historic farm and eco-resort

the farm at the Stanford Inn Eco-Resort, Mendocino, CA
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History of the Stanford Inn Eco-Resort

A short review of the less obvious aspects of two decades of innkeeping. Steppin’ Out Magazine publisher Jeanne Francis asked us if we wanted to represent the “real” Mendocino for their “creative  landscapes.” issue. We agreed to be featured and the following article was published. We are re-publishing it here, because the story is about what has become most important to us at Stanford Inn Eco-Resort. - Jeff & Joan Stanford

Nurturing Energies At Mendocino Stanford Inn

“When we came here twenty-three years ago we had no idea the twists and turns our lives would take,” recounted Jeff Stanford who with his wife and partner, Joan, are owner-innkeepers of the Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino. “We had fallen in love with Mendocino as so many others,” Joan added, “but never expected to live here.”

The story of how they came to purchase Big River Lodge, now the Stanford Inn, is another story, however, their beginning was auspicious.

The sellers Art and Katherine Williams, who still live in the 1850s farmhouse in front of the inn, provided significant and decisive financial help.

The Stanfords started modestly moving into a 375 square foot guest room, doing most of the work themselves ­ from housekeeping to installing fireplaces. In just two years they had two children and were waking each morning to serve their guests breakfast

“We wanted to create something special and along the way the land began to influence us.” Jeff shares stories of experience with energy. “This is real stuff; not something I read about or sought out, but something experienced and then researched.”

“Transformation takes place here ­ physical, emotional and spiritual. While we were transforming the buildings and the landscaping, it was as if we had opened up a vein of co-creative potential. It is a manifesting process,” Joan explained. “We love living things and it seemed natural to solve landscaping problems with organic gardens.” Jeff and a close friend began digging double dug garden beds, following the work of John Jeavons. He urged those working in the gardens to become sensitive to the energies there.

Jeff is purposefully vague about working with earth energies. “I am not trying to make this mysterious. It isn’t,” he explains. “What I can tell you is how this ‘working’ manifests: When we adjusted the footprints of buildings we planned to build to save a Bishop pine, two smaller trees which were in the way of construction just fell down. There was no storm. It meant for us to go ahead.”

However, Jeff is not an ordinary environmentalist. He had mixed feelings regarding the creation of the new Big River State Park in spite of being involved in the effort. “It’s unfortunate that rather than insure healthy, sustainable logging practices, we are forced to remove land from forestry altogether to preserve it.” He argues that it is irresponsible to damage a forest’s biodiversity and over-log. “Taking land out of production here puts incredible pressure on other timber areas.”

Over the years, the Stanfords have worked to develop fulltime jobs rather than the part time jobs characteristic of a seasonal resort area. Catch A Canoe, the Inn’s canoe and kayak livery operated for only seven months of the year until Jeff added & Bicycles, too!, a bike shop, permitting the staff to become year around employees.

The creation of their California Certified Organic Farm created full time jobs and now supplies the Inn’s restaurant, The Ravens, the area’s only organic vegetarian/vegan restaurant, creating more jobs.

“We get a lot of people who come to work here because we are vegetarian, organic. They believe this is a Shangri La. It isn’t. It is hard work,” Jeff explained when asked why some people “don’t make it.” “When I began experiencing earth energies, I read a variety of books including Dorothy MacClean’s description of working with angels at Findhorn, Scotland. Our angels, if you want to call them that, are not etheric, they are hard workers: ‘buff,’ if you know what I mean. They’re tough and those who work with them need to be tough, too.

Staff often becomes part of the family and Jeff and Joan encourage them to develop interests and aptitudes and to finish school and go on to college. For years they have worked formally and informally with the schools. Joan works in the schools addressing issues of self esteem and peer counseling. The inn provides work experiences, training in everything from cooking to bike mechanics. Students have come to work to fulfill requirements for graduation or simply for money and some have stayed. One began working as a gardener when he was fifteen. Eventually, Jeff made him manager of the new & Bicycles, too! He helped grow the business, became an expert bike mechanic, and worked in the community to raise money for a skate park which unfortunately has yet to be constructed.

The Stanfords look at their operation as a garden or farm. They understand the energies they experience to be nurturing and they believe they must reciprocate by nurturing not only the gardens, but the people with whom they work and the community. They provide meeting rooms at no charge for local non profits and public agencies such as the school district; canoes for local schools’ recreational and educational programs; and their gardens for the local 4-H club where the kids learn propagation, planting, and composting from the staff.

Some teachers bring students who have difficulty in traditional schools to experience how the Stanfords work with nature with the idea that a return to nature is healthful.

This is life at the Stanford Inn.

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Big River 1 Bedroom Suite


Big River 1 Bedroom Suite at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $360-$440

Expansive and romantic – This original one bedroom suite sits in the middle of the Big River Building affording views sweeping over Big River Nurseries to Mendocino Bay and over Big River Estuary into the historic village of Mendocino … from a private deck. The bedroom has a king size bed and the living room a sofa bed. The fireplace is an Irish Waterford iron stove which provides the smell and crackling wood of an open fireplace in a rare uniquely designed unit. The suite also features a flat screen HDTV, DVD, compact stereo system, refrigerator, coffee maker supplied with organic, fair trade Big River Coffee and private deck. Complimentary organic breakfast served from our menu each morning.

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Big River Double Queen


Big River Double Queen Room at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $211 -$289

Distinctive Mendocino lodging – Accommodations with two queen size beds. Each offers a wood burning fireplace or Irish Waterford stove, views of our gardens and the ocean beyond, Flat Screen HDTVs, DVDs, compact stereo systems, refrigerators, coffee makers supplied with organic, fair trade Big River Coffee and private decks – overlooking Mendocino and the Pacific Ocean. Complimentary organic breakfast served from our menu each morning.

