Gary Marchi, a longtime Pescadero rancher who sold beef at farmers markets throughout the Bay Area, died last month in a traffic accident. He was 64.
Marchi ran his own company, Moon Meadow Beef, selling grass-fed beef at farmers markets spanning from Saratoga to Menlo Park along with Fremont and Pleasanton in the East Bay. He would personally make sales at the Mountain View Farmers Market on Saturdays, often building relationships with his frequent customers.
"He had a huge, generous heart and he loved people in Mountain View especially, it's the only market that he worked," said Patrick Andorfer, former co-owner of Seascape who worked for Marchi until his death on May 14.
Marchi was born and raised in Pescadero, where he lived his whole life. Though his father was a farmer who grew Brussels sprouts on the coast, he quickly found an affection for shorthorn cattle during his teenage years and wanted to be a rancher. He went on to win national accolades at a championship at the Cow Palace in Daly City, later shifting toward selling grass-fed beef.
Though ostensibly raising livestock to be sold as food, Marchi would always grow attached and show affection for his cattle, said Natalie Marchi-Sare, Marchi's sister.
"Every single calf, steer, heifer and bull was individually loved and taken care of," she said.
Andorfer, who sold the company's beef at the Menlo Park Farmers Market, said Marchi took on a relentless work schedule -- between 14 to 18 hours each day with no vacations -- and that the two of them would occasionally work all the way to 3 a.m. He didn't have a wife or kids, enabling the sort of laser-like focus on his job, but he would always take time to call friends and family every day.
"He was caring, he had compassion for people and he would check in on people," Andorfer said. "If he hadn't heard from me in a few days, I could pretty much expect a call. He was just that kind of person."
Where Marchi was a purist, Andorfer said, was in his strict adherence to feeding his cattle grass and aversion to using growth hormones. He had contempt for those who would circumvent the loose rules around labeling grass-fed beef by backfilling cattle diets with grain.
"If you ever wanted to get an earful, all you had to do was ask him about the proper way to raise steer," Andorfer said. "That used to torque his hide, because we did grass from start to finish."
In the lead-up to his death, Marchi-Sare said her brother was still coming up with new ways to do business, including tapping into the world of "agritourism." His plan was to serve up farm dinners on his property on the coast, and he had accumulated a collection of cookbooks intending to launch his new venture.
Over the past few weeks, Marchi-Sare has been scrambling to manage her brother's business, including 200 cows -- 40 of which reside on the coast -- and taking his place at the Mountain View Farmers Market. She said it hasn't been easy to fill his shoes, and it's obvious now how hard Marchi worked each day.
While Marchi-Sare has launched a GoFundMe page to pay for funeral expenses, she said she's hoping to offset the costs by selling seven steers. Anyone interested in buying anything from a quarter steer to a full steer to put in the freezer can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 650-276-8128.
A visitation for Marchi was held on May 29 in Santa Cruz. Mass and graveside services have been limited to less than a dozen family members in light of social distancing restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once the virus has subsided, Marchi-Sare said she's hoping to rally together friends and customers to his property overlooking the ocean for a big barbecue event, which she said should mirror the farm dinners her brother never got to do.