Sebastopol

Member of the United States National Network

Eclectic, artistic, green, health-conscious, and sometimes a little quirky...that's Sebastopol!

Geographical Area:
A little over an hour north of San Francisco, and a little less than an hour west of Napa, Sebastopol is a charming community of 8,000 nestled in the wine country of western Sonoma County. For those who'd like to visit three Cittaslow cities together, Sebastopol is within an hour's drive of both Fairfax and Sonoma, and is an easy 30 minutes from the breathtaking coast of northern California.

We are a nuclear-free zone with a whimsical, creative spirit; rich agricultural traditions; and a long-standing appreciation of the beautiful rolling hills and wetlands that border our historic California redwood forests.

Economy and Typical Products

Our community motto is "Local Flavor, Global Vision"

Sebastopol is at the crossroads of Highway 12 to the coast, and Highway 116 to the Russian River. Although small, our town has long been a cultural and economic hub for the area, providing nourishment and stimulation for the mind, body and spirit.

Below is a small sampling of the many organizations, events and businesses that make up our local economy and make Sebastopol Cittaslow.

Sustainable agriculture

Slow Foods Russian River - We have a very active chapter with ongoing workshops and a lively Facebook community.

Save the Gravensteins - A local coalition working to support area apple farmers and preserve our historic tie to this special variety, which is uniquely suited to the Sebastopol microclimate.

Numerous organic farms - many of which offer CSA programs (community supported agriculture) offering subscriptions for a weekly delivery of a box of locally grown produce.

iGrow Sonoma County - Many Sebastopolians participate in the annual garden challenge to add 365 new home vegetable gardens each year.

Sebastopol Farmers' Market - Where locals gather each Sunday to enjoy music, produce, smoked meats, crafts, and artisan cheeses and breads.

Earth Camp - A summer day camp for kids that teaches sustainability and living with the earth as part of its daily curriculum.

Local products: The Arts

Sculpture walk - Local folk artist Patrick Amiot creates whimsical characters that decorate lawns and pastures throughout the town. The Florence St. neighborhood serves as an outdoor museum of this artist's creativity.

Open studio tours - For two weekends in June (Art at the Source) and two in the fall (Art Trails), area artists open their studios for visitors to view their work and learn more about the creative process.

Theater and wine tasting: Main Stage West hosts rotating performances of locally produced works. In uniquely Sonoma County fashion, the theater lobby doubles as the tasting room for a local winery and offers tastings during the day, and at performance intermissions.

Bluegrass Jam session Saturday afternoons at our local coffeehouse – Longtime musicians meet to play favorite bluegrass tunes on banjo, steel guitar, fiddle, harmonica and other American folk instruments.

Summer concerts at the Plaza - From classical to rock to folk and jazz, bring a picnic and enjoy a wide variety of performances by local musicians.

The Sebastopol Center for the Arts - offers exhibits and classes, and sponsors the annual international Documentary Film Festival.

Hospitality
Sebastopol is known for its creative spirit and environmental awareness. Consider this sampling of area restaurants celebrating our history and community values.

Honor Sebastopol's railroad past by enjoying fine local wines and a gourmet menu served in a vintage Pullman car at the Gravenstein Station.

Check out the elegant river rock masonry on the old electric powerhouse that once supported the railroad. The building has been converted to a lively tavern, beer garden, and community gathering spot with local bands playing many nights of the week. This village pub also hosts Ignite Sebastopol!, a semi-annual presentation of local passion, hobbies and vision.

Dine on the lovely patio or in the cozy dining room of a French restaurant where all the produce for the menu is grown at the restaurant's nearby organic farm.

Support green architecture and an earth-friendly lifestyle by visiting an organic wine bar and restaurant (including vegan entrees), located at the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold-certified Florence Lofts work-live complex.

Pick up a backpacker cookie (or two) at our downtown cookie bakery where "A balanced diet = a cookie in each hand."

And while you are visiting, stay in a variety of unique lodging facilities, for example

A remodeled 1897 Victorian farmhouse in the middle of vineyards and apple orchards, only 3 miles north of downtown.

A locally owned and operated inn that is part of the historic Gravenstein Station and situated right on the Joe Rodota bike trail.

A farmstay on a 23-acre horse ranch that also sponsors Harmony with Horses workshops.

Enjoying outdoor activities

Bike trails! - Our railroad history serves us well as the old rail lines have now been converted to well-maintained bike trails that meander through wetlands and vineyards, providing miles of relaxing, non-car touring and wildlife viewing.

Tour de California - This world-class bike race brings cycling aficionados from all over the globe as they pedal through our vineyards and wetlands on the way to the coast.

iWalk Sebastopol - Monthly walks through various routes in town, each one featuring a theme relating to our history, ecology or cultural traditions.

Ragle Ranch - This 157-acre park lies at the west edge of town and features a peace garden, miles of nature trails through California oak groves, a picnic area, a children's playground, a dog park, and several outdoor sport facilities (soccer field, par course, tennis courts and volleyball courts).

Laguna de Santa Rosa - Home to bald eagles, mountain lions and river otters, the Laguna lies at the eastern edge of Sebastopol, only a few blocks from downtown. This unique ecosystem becomes a lake in the winter and serves as an important stopover in the Pacific Flyway. The Laguna Learning Center is housed in a Civil War era farmhouse and offers tours and exhibits, including classes in the basketry techniques of the Laguna native tribes. Seasonal trails and kayaking are also available.

