Meet the Farmer: Mark and Myriam Kaplan–Pasternak Nicasio of Devil’s Gulch Ranch
This West Marin ranch creates a veritable bounty of meat and produce in Nicasio.
Devil’s Gulch is a diversified family farm in Nicasio Valley, Marin County. The 65 acre West Marin ranch produces rabbits, pigs, sheep, game birds, wine grapes, and asparagus, using sustainable, humane agricultural practices, organic whenever possible.
MM: What is the origin and philosophy behind Devil's Gulch Farm?
MK: My life-long desire, beginning when I was two years old, was to live and make my living in the country. Philosophically, my wife and I are passionate about being environmentally sensitive and socially just, treating our animals humanely, and producing wonderful, high quality, nutritious foods. It is also important to us to provide educational opportunities for diverse communities, both locally and globally, so that people can learn about where their food comes from.
MM: The farm has evolved over the years, and you produce a variety of products. What do you sell at the Farmers Market and in what season?
MK: Pork, bacon, ham, sausage, rabbit, Bresse chickens, Silkie chickens, Poussin, quail, squab, lamb, and pelts from the rabbits and lambs. Most is available year round. I do have a season for lamb (Spring/Summer) but I freeze some in order to offer it year round.
MM: What are the qualities of your location in West Marin that are conducive to farming?
MK: Temperate climate, abundant water and pasture, proximity to sources of bi-products for animal feed, and proximity to a large, well-educated consumer base.
MM: What are your top sellers or go-to favorites for local chefs?
MK: Top sellers depend upon the whims of the consumers and chefs. Rabbits are almost always very popular, and the Bresse chickens and Poussin have become very popular as well. Bacon will never go out of style. Some folks call it the "gateway meat" and I know some vegetarians who are closet bacon eaters.
MM: Do you have any favorite methods for preparing rabbit?
MK: Braised with yellow onions.
MM: How are your meats best stored and for how long?
MK: They are best stored under refrigeration. Freezing is fine, and most meat will keep fine frozen for many months, though fresh is almost always preferable. Rabbits, chicken, quail, and squab can keep fresh at least one week under proper refrigeration. Pork and lamb can be kept at least two weeks under proper refrigeration.