Devil's Gulch Ranch

The Devil's Gulch Ranch and farm in Nicasio

The best we can tell is Devil's Gulch got the name well before the ranch was formed. Devil's Gulch was the passageway between Nicasio Valley and Paper Mill Creek. The local history seems to indicate that the gulch got its name because of how treacherous this important trail was. In 1864 Devil's Gulch Ranch (873 acres) split off from a larger parcel and was purchased by two Martinelli Brothers, Union Army Civil War officers using their wages to start fresh in California.

 

The main barn built in 1867 is still in use today. It was part of the dairy farm selling cream for butter, while the skim milk went for the production of pork. The ranch was passed on from heirs to heirs until 1969 when John Moreda sold the ranch to a developer who split the ranch into parcels. In 1971 Mark Pasternak purchased the heart of the ranch (65 acres), moved there, and began the creation of the ranch as it is today. The remainder of the 873 acres was purchased by other individuals, and was subsequently purchased by the federal government in 1980, and is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area.

 

Mark was joined by his wife, Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak DVM in 1987 and their two daughters, Lydia and Kyla, thereafter. Mark and Myriam's combined agricultural experience totals more than 60 years.

 

In 2004 Mark approached Brian King an agricultural/industrial technology instructor about the idea of having an agricultural summer camp. That summer, with the collaboration of Brian and a core volunteer, we offered 4 weeks of camp for 15 kids each week. Some weeks had as little as 6 children! But by the end of summer we had to offer a 5th week due to popular demand and kids had to be turned away. The second year we offered many more sessions and had a theme each week, be it shop, horses, primitive skills, etc. Most of the summer we turned kids away. Some awesome things happened that summer including the construction of the wind turbine by some of the campers.

 

The camp has grown to be very popular offering a broad scope of classes. We now offer 10 weeks of summer day camp capped at 25 regular students and 5 Leadership students. We also offer various workshops throughout the year. The camp is now accredited with the American Camping Association and operates as a 501c3 charitable organization.

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DGES is the Ranch's education program which offers a Summer Day Camp at Devil's Gulch Ranch, focusing on connecting children with nature and farming. Kids and their families get a chance to experience food production from the farm, through their local farmer's market and often into their own kitchens.

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