it rained, and rained some
more, and the water stores
returned to normal levels.
Even if those storms
rolled through, Point Reyes could
have toughed it because Marin is hardly the driest
area of the state, but also because
the farm was prepared. Its founder,
Robert Giacomini, built environmental responsibility into his
DNA, a tradition carried
on by his four daughters. The farm
hired an engineering fi rm to design
and install a system that converts
methane (created by manure) into
energy to power 65 percent of the
farm. As a bonus, the engine that
drives the gas-to-power conversion
PHOTOGRAPH BYSCOTT PETERSON