Best of Marin: Eco-friendly shops and places
1ST YEAR HALL OF FAME: BEST BUSINESS THAT PROMOTES GOING GREEN
Since 1969, Good Earth Natural Foods has been promoting ways for people to become eco-friendly. It’s no surprise that this company keeps winning the Best of Marin title. It’s now entering the Hall of Fame after living up to its good name for more than seven years. Good Earth Natural Foods offers customers the best organically grown products and encourages farmers and manufacturers to “produce food of higher quality.” The company believes that eating organic food gives people the best chance to “heal the earth and their bodies.” Good Earth is certainly doing its job, and is committed to serving Marin’s communities by promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle.
Good Earth Natural Foods
720 Center Blvd., Fairfax, 415/454-0123, genatural.com
1ST YEAR HALL OF FAME: BEST SOLAR SUPPLIER
Novato’s SolarCraft is being inducted into the Hall of Fame after being in service for more than 30 years. Since its opening in 1984, owners Dennis Nuttman and Bill Stewart have been providing solar energy services in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and other counties around the Bay Area. The company provides its customers with clean energy sources that will not only be affordable, but help the environment as well. According to its website, “SolarCraft has installed more systems than any other company in the Bay Area.” The company fits well into the region where its headquarters are based, as Marin County is known to be environmentally friendly. Whether the climate is too hot or too cold, the solar systems installed by SolarCraft are sure to please.
285-D Bel Marin Keys Blvd., Novato, 415/382-7717, solarcraft.com
BEST PLACE FOR HIKING
Does hiking in Marin get any better than at Mt. Tam? It’s hard to beat a wonderland of hills, redwood groves and more than 50 miles of trails that boasts breathtaking views of our gorgeous county, shimmering San Francisco and beyond. This 2,571-foot peak attracts everyone from those looking for a leisurely stroll or a picnic spot, to hardcore trekkers and campers. Visible from countless places in Marin, Mt. Tam is a constant reminder that it doesn’t take long to get to a place where you can completely lose yourself in nature and feel like you’re on top of the world.
Mount Tamalpais State Park, Mill Valley, parks.ca.gov
2ND Tennessee Valley, nps.gov
3RD Muir Beach, Highway 101, muirbeach.com
Located just 20 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Stinson Beach is an easy escape for city folk, as well as Marin locals. The beach is favorable for walking and surfing, and swimmers can be seen splashing on the warmest of days. Facilities include rest rooms, showers, picnic areas and BBQ grills, and a snack bar in the summer months keeps beach babes refreshed. If you look out for rip currents, “sneaker” waves and sharks, Stinson Beach can be relaxing and enjoyable for all ages.
Highway One, approximately 20 miles north of San Francisco, stinsonbeachonline.com
2ND Bolinas Beach, Bolinas
3RD Fort Cronkhite, Marin Headlands, Sausalito
BEST BIKE SHOP
Mike’s Bikes, founded in 1964 as one of Marin’s very first Schwinn shops, caters to every customer’s needs—whether it’s someone looking to get into cycling, or a seasoned pro. Mike’s strives to get as many people on bikes as possible, and when you walk into one of their 11 stores, you sense immediately that they know bikes backwards and forwards, love biking themselves and find joy in getting the community excited about cycling. “They buy bikes from us, their kids have bought bikes from us and their grandkids are gonna buy bikes from us,” says Richard Morrow, general manager, of loyal customers. “Our staff is biking in the community that we’re serving,” says Tom Casson, sales manager. “It’s nice for [our customers] to see that we ride, too. The products that they’re buying, we’re using, too.” Not only do they wave to customers on the roads and on the trails, but Mike’s Bike’s staff invites their neighbors along for the ride. You can find a beginner cruise to a coffee shop or a farmers’ market, or choose to log some serious miles. Mike’s also offers free weekly tech clinics that have become wildly popular, so you can count on the experts to help you keep your bike in tip-top shape.
834 Fourth St., San Rafael, 415/454-3747 and #1 Gate Rd., Sausalito, 415/332-3200, mikesbikes.com
2ND Fairfax Cyclery, Fairfax
3RD Tam Bikes, Mill Valley
BEST BUSINESS THAT PROMOTES GOING GREEN
With the goal of helping Marin reach zero waste, Marin Sanitary Service (MSS) has “going green” covered, from composting to recycling. “We invest in reaching out and educating students, businesses and apartment buildings in the community on what they can do to help improve their carbon footprint,” says Zoe Pearl, recycle program coordinator at Marin Sanitary Service (MSS). It’s a family-owned business that has been a county staple since 1948, thanks to founder Joe Garbarino. They have a partnership with the local sewage treatment plant to produce renewable energy that powers the plant itself. “The community is free to take tours of the facility,” the MSS team encourages, “to see how recycling actually works and where the garbage goes.” They even have pigs on the property to eat food scraps and reduce landfill.
