In 1852 the five Marshall brothers came from Ireland to Marin, where they founded the town that still bears their name. Though the family once owned land from Tomales Bay to Bodega, it was gradually sold off, piece by piece. Today, the thousand-acre “home ranch” is the last of those original properties. Today beef cattle and sheep graze on the rolling hillsides, and chickens cluck around the 150-year-old barn.
In this interview we talk with Gary Thornton and his daughter Marissa, who are the descendents of the Marshalls, about their struggle to keep the ranch in the family. Since Gary’s father passed away in 2001, the family has been dealing with massive inheritance taxes – a common problem that make it hard for ranchers to keep the family property. When Gary sold the development rights of the land to the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) in 2010, things got a bit easier. The family gets to keep their land, while the organization essentially pays them for the drop in property value that comes from limiting development potential and guaranteeing that they will keep the land in agriculture.
Gary and Marissa also talk about the amazing voyages the Marshall brothers took to get here, what life was like back when the San Francisco Bay Area was still a rugged frontier, and how Marissa plans to take the business over some day. Listen to the show by clicking the arrow below, or download the mp3 here.