Two Sunday Events Celebrate Big Sur/Carmel Conservation
June 11, 2012
Sunday, June 10, was one delicious day to be a conservation donor.
On the agenda: a gourmet al fresco lunch, featuring a seldom-seen vista of the Carmel coastline, at Big Sur Land Trust's Whisler Wilson Ranch; and afterward, Ventana Wildlife Society's "Feathers in Flight" condor benefit at Holman Ranch.
BSLT staff shuttled about 60 donors, trustees and other supporters through Palo Corona Regional Park—a pastoral 10,000 acres linking the mouth of the Carmel Valley to northern Big Sur, which BSLT helped acquire in 2004—to Whisler Wilson Ranch (pictured above), a 317-acre property BSLT purchased in late 2010.
Among the dry grasses and under a sweltering mid-day sun, perched above the coast with a stunning view of Pebble Beach, Carmel River State Beach and Point Lobos, BSLT's guests were greeted by cool lemonade (made with Meyer lemons, honey and spring water from Peter Eichorn's Country Flat Farm), crusty homemade bread with lemon and peach spreads from Savor, wine from Heller Estates and Chalone Vineyards, and a fresh-as-it-gets sustainable buffet (including pastured heritage pork from Linda Ferrasci, daughter of former ranch steward Betty Wilson) from celebrated local chefs and dad/son duo, Mike and Brendan Jones.
The lunch was all about the vital connection between our land and food, and the contributing farmers and chefs—all of whom donated their ingredients and labor—told the stories of those connections. In closing, BSLT Executive Director Leahy read the famous John Steinback passage about the valley between Monterey and Salinas, which aptly applies to Whisler Wilson as well: "Perfect live oaks grew in the meadow of the lovely place, and the hills hugged it jealously against the fog and the wind."
As the BSLT lunch wrapped up, VWS's event kicked off just a few miles down Carmel Valley Road. The benefit starred a cast of live hawks and falcons (including fastest-in-the-world peregrines) and their handlers, four local falconers who taught open-mouthed kids and their equally rapt parents about the powerful predators. While falconry is primarily associated with hunting, VWS views it as a conservation tool—preserving the seed stock of imperiled birds of prey, protecting humans and wildlife at airports and landfills, and inspiring future generations through raptor education.
A hearty spread of appetizers, sandwiches, desserts, wine and beer kept attendees satisfied while they ambled about Holman's picturesque grounds, bidding on raffle items to benefit Ventana Wildlife Society's California condor program.
The live auction, after a welcome by VWS Executive Director Kelly Sorenson, included two private condor releases in Big Sur, a wine-and-pastry-fueled ride in a 1936 party bus, a stunning bronze condor sculpture, and two displays of vintage condor wing tags—each number linked with a remarkable story of survival in the Central California condor flock.