Fallon Ranch, Tomales
186 ACRES MALT-PROTECTED SINCE 2015
A bright ribbon of green announces Stemple Creek’s meandering passage through Fallon Ranch. In this quiet countryside east of Tomales, dairy cattle graze on gentle, grassy hills, while organic tomatoes, squash and potatoes grow row by row in fertile soil. Scott Murphy purchased this 186-acre ranch in 1979 as a young member of a long-time coastal California farming family, and since then he has made a home and a life here on the ranch.
A family tradition
As a young man, Scott learned how to care for the land by working alongside his father and grandfather as they improved their land on the Point Reyes Peninsula. “When I bought this place in 1979, there were practically no trees here – just a few eucalyptus up on the ridge,” Scott said. “The creek was just this ditch, kind of green slime into September. I’ve planted thousands of trees over the years, fenced in the creek, put up windbreaks – the place really looks a lot better now.”
Since it was fenced and replanted, the willow-shaded stretch of Stemple Creek through Fallon Ranch has seen the return of 20 different bird species, just one indication of the restoration’s ongoing success.
Cows, veggies and potatoes
Scott currently leases the ranch’s organic farmland and pastures to other local producers: Larry Peter, who owns the Petaluma Creamery, grazes dairy cattle on 120 acres of gentle, grassy hills. David Little of Little Organic Farm grows dry-farmed potatoes, squash and tomates on another 23 acres.
Turning to MALT
Small ranches in scenic enclaves like Tomales are at high risk for development, as the market for country estates heats up throughout the Bay Area. Fallon Ranch, situated along a main road and already divided into two legal parcels, was especially vulnerable. Anne Murphy, who co-owned the ranch with Scott, is considering a move out of the area and needed to sell her half of the ranch.
But neither of them wanted to see the ranch split up. Had half of the ranch sold, it’s not likely Scott would have been able to maintain a financially viable operation on the land that remained in his ownership. Marin County could have lost 186 acres of important farmland, along with the measureless benefits of Scott’s careful stewardship and expert knowledge of his land.“I was saving that easement until I really needed it. I’m glad that MALT came along, because that could have been a real sad moment if I couldn’t have kept the ranch together,” said Scott.
Proceeds from the sale of a MALT easement enabled Scott to purchase Anne's share and consolidate the ranch. Scott and Anne are relieved to know that the ranch will stay whole and in his own good hands. Scott is proud of the work he’s done to transform Fallon Ranch into a green and productive landscape, but he gives a lot of credit to his family, who taught him how to care for the land. “I just try to do the best I can. I was fortunate grow up around people who had land and took care of it well. I had some good examples.”
Knowing that his ranch’s future is secure, Scott is even looking forward to planting a redwood forest near his house. “It’s me, six dogs, three old horses out here … life isn’t bad, man. Life is pretty good.”
How to Purchase Fallon Ranch products
Scott Murphy currently leases land to the Petaluma Creamery and Little Organic Farm.
Visit Petaluma Creamery »
Little Organic Farms sells organic, dry-farmed potatoes at groceries and farmers markets around the Bay Area. View a list »
View a slideshow of Fallon Ranch »