Many, many businesses perished in the Camp Fire—some of them large, corporate enterprises; others, mom-and-pop shops. I hate to say that one suffered more than the other, because any loss—of jobs, inventory, etc.—is painful. But I think it’s safe to say that for those whose livelihood relied upon their own handiwork, with tools amassed over a period of years—decades, even—the loss is profound.
Last week I had a chance to go up to Yankee Hill and Concow and the former reminded me of my visit back in the summer of 2017 to Turkey Tail Farm, where I met owners Samantha Zangrilli and Cheetah Tchudi. The couple were super cool, touring me around to meet the sheep, ducks, hogs, chickens and dogs on their 40-acre farm (see “Honoring the animal,” cover story, July 20, 2017).
I checked in with Zangrilli and learned that, sadly, they lost nearly everything—including their house, barn and pump house, not to mention all of their farming tools. They were, thankfully, able to save their animals, which are temporarily residing on a friend’s property in Chico.
“Farmers/ranchers pride themselves in buying in bulk, saving every nail or screw, harvesting your own raw materials and collecting what we lovingly call our own hardware store,” Zangrilli told me, “so we can fix, make or build whatever we need to keep the farm going—and all those reserves are gone.”
She says they are eager to get back to their property, where Tchudi’s parents’ house survived the fire, to begin to rebuild. “We want to still provide our community with the best choices of organically fed, pasture-raised, humanely harvested meat, duck eggs, oyster mushrooms, herbs and flowers, but we will be downsizing a bit,” she said.
To help Turkey Tail Farm, go to tinyurl.com/gofundmeturkeytail.
Not alone Turkey Tail wasn’t the only agricultural endeavor damaged by the fire. Paradise’s Noble Orchards, a family-run business launched in 1921 by “Grandpa Noble,” also took a blow. All 11 of its buildings were lost, according to its Facebook page. A few trees still stand, however, and provide hope for the future.
More heartache Out in Concow, which was hit hard in 2008 with the Humboldt Fire and ditto with the Camp Fire, residents had little to no warning to evacuate. Among them were the folks behind Mother Udder Farm. Jessie Olson and Craig Wilcox and their three kids escaped the blaze. And, thanks to the hard work of some neighbors who stuck it out, their animals were rescued. (Do yourself a favor and search “Mother Udder Farm” on YouTube. The frolicking baby goats, er, kids, are precious!)
The family is recuperating and the animals have been placed in temporary homes, but they do plan to rebuild their homestead. To help, go to tinyurl.com/gofundmemotherudder.
HELP FOR ALL The North Valley Community Foundation has launched a business recovery fund for Camp Fire victims. Go to tinyurl.com/nvcfbizrecovery to donate.