Meet Your Neighbor – Seth Schmerzler |

Meet Your Neighbor – Seth Schmerzler

How long I’ve lived in Nevada County: Five years.

Do I like living here? It’s beautiful, with beautiful people. I live a little far out of town, but it’s the best. Even standing in line at the grocery store, you talk with nice people.

What I do in my spare time: I grow hydroponic vegetables, mostly lettuce.

My family: I live with my two dogs, Bitey and Freckles; my cat, Kitty Cat; and eight peacocks. I always wanted peacocks. They’re a little bit of a hassle but they’re so beautiful. They sleep in trees at night and then come down during the day. They have very interesting personalities. I feed them dog food.

Favorite food: Anything or everything that’s healthy.

Job: I’m a former educational anthropologist. I used to work overseas with primitive tribes in transition. Now, I grow about 800 to 900 full sized heads of lettuce a week. It used to be a hobby to grow vegetables hydroponically, but then I perfected it here. I do it as organically as it can be done. It’s at the very cutting edge of agriculture.

What I like about my job: I’m outside interacting with nature. It’s beautiful.

What would I change about my job: That’s a tough one. Every day’s a holiday, that’s why I’m doing it.

The best job I ever had: Working in the jungle overseas with the natives. It’s what I did for years and years. I speak Tongan. It’s my doctoral language.

If I won a million dollars: I’d buy a refrigerator that makes ice and water in the door and spend the heck out it.

My favorite vacation: Every day is a vacation here on the farm.

My dream vacation: I’d go back to Tahiti.

My greatest accomplishment: I’ve been a licensed officer in the Merchant Marines for 25 years. I’m a captain, and I served in the Peace Corps.

What I’d change about the world: Peace and love. It’s perfect for this area.

The most important lesson I’ve learned: Shut up, and I’m glad I learned it.

The person who has made the biggest difference in my life: Raymond Dasmann, a professor emeritus of environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, who died in 2002. He is the father of ecodevelopment, my mentor throughout the UC system.

The best book I’ve read recently: A book about how to prune trees. I would recommend that everybody read the “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. They should remember what it is like. Only when you have a full stomach can you worry about what you’re eating.

Favorite TV Show: No.

My personal theme song: I don’t have a theme song, but I like Neil Young and old rock ‘n’ roll.

A movie I’d recommend: “City of God.”

What you should know about me: I’m a nice neighbor and I appreciate the nice people here.

Why you, or your ancestors, come to this area: I had friends who lived here. I came to visit and found it was such a great spot. When I came, it was electric green in May. I found this piece of property; that was before land prices got so high. There’s no way I could afford it now.


Who are your neighbors? If you know of a western Nevada County resident to be spotlighted in this feature, contact Becky Trout at or 477-4234.

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