Valley Ford

The Estero Café was formed by mother daughter team, Ariana Strozzi and Wesley Smith of Valley Ford and their dear friend Karen Fuller of Bodega Bay. Inspired by many years of cooking for family and friends and catering for local programs, we decided to open the cafe for locals and traveling tourists to enjoy family style dining, espresso, fine teas and beer and wine. In addition to our delicious breakfast and lunches of soups, salads, sandwiches and warm meals, we make a point to serve healthy local and organic produce, meats and cheeses.

The Estero Café is named after the Estero de Americano which characterizes Valley Ford. The town of Valley Ford, just north of the Estero is 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean, 7 miles from Dillon Beach and 9 miles from Bodega Bay.

An Estuary is considered a partially enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it and with a free connection to the open sea. Numerous creeks and streams flow into the Estero De Americano, which meets the sea north of Dillon Beach at Bodega Bay. The Estero is a mixture of fresh water and seawater and experiences the change in tides from the ocean. The combination of seawater and freshwater provide high levels of nutrients, making it one of the most productive and precious natural habitats in the world.

In addition to being a rich environment for fish, birds and wildlife, estuaries act as the harbinger of the environment. Estuaries are affected by events far upstream and concentrate materials such as pollutants and sediments. The health of the estuary that flows through Marin and Sonoma County is a reflection of the health of the surrounding environment, and thus can signal us when things are not in balance.

Europeans, mostly Italians, Basque and Swedish explored the area in the early 17th century but did not settle here until 1812. Prior to the settlement by Europeans, Valley Ford and the streams along the Estero were inhabited by the Coast Miwok and Pomo Indians. Two permanent villages were located on the Estero, one named Uli-yomi at the head of the Estero and another Awachi at the mouth. In Valley Ford a Miwok village named Ewapalt resided near the Valley Ford Schoolhouse.

Valley Ford had a grain mill in the mid-19th century and became a stop on the North Pacific Coast Railroad in the 1870’s, connecting Cazadero to the Sausalito Ferry, enabling local ranchers and fishers to export to San Francisco. The train ran from Sausalito to San Rafael, Fairfax, Pt Reyes, Marshall, Tomales, Valley Ford, Freestone, Occidental, Monte Rio, Duncan Mills and Cazadero.  Service started to Mill Valley in 1903.

In 1976, the world-renowned artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, installed the Running Fence. Running Fence, the culmination of 42 months of collaborative efforts, was 24 1/2 miles long and 18 feet high, with one end dropping down to the Pacific Ocean. This monumental temporary artwork was made of 240,000 square yards of heavy woven white nylon fabric, 90 miles of steel cable, 2,050 steel poles, 350,000 hooks, and 13,000 earth anchors. Paid for entirely by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the completed Running Fence existed for only two weeks in September of 1976.

The Estero de Americano is a 7.5 mile long stream beginning 4 miles west of Cotati, paralleling Roblar Road, traveling past a closed landfill and Bloomfield, paralleling Valley Ford Rd for many miles, flowing under Hwy 1 at the border of Marin and Sonoma County and eventually crossing Valley Ford Rd. The last several miles of the Estero are virtually without road access or visibility from public roads. It’s mouth lies near the north end of the Gulf of the Farralones National Marine Sanctuary about 4 miles southeast of the town of Bodega Bay.

California’s 1994 water quality report designated all of Americano Creek and most of the Estero Americano as “impaired” streamways, like many estuaries throughout the country. The estero’s headwaters (places from which the stream originates) are a historic habitat of a number of rare and endangered species including Sebastopol meadowfoam, Showy Indian clover and the Pitkin Marsh Lily.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Liz Jung
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 03:53:34

    Can’t wait until your doors are open to fuel our tummies and feed our souls!
    Love to you all!


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