Community Spirit

Ceres Community Project - This Sebastopol gem teaches area teens how to prepare meals from organically grown food, which they then distribute to members of the community who are coping with serious, life-limiting illness.

iWalk Sebastopol - Once a month a member of the community leads a daytime or evening walk from downtown. One walk may focus on the social and cultural history of Sebastopol, another on the great variety of trees, a third may include a tour of parks in our village.

Science Buzz Cafe - Based on the concept of the Penny University, professional scientists and community members offer weekly presentations to all comers on topics ranging from DNA to the cosmos and everything in between.

Redwood Rainbows - is Sonoma County's gay, lesbian and straight square dance club with classes offered at all levels in this American traditional dance form.

Ignite Sebastopol! - Sponsored by a locally based leader in technology publications (owned by Tim O'Reilly, the man who coined the term "Web 2.0"), this is our local version of TED.com. Ignite Sebastopol! is a semi-annual event that allows community members an opportunity to share an idea or hobby they feel passionate about.

The CORE Project - A group of dedicated community citizens created an international competition inviting architects and urban planners from around the world to submit designs to help Sebastopol address some of its current challenges (e.g., traffic) and emphasize its many strengths. They received 24 submissions from entrants as far away as Thailand and Argentina. The Core Project has been using these designs to distill themes which could be used as a basis for the city's General Plan].

Sustainable environmental policies
Through the efforts of Solar Sebastopol, our small village has made it top priority to convert public buildings, and as many private structures as possible, to solar energy. Among others, there are solar panels installed on our

Police Station

High School

Local community pool at Ives Park

Dragon solar panel sculpture at the southern entry to town

Sonoma County has one of the highest usage rates of solar energy in the state, in no small part because of the efforts of Solar Sebastopol.

Sebastopol is participating in the "Sonoma County Electric Trail" campaign which seeks to encourage the use of electric vehicles by providing charging stations in locations convenient for visitors and residents.

Sebastopol also has an aggressive water conservation policy and minimum green requirements for new construction within the city limits.

Slow Foods in Sebastopol
The Slow Foods Russian River Convivium includes the town of Sebastopol. This is a lively chapter with frequent workshops and a popular and engaging Facebook community.

An important project of Slow Foods Russian River is the Save the Gravensteins movement. This sweet-tart variety of apple is uniquely suited to the Sebastopol climate, but is endangered due to a number of factors. Many of the apple farmers cultivate land that has been growing apples for over a century. The Gravenstein Apple Presidia (the first Presidia in California, and one of only six U.S. Presidia projects) works to support the dozen remaining commercial growers and the two commercial apple processors that still operate in the Sebastopol area.

History and Culture
Native peoples: The traditions of our region begin with the first nation Miwok and Pomo tribes. The latter were known worldwide for their amazingly intricate basketry, and appear to have had up to 11 encampments alongside the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

Early 1800's: The next wave of immigrants to arrive at the Laguna comprised settlers from Mexico. The area was carved up into land grants which were eventually sold off to U.S. Citizens of European descent. As the population of California swelled with the Gold Rush of 1849, Sebastopol became a town with its own post office in 1850, serving as a trading center for area farmers.

Our Russian heritage: The name Sebastopol (Seh-BASS-toh-pohl) comes from the Russian seaport of Sevastopol, which was then under siege by the British during the Crimean War. The area had strong ties to Russia due to the Russian colony at Fort Ross, which still stands today, located to the north and west of Sebastopol, on the California coast.

Other immigrants: The early part of the 20th century saw many waves of immigrants from Italy, Portugal, China and Japan. In fact, Sebastopol boasts an authentic Buddhist Temple, the Enmanji Temple built in the 1930's and transplanted to our town by the local Japanese community.

Our agricultural roots: Sebastopol has long been known for the fertility of its soil. Early crops included cherries, apples and hops. The remains of old hop drying ovens can be seen on many hillsides and orchards. By the 1940's, apples took the lead as the primary crop, most notably the Gravenstein apple. With the growth of the wine industry in nearby Napa County, many apple orchards have been replaced by vineyards. Grapes and dairies are now the primary agricultural focus of our town.

Noted botanist, Luther Burbank. In 1885, Luther Burbank purchased 18 acres in Sebastopol, which he made into his Gold Ridge Experimental Farm. Here he conducted most of his experiments with grafting and hybridized plants. Luther Burbank is most famous for his development of the Santa Rosa plum and the Shasta Daisy. Three acres of his farm are still intact, with the cottage and outbuildings fully restored. Visitors are welcome at the farm and can walk through self-guided trails that lead to 200 of his original plantings.

The impact of the railroad: In the early 1900's, the train was significant part of our development as an agricultural center. Although the trains no longer run, the depot and support buildings have been restored and converted into offices, a museum and a lively tavern. The old railway routes have been paved over to become world- renowned bike and walking trails that stretch from Santa Rosa to Forestville.

Events:

Check these local calendars for unique festivals and activities:

Slow Foods Russian River 

Farm Trails

Visit Sebastopol 

Annual Festivals:

March

Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

April

Apple Blossom Festival and Parade 

May

Roma Festival 

June

Art at the Source 

July

Enmanji Temple Teriyaki BBQ and cultural festival

August

Gravenstein Apple Fair 

September

Cajun Zydeco Festival 

Weekends along the Farm Trails

October

Art Trails 

Historical Society Cemetery Walk and Supper 

December

Sebastopol's Tree Lighting Ceremony