Dave Smith Bio…


West of Yuma February 2019…
Mendocino Forest June 2018 before the fires…
Dave Smith, a preacher’s kid, born in California and raised in Miami, Florida, has resided in North California (except for several years in Santa Fe, New Mexico) since 1963. He is Editor/Publisher of this blog (no longer posting), and the Mendocino Talking blog, published The Contrary Farmer and The Contrary Minister blogs … and is author of To Be Of Use – The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work; was founder of Smith & Hawken whose original mission was providing sturdy hand tools to organic farmers.


After dropping out of a fundamentalist christian college in Florida (Southeastern Bible College, now re-named Southeastern University) and then working in Silicon Valley as a computer systems analyst, he became involved in Vietnam War protests with the Friends Meeting (Quakers) and the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence (Joan Baez) in Palo Alto. He applied for Conscientious Objector status while serving with the National Guard (Band), and was honorably discharged. He then volunteered as an organizer for the Farm Workers Union which eventually led to his becoming Executive Assistant to César Chávez  (see video below).


Dave co-founded and co-managed Briarpatch Natural Foods Co-opand ran the Briarpatch Network branch in Menlo Park, California, and has held senior executive positions in Real Goods, SelfCare Catalog, Seeds of Change, Diamond Organics, and co-founded Organic Bouquet. He has served on the boards of directors of Ecology Action, Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op, and Mendocino Environmental Center in Mendocino County, California; and is cofounder of Mendocino Organic Network, an alliance of farmers and citizens promoting local, organic, and sustainable farming through its Mendocino Renegade organic certification program.


He was the proprietor of Mulligan Books & Seeds in downtown Ukiah 2008 – 2014 in Mendocino County.


In retirement Dave practices guitar and makes music on his iPad, and takes extended road trips in his camper van. He is an atheist, social democrat, and cooperatist.


Dave’s 2 Minute Ditties

(best with earphones)


Got Them Uglies
He’s Goin’ Down
Where Were You?
Spud Junkie

Latest Song…




Finding Meaningful Work (Video 28mins)

On the United Farm Workers picket line, Bakersfield, 1968

Dave’s Time With Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers Union 1968 – 1973


Cesar and Josh

Cesar Chavez with Dave’s son Josh and other staff kids living at the United Farm Workers Headquarters, La Paz (now a National Monument), Keene, California, in the Tehachapi hills above Bakersfield, 1973.

Please See My Time With The Farmworkers Union in the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

Annual Cesar Chavez Day is March 31st.


 Published by New World Library

My only anxiety is what I can do… could I not be of use and good for something?… And in a picture I wish to say something that would console as music does. ~Van Gogh

Josh Smith is one of the founders of the Wakeboarding sport…


Video at Wakeboarding Hall Of Fame

To be of use

by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.


My Hero, Dolores Huerta, CoFounder of the United Farm Workers Union