Farm to Paper to Open in Summerland
Two months after closing – and attempting to sell – her longtime Montecito stationery store, Letter Perfect, owner Leslie Person Ryan is prepping to open a new iteration of the shop, Farm to Paper, in downtown Summerland, just steps away from the small, open-air farm cart she operates on Lillie Avenue. The shop is located in the former home of Lillette, an interior design business.
Ryan says the new store is a culmination which unites her passions: curating stationery and gifts and showcasing all things related to organic farming. Ryan has been running Summerland Farm at the top of Temple Street for the last few years; last December the Santa Barbara Agriculture & Farm Education Foundation that she started was able to purchase the 6.84-acre parcel. Since then, Ryan and her crew have harvested organic melons, corn, wheat, oats, broccoli, herbs, tomatoes, lettuce, eggs, and much more. Bees are being brought to the farm this week, which will produce honey later this year.
The idea for the farm was born following the 1/9 Debris Flow in 2018 that essentially left Summerland residents without access to food for multiple days. “We are a certified food desert, with the nearest grocery store five miles away,” she said. If the freeway is shut down, like it was for two weeks following the debris flow, the only place for residents to buy food is from the liquor store or the gas station. Intent on offering organic, locally-sourced produce to Summerland residents, Ryan started her foray into organic farming in Orcutt before securing the Summerland farm space. She then offered the produce at the farm cart on Lillie Avenue and at Letter Perfect on Coast Village Road. The farm also feeds food insecure residents of Summerland, with volunteers delivering food boxes to 40-50 families in need every week. “Getting food to people is a lot of work. But we need to take care of people who are food fragile. We are making a difference by giving them food that is pure. We know where it comes from and we know how it’s grown,” she said, adding that many people in Summerland are medically or financially fragile, despite Summerland transforming into a chic hub for retail boutiques.
Farm to Paper will offer artisanal food stuffs from the local farm, including jams, marmalades, tomato sauce, tortillas, tortilla chips, salsas, simple syrups, and much more. There will also be an educational component at the shop, teaching people how to compost, mill wheat, and more, and she will be giving tours of the community-minded farm. The shop will also encompass the legacy of Letter Perfect, offering custom stationery orders, calligraphy, design services, classes, gifts, gift wrapping and cards, custom logos, and much more. Fresh flowers and bouquets will be available on the porch of the Craftsman-style building.
The quaint store has been updated with new flooring and displays, new awnings, new – edible – landscaping, and new paint. A patio will offer seating for customers to linger and enjoy a pastry, and access Wi-Fi. Ryan says art on the walls will rotate every other month, and she plans on having events with live music. “I envision the shop being a gathering space here in Summerland, as well as a place for people to learn about organic farming, and growing their own food,” Ryan said.
Farm to Paper is located at 2325 Lillie Avenue in Summerland. The shop is slated to open mid-June.
At the former home of Letter Perfect on Coast Village Road, the new owners of the Montecito Deli are planning on expanding into the space, offering a larger deli menu as well as an array of Italian grocery products. The deli is located at 1150 Coast Village Road and sold to the new owner – well-known Montecito and Santa Barbara restaurateur Gene Montesano – in April.