Marin Sanitary Service
1050 Andersen Dr., San Rafael, 415/456-2601, marinsanitary.com
2ND Bellam Self Storage & Boxes, San Rafael
3RD Fairfax Lumber & Hardware, Fairfax
BEST ORGANIC PRODUCE
What is one of the main things that the Marin County Farmers’ Market is proud to announce? A permanent residence at the San Rafael Civic Center! The farmers’ market—managed by the Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM)—had a ballot measure pass with 81 percent of the vote this past November. Right now, there are seven farmers’ markets around the Bay Area that AIM manages—most with temporary leases, a day or two here or there. With more than 300 vendors to manage at any given market, it’s no surprise that Marin’s farmers’ markets are considered the premiere spots to grab your locally grown goods. “We are especially excited about the permanent farmers’ market project,” says Peter Healy, farmer’s market manager at AIM. “We’re about to launch a little more of the public phase of our capital campaign and get the community involved.”
Marin County Farmers’ Market (Agricultural Institute of Marin)
400 Smith Ranch Rd., San Rafael, 415/472-6100, agriculturalinstitue.com
2ND Good Earth Natural Foods, Fairfax
3RD Paradise Market, Corte Madera, Novato and Tiburon
BEST PERSONNEL AGENCY
Founded in San Rafael in 1970, Nelson Family of Companies is the largest independently owned staffing company in Northern California. Serving all types of businesses across the state out of more than 20 offices, Nelson offers four divisions that help place everyone from low-skill job-seekers to executives. “With the unemployment rate being at historical lows, we’re busier than ever helping out companies find quality candidates to help their business thrive,” says Debi Geller, business development manager. Nelson has a long history of working with companies in Marin, so Geller says that they have helped generations of local families find desirable jobs. “Our reputation is passed on,” she says. Doing their best to match job candidates with the right employer, Nelson thinks about things like work environments and the personalities of people. “When candidates come back and say, ‘I love my job; This is the best job I’ve ever had; I’m so happy,’” says Mary Ann Stich, business development manager, “That’s really rewarding.”
Nelson Family of Companies
18 Professional Center Pky., 2nd Floor, San Rafael, 415/479-5101, nelsonassociates.com
2ND Perfect Timing Personnel Services, Inc., Larkspur
3RD Marin Employment Connection, San Rafael
BEST PLACE TO BIKE
Saddle up your mountain (or road) bike and take it for a scenic ride through China Camp State Park, a gem nestled along the shore of the San Pablo Bay. Whether you ride on the paved road or climb up and down on the mountain paths, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the water. This is a place you can get a good workout and commune with nature at the same time, with lots of wildlife to keep you company, including deer, wild turkeys and squirrels. Glide through the forest full of trees and lush vegetation, either on the lower (flatter) path, or power your way up to higher ground and cruise the upper trail. You can really get away from it all at this magnificent park—right in the heart of San Rafael.
China Camp State Park
101 Peacock Gap Trail, San Rafael, 415/456-0766, www.parks.ca.gov
2ND West Marin
3RD Marin Headlands, Sausalito
BEST SOLAR SUPPLIER
Perhaps it’s no surprise that America’s largest solar power provider—Solar City— was voted Marin’s best. Revolutionizing the way energy is delivered by giving customers a cleaner, more affordable alternative to their monthly utility bill is certainly an award well-deserved. Founded in 2006, Solar City’s customers include tens of thousands of homeowners, more than 400 schools (including Stanford University), government agencies such as the U.S. Armed Forces and Department of Homeland Security, and corporate clients, including eBay, HP and Intel. Solar City is helping to keep Marin’s climate cleaner by offering $250 for every referral that joins.
161 Mitchell Blvd., Suite 104, San Rafael, 415/978-7652, solarcity.com
2ND Real Goods Solar (RGS), San Rafael
3RDSun First!, San Rafael
BEST RESALE/CONSIGNMENT CLOTHING SHOP
What sets apart the San Rafael location of Knimble Clothing & Knick Knack from its sister stores in Oakland and Cotati? “It’s the space,” says Rachel Shepherd, manager of the San Rafael location. “The owner, Amanda, was inspired—she had a vision and was inspired by the space.” The shop carries an eclectic variety of timeless pieces that everyone can relate to, with a mix of specialized items that are either all made in the U.S., fair-trade or eco-friendly. Take the clothes you’ve grown tired of and trade them in for a percentage of cash or for store credit. “You’re guaranteed to find something versatile and timeless that will inspire you,” Shepherd says.
Knimble Clothing & Knick Knack
851 Fourth St., San Rafael, 415/454-4009, knimble.com
2ND Stella’s Fine Consignments, San Anselmo
3RD Encore, San Rafael
BEST NURSERY/GARDEN CENTER
Sloat Garden Center, established in 1958, is an independently owned premier garden center, where you’ll find everything from fresh plants, to soils, to garden tools and pottery. Paradise for green-thumbs, the center has multiple locations throughout the Bay Area, and offers workshops and seminars featuring gardening experts and designers. Want to learn about growing fruit or pest control, or just need some advice? Check out Sloat’s Gardener’s Blog.
Sloat Garden Center
Multiple Marin locations, sloatgardens.com
2ND West End Nursery, San Rafael
3RD O’Donnell’s Fairfax Nursery, Fairfax