A Membership-Based Modern Farmstead Debuts in Sonoma
When Chris Adjani and Aria Alpert Adjani decided to move from LA to the Bay Area and build their own farm—with no experience, as they are keen to point out—they took a refreshingly new approach. The couple envisioned a place inspired by their love of food, family and design but with a twist: memberships that would enable others to enjoy the bounty. Located on 24 acres on Dry Creek Road just outside Healdsburg, Noci Sonoma is the realization of that dream: a modern farmstead where members can personally harvest their own vegetables and flowers, enjoy the landscape and gather with friends. While still in its first building phase, Noci is already open to members, and home to a farm stand, bird barn, and 15 unique living walled gardens including a chef's garden, water garden, berry garden, and a forest with a wildflower meadow.
Noci’s signature look is established by two black slatted wooden structures: an entry portal and garden pavilion. As Chris explains, “I didn’t want something that looked like it should be in LA or in a city, but it also shouldn’t look like a faux barn, either—that’s the past. The key is to be of now and be functional as a farm.” To that end, Chris worked with longtime friend Whitney Sander of Sander Architects to create a system of squares and grids that provide a footprint for the buildings and gardens. Of the first structure, a 20-by-40-foot entryway, Chris says, “This portal was my way of putting a hole in the ground—everything was going to be based upon this.” The far side of the property is anchored by the pavilion, a barn-like building with a deck and large folding doors that open up to the outdoors.
A larger structure is slated for completion in spring 2018: a 300-foot-long complex that will house a members’ lounge, space for workshops, a kitchen, and root cellars for storage. A natural green roof will conceal the building from the road and insulate it from the high-summer wine country heat. A black-sand-bottom, 400-foot natural swimming pool is in the works this year. This type of natural pool, popular in Europe, filters its water through adjacent planted regeneration areas, creating a self-sustaining ecosystem.
While Chris spearheads design, Aria is in charge of the gardens, creating the seed list and deciding which fruits, vegetables and flowers to plant. As she points out, “I’m the taste of Noci, and he’s the look.” The kitchen gardens are in full swing, with summer bringing heirloom tomatoes, artichokes, beans, blueberries, strawberries and much more. Aria’s personal recipes are featured on Noci’s blog. “I’m really inspired by what we’re growing. Whatever we have flourishing in the garden goes into the dishes,” she says.
While Noci is still in development, memberships are being offered at $250 a month and include access to the farm and 85 pounds of produce a month, whatever one might like to harvest. In the future, Chris and Aria plan to offer workshops, al fresco dinners, movie nights and more. With Noci, the couple created the kind of farm they wanted to visit, a place where they can hang out with their children, harvest their own food, and enjoy being outdoors. Aria notes, “It’s the new luxury—it’s not what you have, it’s what you do.”
A version of this article appeared in the June/July 2017 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Shared Abundance.