Sebastopol has a rich history and a delightfully creative and green spirit.

Patrick Amiot - folk art

Geographical Area

A little over an hour north of San Francisco, and a little less than an hour west of Napa, Sebastopol is a charming community of 8,000 nestled in the wine country of western Sonoma County. For those who’d like to visit three Cittaslow cities together, Sebastopol is within an hour’s drive of both Fairfax and Sonoma, and is an easy 30 minutes from the breathtaking coast of northern California.

We are a nuclear-free zone with a whimsical, creative spirit; rich agricultural traditions; and a long-standing appreciation of the beautiful rolling hills and wetlands that border our historic California redwood forests.

Sebastopol Farmers Market

Sustainable Agriculture

Slow Food Russian River – We have a very active chapter with ongoing workshops and a lively Facebook community.
Save the Gravensteins – A local coalition working to support area apple farmers and preserve our historic tie to this special variety, which is uniquely suited to the Sebastopol microclimate.
Numerous organic farms – many of which offer CSA programs (community supported agriculture) offering subscriptions for a weekly delivery of a box of locally grown produce.
iGrow Sonoma County – Many Sebastopolians participate in the annual garden challenge to add 365 new home vegetable gardens each year.
Sebastopol Farmers’ Market – Where locals gather each Sunday to enjoy music, produce, smoked meats, crafts, and artisan cheeses and breads.

Ives Pool Solart Panels - Photo by Marty Roberts

Sustainable Environmental Policies

Through the efforts of Solar Sebastopol, our small village has made it top priority to convert public buildings, and as many private structures as possible, to solar energy. Among others, there are solar panels installed on our

  • Police Station
  • High School
  • Local community pool at Ives Park
  • Dragon solar panel sculpture at the southern entry to town

Sonoma County has one of the highest usage rates of solar energy in the state, in no small part because of the efforts of Solar Sebastopol.

Sebastopol is participating in the “Sonoma County Electric Trail” campaign which seeks to encourage the use of electric vehicles by providing charging stations in locations convenient for visitors and residents.

Sebastopol also has an aggressive water conservation policy and minimum green requirements for new construction within the city limits.

iWalk Sebastopol

Community Spirit

Sebastopol Walks – Once a month a member of the community leads a daytime or evening walk from downtown. One walk may focus on the social and cultural history of Sebastopol, another on the great variety of trees, a third may include a tour of parks in our village.
Ceres Community Project – This Sebastopol gem teaches area teens how to prepare meals from organically grown food, which they then distribute to members of the community who are coping with serious, life-limiting illness.
Science Buzz Cafe – Based on the concept of the Penny University, professional scientists and community members offer weekly presentations to all comers on topics ranging from DNA to the cosmos and everything in between.
Redwood Rainbows – is Sonoma County’s gay, lesbian and straight square dance club with classes offered at all levels in this American traditional dance form.
Ignite Sebastopol! – Sponsored by a locally based leader in technology publications (owned by Tim O’Reilly, the man who coined the term “Web 2.0”), this is our local version of TED.com. Ignite Sebastopol! is a semi-annual event that allows community members an opportunity to share an idea or hobby they feel passionate about.
The CORE Project – A group of dedicated community citizens created an international competition inviting architects and urban planners from around the world to submit designs to help Sebastopol address some of its current challenges (e.g., traffic) and emphasize its many strengths. They received 24 submissions from entrants as far away as Thailand and Argentina. The Core Project has been using these designs to distill themes which could be used as a basis for the city’s General Plan.

Cittaslow Sebastopol

Sebastopol is a Slow City

In 2010, Sebastopol applied for and received designation as a “Slow City,” joining what is now nearly 200 small towns throughout the world that are committed to staying green, local, friend and artistic.

The “Cittaslow” movement is based in Italy. (“Citta” is “City” in Italian). Sebastopol’s designation is managed locally by Cittaslow Sebastopol, a non-profit, ad hoc committee of the City of Sebastopol. This grassroots organization sponsors many activities in Sebastopol that are designed to uphold the 6 priorities of a Slow City:

  1. Support locally made products and agriculture
  2. Celebrate local culture and history
  3. Welcome visitors and embrace neighbors
  4. Integrate technology for improved well-being
  5. Protect the health of the environment
  6. Develop community-friendly infrastructure (walkways, bike paths, open space, parks and gathering places).

This website (Experience Sebastopol) was created by the volunteers of Cittaslow Sebastopol, and by Plan/A Design.

The Slow Foods Russian River Convivium includes the town of Sebastopol. This is a lively chapter with frequent workshops and a popular and engaging Facebook community.

An important project of Slow Foods Russian River is the Save the Gravensteins movement. This sweet-tart variety of apple is uniquely suited to the Sebastopol climate, but is endangered due to a number of factors. Many of the apple farmers cultivate land that has been growing apples for free fonts download over a century. The Gravenstein Apple Presidia (the first Presidia in California, and one of only six U.S. Presidia projects) works to support the dozen remaining commercial growers and the two commercial apple processors that still operate in the Sebastopol area.

History and Culture

Western Sonoma County Historical Society
Native peoples: The traditions of our region begin with the first nation Miwok and Pomo tribes. The latter were known worldwide for their amazingly intricate basketry, and appear to have had up to 11 encampments alongside the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

Early 1800’s: The next wave of immigrants to arrive at the Laguna comprised settlers from Mexico. The area was carved up into land grants which were eventually sold off to U.S. Citizens of European descent. As the population of California swelled with the Gold Rush of 1849, Sebastopol became a town with its own post office in 1850, serving as a trading center for area farmers.

Fort Ross State Park
Our Russian heritage: The name Sebastopol (Seh-BASS-toh-pohl) comes from the Russian seaport of Sevastopol, which was then under siege by the British during the Crimean War. The area had strong ties to Russia due to the Russian colony at Fort Ross, which still stands today, located to the north and west of Sebastopol, on the California coast.

Other immigrants: The early part of the 20th century saw many waves of immigrants from Italy, Portugal, China and Japan. In fact, Sebastopol boasts an authentic Buddhist Temple, the Enmanji Temple built in the 1930’s and transplanted to our town by the local Japanese community.

Save the Gravenstein Apple
Our agricultural roots: Sebastopol has long been known for the fertility of its soil. Early crops included cherries, apples and hops. The remains of old hop drying ovens can be seen on many hillsides and orchards. By the 1940’s, apples took the lead as the primary crop, most notably the Gravenstein apple. With the growth of the wine industry in nearby Napa County, many apple orchards have been replaced by vineyards. Grapes and dairies are now the primary agricultural focus of our town.
Luther Burbank Experiment Farm
Noted botanist, Luther Burbank. In 1885, Luther Burbank purchased 18 acres in Sebastopol, which he made into his Gold Ridge Experimental Farm. Here he conducted most of his experiments with grafting and hybridized plants. Luther Burbank is most famous for his development of the Santa Rosa plum and the Shasta Daisy. Three acres of his farm are still intact, with the cottage and outbuildings fully restored. Visitors are welcome at the farm and can walk through self-guided trails that lead to 200 of his original plantings.

The impact of the railroad: In the early 1900’s, the train was significant part of our development as an agricultural center. Although the trains no longer run, the depot and support buildings have been restored and converted into offices, a museum and a lively tavern. The old railway routes have been paved over to become world- renowned bike and walking trails that stretch from Santa Rosa to Forestville.Back to top