To the Adjani family, field peas are the perfect plant. Chris Adjani, farmer and co-owner of Noci Sonoma farmstead, waxes poetic about the way field peas work as cover crops to add a healthy amount of nitrogen to his farm’s soil. Aria Adjani, Chris’ wife and Noci Sonoma’s co-owner and culinary director, loves the field peas for their delicate flavor, which is excellent tossed into a seasonal salad. Their kids, Miles (age 5) and Siena (age 3), don’t have to say a thing to make their love of field peas clear. They’re too busy reaching into the vines to pluck the pods for an afternoon snack.
A passion for field peas wasn’t always in the plan for the Adjani family. Chris and Aria met on a video chat for work when they were living halfway across the world from each other: Aria was traveling through Italy learning how to cook and Chris was in Los Angeles working on web design.
Eventually they were married and, with a baby on the way, they decided they wanted a different kind of life for themselves something more like the relaxed lifestyle and delicious food Aria experienced in Italy. In 2014 they moved to Healdsburg, a small town in California’s Sonoma Valley, where they bought a 24-acre plot of land and planned to build their dream home on it.
Chris bought his first tractor just to clear the land before they started building. But, after a couple of long days on the land, he realized it could be so much more than a place to live. “We started to envision the property as an edible garden farm—someplace where gardeners and food enthusiasts could coexist,” says Aria.
Since then, the property has evolved into Noci Sonoma, a modern permaculture farm, where members can come to harvest their own produce from the farm’s dozens of culinary gardens and picnic or dine on the beautiful grounds.
Running a farm isn’t always easy but, in California’s wine country, it’s always rewarding. “This place is in a beautiful valley with a creek running by and mountains and vineyards all around us,” says Chris. “It’s pretty amazing to have a farm in the middle of all of that.”
Read on to get a glimpse into a day in the life of Aria and Chris Adjani as they build Noci Sonoma.
Chris: Before getting out of bed, I pry open my eyes and grab my iPhone. I am checking on the status of the farm via text with the gardeners or checking on the progress of the building. Then I jump out of bed and quickly put on my gardening outfit: old jeans, boots, a t-shirt and my belt that holds my clippers.
Aria: In the morning I’ll walk the farm and gather up some fresh berries or stone fruit to have with breakfast.
Aria: Depending on how cold of a morning it is, I will make either a hot bowl of porridge or bake some whole-grain fall apple spice muffins. Either (or both!) will be served alongside some cultured butter and one of the many jars of fresh Noci-grown berry jam I made all summer long.
Chris: I like to have a nice, talkative morning with my wife and children before leaving for work. My kids Miles (age 5) and Siena (age 3) will question me and tell me about all the fun they are about to have today.
Chris: I arrive at Noci Sonoma to begin my work day. The gardeners and farmers have already been there since sunrise at 5:30. I start my day with a lengthy chat with the head gardener, Michael. He gets me up to speed on the gardening projects going on this morning. We then walk the entire farm and plan out the next steps. This morning we are talking about the construction of our new 400-foot natural pools.
Chris: Time to jump in the tractor. My task this morning is to clear three acres of high grass and weeds with our John Deere tractor. After the grass is cleared, Michael and I stake out the area for the natural pools and talk about which plants are going where and how should we create a private space around the pools.
Aria: By now we’re all a bit hungry again so I make a green vegetable-goat cheese frittata with the eggs we harvested in the morning. It’s the best part of having chickens! That’s served alongside a warm cup of root vegetable soup and a garden salad.
Chris: I check in the with the building team. Our front retail building foundations are already built, but in a few days, the bathroom building foundation will be poured, and the team is getting ready for the building inspector. I look over the plans and make a list of products we will need for the buildings. Lighting, doors, siding and so on.
Chris: I’m back in the tractor to clear the back two acres. We are going to add in ground sprinklers to the back fields, and the garden team needs to have it cleared.
Chris: Last walk around the gardens. I check on the status of our hundreds of fruit trees. Our gardener Rachel has been busy adding our chicken compost around each tree to help us boost the growth over the summer.
Aria: If it’s a nice night, we like to have dinner outside. We grill a lot when we eat dinner on the farm. My son loves to collect wood and build a fire, so he starts working on that.
Aria: I’m grilling local pork chops which is so simple: Just a sprinkling of flaky sea salt, freshly milled black pepper, fresh chopped rosemary from the garden and a drizzle of olive oil before they go on the grill. I’ll serve it with a fresh garden chimichurri sauce and an Indian summer quinoa salad with the abundant amount of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers and fresh herbs grown on the farm topped off with some feta.
Aria: For dessert it’s either a black fig tart or persimmon pudding with fresh whipped cream. But our kids won’t eat it, because all they want are the roasted marshmallows they make over the fire!
Chris: We do a last check and walk around the farm. Check that all the chickens are inside there house and close the doors for the night.
Learn more about Noci Sonoma—and see our harvest dinner held there—in the video below.