Back to the land 
Petaluma’s Douglas Gayeton left a film career to return to his family’s agrarian roots

Douglas Gayeton of Petaluma has been rushing around the country for the past few months, promoting his new book, Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town (Welcome Books, 2009), a collection of essays and sepia-toned images of the faces and foods of Pistoia, Italy.

On a rainy evening in November, the writer/photographer is happy to be back at his Petaluma farm, where he is reconnecting with his 3-year-old daughter, Tuilerie, and his wife, Laura Howard.

I like getting up in the morning with our daughter, he said. We go up to the chicken coop and get eggs.

Since moving to Petaluma five years ago, the couple has reconnected to their agrarian roots, raising goats and launching their own boutique food business, Laloos Goat Milk Ice Cream.

Before they met in Italy, Gayeton and Howard had high-powered careers in the film business in L.A., where they spent most of their time in the synthetic world of freeways. Now, their morning commute consists of walking up the driveway from their home to their offices with a cup of coffee.

For me, it was really important to do something other than be in an office all day, Howard said. Its so nice to come out and lift the hay for the horses and smell the air.

Like many other foodies headed back to the land, the couple in their 40s have come full circle, returning to their grandparents agrarian roots.

Im of a generation that has lost this cultural continuity, Gayeton said. Were trying to re-create it.

A self-described Navy brat raised on the East Coast, Howard spent every summer at her grandparents farm in West Virginia, bordered by woods and a stream. After graduating from Miami University with a degree in design and marketing, she worked as an advertising executive and a film producer in Hollywood.

Gayeton grew up in Lucas Valley in Marin County and spent every summer in Santander, Spain, a few miles from his mothers ancestral home. He spent Sundays slurping pasta with his Italian grandparents, who owned a vineyard in Santa Rosa.