Art & Ag starts off a new year of farm visits at Rominger Brothers Farms in Winters. This sprawling property in the foothills of the Coast Range has been in the Rominger family for five generations.
Once past the majestic metal gate one feels a sense of yesteryear on this scenic farm with vintage red barns from the 1930s against the backdrop of the rolling rangelands and almond orchards. For Rick Rominger, who currently operates Rominger Brothers Farms with his brother Bruce, this was his backyard. “I used to wander all over these hills,” he says, as he recalls playing tag through the big fig trees – and along the Chickahominy Slough which passes through the property.
Now years later, Rick still likes to take daily walks with his new rescue dog Buckeye. “I think of my father Richard and brother Charlie, when I walk out here.” Charlie, who passed away in 2006, was instrumental in developing Rominger West Vineyards which has since been discontinued except for a few acres of rootstock which the farm still cultivates to sell to wineries.
Adjacent to the rootstock fields are 40 acres of almond orchards that were planted in 2009 and feature three varieties: Non-Pareil, Wood Colony, and Winters. Artists set up their easels and tripods among the blossoming trees or drove up into the hills for a view of the orchards from above. Many continued into the rangelands which their father placed under a California Rangeland Trust and Wildlife Conservation Easement, to ensure sustainable farming practices.
“My father Richard was a remarkable guy with all the things he accomplished in his life. He was always thinking of the wider world. Very cognizant of the fact that we’re all in this together.” As stewards of the land, Rick and Bruce are committed to continuing his legacy by growing crops in ways that protect the environment, such as minimizing the use of crop protection materials and using drip irrigation to conserve water. In the last 20 years, they installed more than 7 miles of field-border hedgerows and riparian corridor enhancements with native plants including foothill pine, deer grass, bay tree, red bud. “We wanted to get a lot of diversity in the corridor” says Rick.
See more about this visit in Stories From the Valley by photographer and Art & Ag supporter, Steven Beckley
Top: Farmers, Bruce Rominger and Rick Rominger with Artist, Zhiwei Tu: Portrait by Charles Vincent McDonald
Old Barn, Rominger Ranch, Infrared photography, Sarah Mayhew
Artist in the Almond Orchard, Robert Jensen