How Triple T Ranch's Tristano got his start

Triple T Ranch and Farm has been a familiar presence at Santa Rosa and Marin farmers markets since the mid 1990s. But that is not how it got its start.

Larry Tristano began selling zucchini to local Lucky Markets in 1983, when the fecund summer squash was his primary crop. By the mid 1990s, he had expanded what he grew and in 1995 became a vendor at the Marin Civic Center Farmers Market in San Rafael. In 1996, he was admitted to the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market at the Veterans Building in Santa Rosa.

Triple T's current harvest includes arugula, loose-leaf spinach, salad mix, lettuces, kale, collard greens, chards, radishes, broccoli, broccoli raab, onions, the last of the year's chiles and fresh herbs, including Italian parsley. He has a fresh crop of walnuts from the farm's single walnut tree, too.

The farm also has plenty of chicken eggs year round. They sometimes have duck and quail eggs, too, and their production of duck eggs will increase in about three months, when the 200 "Golden 300" ducks they just purchased begin to lay.

The birds can leave their pens to roam the farm at will and they are fed organic grains along with vegetables left over from the farmers market and whatever worms, grubs and bugs they scavenge.

Triple T also sells about 200 Cornish Cross chickens every three weeks. Because they must be sold by a family member, they are available at Marin and Santa Rosa farmers markets but not in Sebastopol, where an employee of the farm tends the booth. Customers are also welcome to order chickens and pick them up directly at the farm.

The farm consists of 13 acres on Melita Road in Santa Rosa and another 2 acres at St. Francis Winery on Highway 12 near Kenwood. The winery uses some of the produce for its wine pairings and the farm sells the rest. It takes six employees to tend the properties and manage stalls at five farmers markets each week.

For many years, lettuces and a few other Triple T crops were grown hydroponically, but Tristano closed down the biggest of two greenhouses because of the cost of power.

The smaller greenhouse, where herbs are grown, is still operating. Tristano currently is exploring funding sources that he hopes will allow him to have solar power in place by next summer.

Triple T Ranch and Farm, founded in 1983 by Larry Tristano, attends Redwood Empire Farmers Market at the Veterans Building in Santa Rosa on Wednesday and Saturday, the Marin Civic Center Farmers Market in San Rafael on Thursday and Sunday and the Sebastopol Farmers Market on Sunday.

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