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How green is my valley? National lists ranking the greenest cities in the U.S. usually include the following factors: mass transit, walkable streets, clean energy, resource conservation, recycling, locally produced food and lots of inviting outdoor spaces. By these measures, Napa Valley is the greenest wine destination in more ways that one. Here are several ways to celebrated Earth Day, everyday in Napa Valley.
1. Plant a garden. Forni Brown Welsh, provider of organic specialty fruit, vegetables and herbs to Napa Valley’s finest restaurants for 30 years, is open to the public only once a year in the months of April (Thur-Sun) and May (Thur-Sat). And on one date during this event, Asian seed specialists Maya Shiroyama and Jim Ryugo of Kitazawa Seed visit to answer any questions about Asian seeds, vegetables and food preparation ideas. Open 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. 1214 Pine Street at Cedar, south of Lincoln. (707) 942-6123.
2. Take mass transit. The Wine Train has the “greenest” views of Napa Valley in more ways than one. The trains, running on energy-efficient CNG fuel, are the most relaxing way to revel in the beauty of Napa Valley with elevated views of the vineyards and mountains beyond. If you’re coming in from the city, leave the car behind entirely. The folks at the Wine Train will arrange your trip from SF directly to the Wine Train depot. 1275 McKinstry Street, Napa, CA 94559. (707) 253-2111 or (800) 427-4124. winetrain.com.
3. Conserve land. The Land Trust of Napa County has helped protect 10% of Napa County farmland, natural resources and wildlife corridors through acquisitions, land-use agreements with owners and transfers to public agencies. They also offer little-known “field trips” through these spectacular lands, some gratis to the public, many more offered to members for as little as $40 per annum ($30 for students). This year, they have doubled the number of outdoor excursions such as hikes, runs and themed activities focusing on art, yoga and photography. Family friendly. Connect with the land at napalandtrust.org.
4. Preserve history – Richard Moe, past President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said “the greenest building is one that already exists.” If that is the case, then Downtown Napa is one of the greenest towns in California with its high concentration of landmarked homes, neighborhoods and structures. Appreciate these treasures by taking one of the Napa County Landmarks’ docent-led Historic Walking Tours throughout the year or drop by the Napa Valley Welcome Center at the Riverfront for a self-guided walking tour map. This year, a special all-day tour of historic Pope Valley and Aetna Springs Resort was given by Napa Landmarks in conjunction with the Napa Historical Society. See preservation in action. Napa Landmarks and Napa Historical Society are both located in the Goodman Building – California’s oldest libray – at 1219 First Street, Napa, CA 94559. napacountylandmarks.org and napahistory.org.
5. Repurpose – If the greenest building is one that still exists, then the greenest souvenir is an antique. It is also most likely to be one of a kind. Downtown Napa has several antique shops to peruse. My favorites are Antiques on Second (1370 2nd St. at Franklin) and Alice’s Consignments at 810 Randolph at Third.
6. Support sustainable food. The “Napa” in Napa Valley means ‘plentiful’ for its rich agricultural bounty from grains in the 19th century to today’s winegrapes and organically-grown produce at our farmers’ markets and farm-to-table restaurants. Visit Oxbow Public Market which features dozens of sustainable and artisanal food purveyors, and then drop by next door for the farmers’ market open mornings on Tuesdays and Saturdays from May 1 to October 30. 610/644 First Street, Napa, CA 94559. oxbowpublicmarket.com.
7. Learn about sustainability. If you are in the Napa Valley on Earth Day, join the festivities taking place in Downtown Napa at the Veterans Memorial Park on the Napa riverfront. earthdaynapa.com.
Throughout the year, check on epicuring.com to find out about the best sustainable and artisanal food events in California.