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Big River Executive King


Big River Executive King Room at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $221-$299

Bed Sitting Rooms – seating areas with sofas and king size beds. Each offers a wood burning fireplace, views of our gardens and the ocean beyond, Flat Screen HDTVs, DVDs, compact stereo systems, refrigerators, coffee makers supplied with organic, fair trade Big River Coffee and private decks – overlooking Mendocino and the Pacific Ocean. Complimentary organic breakfast served from our menu each morning.

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Big River Executive Queen


Big River Executive Queen Room at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $221 -$299

Bed Sitting Rooms with seating areas with sofas and queen size beds. Each offers a wood burning fireplace, views of our gardens and the ocean beyond, Flat Screen HDTVs, DVDs, compact stereo systems, refrigerators, coffee makers supplied with organic, fair trade Big River Coffee and private decks – overlooking Mendocino and the Pacific Ocean. Complimentary organic breakfast served from our menu each morning.

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Big River Garden Level


Big River Garden Level Room at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $211 -$289

Distinctive Mendocino lodging – Accommodations with a queen size bed and/or daybed on our garden level. Daybeds can provide twin bed comfort for up to two additional persons with a pop-up twins under each day bed. Each room offers a wood burning fireplace or Irish Waterford stove, views of our gardens and the ocean beyond, flat Screen HDTVs, DVDs, compact stereo systems, refrigerators, coffee makers supplied with organic, fair trade Big River Coffee and private decks – overlooking Mendocino and the Pacific Ocean. Complimentary organic breakfast served from our menu each morning.

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Big River Top Level with Daybed


Big River Queen with Daybed Room at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $211 -$289

Distinctive Mendocino lodging – Accommodations with a queen size bed and daybed. The daybed provides twin bed comfort for up to two additional persons with a pop-up twins under each day bed. Each room offers a wood burning fireplace or Irish Waterford stove, views of our gardens and the ocean beyond, flat Screen HDTVs, DVDs, compact stereo systems, refrigerators, coffee makers supplied with organic, fair trade Big River Coffee and private decks – overlooking Mendocino and the Pacific Ocean. Complimentary organic breakfast served from our menu each morning.

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Forest Executive


Forest Executive Room at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $245-$320

Simple elegance – Slightly larger rooms and baths distinguish these accommodations from those of Big River. Each one offers a large wood burning fireplaces, king size beds, wet bars, private decks that overlook Mendocino Bay and the village of Mendocino. The rooms also feature a flat screen HDTV, DVD, compact stereo system, refrigerator, coffee maker supplied with organic, fair trade Big River Coffee and private deck. Complimentary organic breakfast served from our menu each morning.

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Forest 1 Bedroom Suite


Forest 1 Bedroom Suite at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $312-$460

Ultimate Mendocino Romance – One bedroom suites offering large wood burning fireplaces; 27″ televisions with DVD; compact stereo systems; wet bars supplied with bottled water and juice drinks; coffee maker supplied with organic, fair trade Big River Coffee; a sofa bed; decks; Mendocino Bay and Mendocino village views. The bedroom has its own television and a king size bed. Complimentary organic breakfast served from our menu each morning.

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Forest 2 Bedroom Suite


Forest 2 Bedroom Suite at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $312-$460

Ultimate Mendocino Romance – One bedroom suites offering large wood burning fireplaces; 27″ televisions with DVD; compact stereo systems; wet bars supplied with bottled water and juice drinks; coffee maker supplied with organic, fair trade Big River Coffee; a sofa bed; decks; Mendocino Bay and Mendocino village views. The bedroom has its own television and a king size bed. Complimentary organic breakfast served from our menu each morning.

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Secluded Barn Suite


Barn Suite at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $315 – $390

Peaceful and private – Vaulted ceilings distinguish this large one bedroom suite, equipped with a king size bed and sofa bed in the bedroom and another in the living room. The living rooms fireplace is stocked with firewood, with just outside the door. There’s a kitchen with dining area, and a small yard and garden. The suite is within a barn which is also home to the Stanfords and Dan, a Morgan horse. Flat Screen HD Televisions, DVD, Stereos, and more amenities.

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Garret Suite


Garret Suite at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $239 – $279

A two-story suite with exceptional views – One bedroom suite with kitchen facilities in a 1930’s cottage located just south of Big River Bridge and overlooking the Llamas, organic gardens, Big River estuary and Catch A Canoe. Bedroom has a queen bed and living room a sofa bed. This suite has a deck and a wood burning Buck Stove.

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Canoe Suite


Canoe Suite at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $259 – $299

A magical cottage with Big River views – One bedroom suite with kitchen facilities in a 1930’s cottage located just south of Big River Bridge and overlooking the Big River estuary and Catch A Canoe. The bedroom has a queen bed and living room a sofa bed. This Mendocino suite has a deck and a wood burning brick Heatilator fireplace. HD Flat Screen TV, DVD/VCR, stereo systems and more.

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Big River Petite Queen


Big River Petite Queen Room at the Stanford Inn by the sea, Mendocino, CA

Room Rates $211 -$269

Distinctive Mendocino lodging – Accommodations with queen size beds on the lower and upper floors of the inn. Each offers a wood burning fireplace, views of our gardens and the ocean beyond, Flat Screen HDTVs, DVDs, compact stereo systems, refrigerators, coffee makers supplied with organic, fair trade Big River Coffee and private decks – overlooking Mendocino and the Pacific Ocean. Complimentary organic breakfast served from our menu each morning.

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