Founder and creator:  Daniel D’Agostini


The property, approximately five acres, is situated on a gentle north slope of an east-west running ridge in the eastern end of the Shenandoah Valley of Amador County. My father’s family settled in the Shenandoah Valley in 1909, and when my father returned from W.W.II in 1945, he purchased this piece of land from his father. My father passed away in 2006 and in 2008, I retired from teaching early to move  home and help my mother who was in her mid-nineties.  After her passing I have been given the privilege to be the steward over land known and loved since my earliest memories.

Aside from the winery and vineyards the family farmed like most everyone in the early days of this valley. Cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, orchards, big gardens. Here we had a smattering of  everything including 13 walnut trees.

The walnut trees were planted fifty years ago and my sister and I had to help look after them as part of our 4-H projects. The fig tree, a wonderful mission, came from one of the trees my nonie planted in 1914. Over the years my mum and dad put in various trees and vines. The Meyer lemon that is so full and prolific was the eleventh my mum planted searching for the right location. This one survived against the eastern side of the house and is kept from freezing by the old fashion Christmas lights in winter.

A lifetime of gardening and being around old time gardeners like my nonie, uncles, family friends, as well as paying attention to approaches such as permaculture, organic, and Biodynamic all factor into my methods here. My methods are guided by an inquisitive mind that sees interconnections between everything. In public schools I taught ecology and attended early Eco-Farm Conferences at Asilomar during winter. (From the mid-1980’s I included organic gardening into my classroom curriculum and established large organic gardens in the public schools.* )

Having said the above it should be clear that no synthetic petroleum based herbicides, fungicides,  insecticides, or fertilizers are used on the property.

I aim to build soil fertility. To do this I plant cover crops. I make compost-lots. I also amend some of my soils with products from Peaceful  Valley Farm & Garden Supply such as their Foothill mix a blend of soft rock phosphate, gypsum, oyster shell lime, sulfate of potash and kelp meal. I also sprinkle Azomite. Increasingly it is my compost and mulch that go into the soil.

I rotate crops and leave areas fallow with a cover crop to disrupt fungal and pest problems.

I build diversity by trying to have as many flowers as non flowers as well as flowers blooming at different times. The more insects the better, then they control each other. The same for birds. I feed them and encourage them. I have blue bird houses and a barn owl house.

I pay attention to the plants and in times of stress may folier feed them with  kelp (maxi crop) yucca  (Thermix 70) calcium 20 – all products from Peaceful Valley (one can go to : for product descriptions and uses.) I also regularly make use of compost teas, or any of a number of teas made from various flowers such as yarrow, chamomile, dandelion,  valerian, oak bark and particularly nettles as well as the Biodynamic preparations: 500 , 501, cow pat,  and horsetail (equisetum). A spray of milk or whey is fantastic for washing off mildew.

Since 2008, the soil has been given the Biodynamic preps and all the compost I make receives the Pfeiffer preparations. The fall of 2011 we created a cow manure concentrate using cowpat pit method used in India. We also buried cow horns here for the first time in an attempt to produce our own preparation 500.

Controlling and living with weeds/excess growth is dealt with primarily by old fashioned hand pulling. I also do my share of  weed whacking.  Mulching is working well and on my gravel pathways and bricked areas I use a propane flamer. In June of 2011 I brought in 15 of one of my friend’s lambs to eat down the cover crop that was reaching shoulder height – they did a really good job and left me a lot of fertilizer in exchange.

I’m adding chickens to the property and they too will assist in a bit of weed management and insect control in addition to friendship and their eggs. Currently for insect control I use netting, row covers, sticky barriers, pheromones, Safer soap, garlic & pepper sprays.

During the winter of 2012 I purchased a Golden Mean top bar hive and aspire to have Abbondanza be a sanctuary  as well as a local learning center for these precious creatures.

My property is deer fenced and it seems the major four legged pests are gophers and voles. For them I use barriers – wired basket for roots, hardware wire under raised beds, traps, a cat, owls, and even solar noise makers to drive them crazy.

Seed Choices: Turtle Seeds, Raphael Gardens (Sacramento) Peaceful Valley Farm, Johnny’s, Seeds of Change, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Seeds are my main choices. Definitely nothing Monsanto has a hand in!

Much of my water for the crops is supplied from an old spring equipped with a solar pump that sends it up to a high part of the hill to a holding tank. From there I send it back down to irrigate by drip and sprayers. I also have a deep well on the property for home and close to the house watering.

Our produce is sold at the Plymouth Farmer’s Market, and  periodically used at Taste, The Union, Amador Vintage Market, as well as the MotherLode  Harvest.

Throughout the year, family, friends, WWOOf interns in exchange for great food, camaraderie, and lessons learned, all team together to maintain, create, and harvest.

Abbondanza is the Italian word for abundance. Abundance of time, attention, and effort is spent here fostering healthy vital soil alive with microorganisms, mycorrhizal fungi, worms….LIFE. With that, one gains an abundance of good nutritious produce along with abundant joy and health just trying to keep up with the plants that grow in it.

*Aside from teaching many subjects in a thirty year career Daniel D’Agostini taught organic gardening for over twenty-five years and was a innovative leader in the school garden programs. In 1996, he was commissioned by the State Department of Education to draft the vision statement to put a garden in every school

Go to Galleries and click “School Gardens” for pictures and more links.