About Us

Meet Your Farmers 

Jes Michalak

Jes got her start farming 10 years ago as a WWOOFer in Hawaii where she fell in love with growing food! She was a pretty big nerd about growing ALL of her food and found her way to the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method and Ecology Action back in 2013. She worked her way up from apprentice to manager and then went on to start her own farm with her husband in 2018. Jes’ favorite vegetable to eat is Kale, but she finds some of her greatest joy growing Potatoes, Winter Squash, and Flowers.  This year she will be expanding her flower production and pushing the boundaries of flower art for the whole season.  She and her husband Keith have a 2 year old human who is currently enrolled in the toddler farming apprenticeship and a brand new baby who is experiencing her first year of farming life!

Keith Michalak

Keith has been working with plants for over 9 years. He fell in love with the soil since the first time he broadforked. He got his start farming in Israel where he received his permaculture design certificate. He then went on to work at Live Power Community Farm where he got his introduction to working on a Biodynamic CSA farm. He has been comanaging Buttercup Biodynamic CSA with Jes for the past 4 years. Keith likes to have fun. He brings good energy to the field and promotes good flowing systems that encourage hard work. He and his wife Jes started Buttercup CSA in 2019. 

Rachel Laase

Rachel is in her 7th season of farming and is a lover of soil, seeds, and all that blooms. She grew up spending weekends in the garden with her Father but got her start as a full-time farmer when she moved up to Mendocino County to work for Ecology Action.   After several seasons at Ecology Action, she spent two seasons working for Open Circle Seeds, growing for commercial contracts as well as for their own small retail seed company.  She enjoys growing vegetables, but flowers and growing for crops for seed are her true passion. She is excited to be a part of continuing the legacy of seed saving here at Ridgewood Ranch, growing flowers and veggies for the CSA, and breeding new varieties, specifically dahlias. She is so grateful for all the support of the Golden Rule Community and to get to be a part of the farm team here.

Aaron Bellomo

Aaron joined the Golden Rule Gardens team in 2022. Aaron loves growing dahlias, flowers, vegetables, seed saving, small-scale experimental plant breeding, vermiculture, and making natural fermented amendments and preps.

Donald Pivec

Donald Pivec brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Golden Rule Gardens crew.  Donald started gardening in 2013 and after 2 years decided to attend Santa Rosa Junior College to pursue an AS in Sustainable Agriculture. Throughout his educational endeavors he worked at the SRJC Farm, Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, and FEED Sonoma, a regional food aggregator.  After receiving his degree, he started a farm, Meandering Farmers, in Tomales. There he raised roughly 950 laying hens, cultivated 2 acres of dry-farmed potatoes, winter squash, and artichokes and ½ acre of irrigated intensive diverse vegetables.  When his family began to grow, he moved to Ridgewood Ranch and worked with the New Agrarian Collective for 2 years. For the past year and a half he has been working at the Mendocino Grain Project primarily cleaning grain at the warehouse.

His passions outside of the agricultural space include BMX bicycle riding, cooking farm fresh meals, and sporty activities like basketball and volleyball. After working in specialty coffee for 15 years, he can also make a mean cup of coffee or throw down some delightful latte art.  However, the lionshare of his attention these days remains in his home (and the field) raising his son, Leland, with his lovely partner Paigelynn Trotter.

Sammy Kangethe

Sammy comes to Ridgewood Ranch via central Kenya. He hails from a family of farmers, and grew up with his father growing coffee and food for his family. After commercial flower farming for export using too many chemicals came to dominate his home region, Sammy moved to Kajiado County near Nairobi. For the past 10 years Sammy has operated an organic farm outside of Nairobi, where he grows food for local organic farmers markets and raises goats and sheep. From his farm, he also teaches Kenyan farmers about organic agriculture and sustainability.

Golden Rule Gardens is grateful to have Sammy in the garden for the 2024 growing season!

Not included are many more personnel and volunteers who make Golden Rule Gardens possible.

Our Context

We're a group of farmers who love growing fruits and veggies and also love sharing the abundance that we experience throughout the year with others. We steward a few acres where we live at the historic Ridgewood Ranch, right off highway 101, between Ukiah and Willits. We're grateful for the folks who have called this valley home before us. For many centuries they attempted to live in harmony and connection with the natural world. We hope they would be pleased by our efforts to do the same today.

We grow a lot of food for the folks who live here at the Ridgewood Ranch. We also donate a significant amount of food to local groups that effectively distribute it to those who need it the most. Our formal offering to the public is our CSA. (More info about that on the CSA page!)