Big River Nurseries is on the site of the Historic China Gardens that provided produce and fruit to early loggers.
The site, on the south side of Big River, across from Mendocino Village, was first settled by Nate Smith after he sold his “claim” to lumbermen to the north side of Big River- the area that became known as the Mendocino Headlands and the redwood forests to the east. After Nate moved-on to hunt and fish providing meat for the loggers who flooded into the area, intense farming began. Chinese laborers, who mostly lived in the Village, established individual plots to provide produce and fruit that helped feed the loggers. A prolific spring, not commonly found near the coast, provided much needed water. The Chinese farmed adjacent to an orchard of pears and apples and a few of these trees remain today.
Beginning in 1985 Big River Nurseries on the site of the historic China Gardens offered wholesale and retail sales of California Certified Organic starts of lettuces, cabbages, fruits, and herbs. Eventually Big River Nurseries supplied Mendocino’s only vegetarian restaurant, the Ravens’ at the Stanford Inn by the Sea.
In the 1990’s, Dana Ecelberger, director of the nurseries, began offering seminars in everything organic farming – propagation, composting, cultivation of exotic plants, deer tolerant or drought tolerant landscapes. In the 2000’s, Big River Nurseries set up edible landscapes and gardens at Mendocino Middle and Grammar Schools.
Big River Nursersies uses French intensive, biointensive, and organic methods, to raise a wide variety of lettuces, cabbages, spinach, radishes and gourmet vegetables such as radicchio, mizuna, arugula, and tah tsai. Some beds are used to provide cut flowers and others are rose beds.
Big River Nurseries is open every day. Class schedule can be found on their website. Garden tours are available by prior appointment, however, the public is welcome to view the gardens. Big River Nurseries also offers retail sales of produce starts.
Activities at this Site
Garden Tours, classes.
Hours Open: 9-5 every day
Seasons Open: All Year
Sustainable. USDA Certified Organic. Grows without the use of animal products. Large composting operation. Developing perennial gardens.
Locally or Family Owned Business
Pet Friendly Notes
Pets are welcome on paths and kept away from beds of edible plants. Dogs must be under the control of their humans.
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