Stemple Creek Ranch has been home to the Poncia family for over a century. Located in Marin County, near the coastal town of Tomales, the 1,000-acre ranch began as a dairy farm but has been reinvented in recent years to produce grass-fed and finished meats.
Run by husband and wife team Loren and Lisa Poncia, the team at Stemple Creek Ranch works in harmony with Mother Nature to promote optimal biodiversity and ensure the long term health and productivity of the land.
Their beef is all grass-fed, and grass-finished: the cows do not eat any grain or soy and never spend any time in feedlots. Instead, the animals at Stemple Creek feast on a diet of organic forage that grows in the Poncia Family fields. Beyond that, we are proud to say that all the Stemple Creek meat we sell is certified organic. Good Earth worked with Stemple Creek to help provide them with the support and demand they needed to start producing certified organic meat.
Stemple Creek also goes above and beyond the standard when it comes to care and responsibility for their animals. They never give the animals any hormones, growth promoters, or antibiotics. Their humane animal welfare practices are certified by the Global Animal Partnership program as well.
For four generations, the Poncia family has stewarded the land of Stemple Creek, and in recent years, they’ve implemented a number of practices to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.
Every acre of Stemple Creek is protected through the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), which means that the land will remain in the Marin County agricultural community forever.
In 2013, Stemple Creek joined two other Marin County farms in a decade-long study of carbon farming conducted by the Marin Carbon Project. As part of the study, organic compost was spread across a portion of Stemple Creek’s acreage to help capture carbon in the soil. The compost also helps improve moisture retention within the soil, which helps extend the growing season of the grasses that the Stemple Creek cows graze on. The Marin Carbon Project is carefully monitoring the project and early results look positive. In 2014 and 2015, the compost treated areas consistently maintained higher forage production than the untreated land on the farm.
In addition to their use of compost, the Poncias also use rotational grazing on the ranch, and have developed creative ways to help support this practice. Loren Poncia created an intricate system of moveable fencing which can be easily reconfigured to create mini pastures within much larger fields. The cows are rotated through these mini pastures to help prevent erosion, promote new growth and prevent the fields from being overgrazed. Like many California farmers, the Poncias have had to find ways to adapt to drought conditions. They’ve installed gravity-flow tanks to collect and distribute water for livestock and planted trees to create natural windbreaks on their property to prevent the land from drying.