Wednesday Farm Tour
Stop 1– Fuentes Berry Farm, Blackberries
18 acres of organic blackberries growing the Pajaro Valley near Watsonville, CA are managed by Roy Fuentes and his family. After graduating from the local high school he had plans to attend college and become a CPA. Didn’t work out, but he seems to be doing what he’s meant to do. With high-tunnels and multiple varieties he extends his season in both directions, harvesting 3,200-4000 trays of berries per acre — all organic. He partners with Riders (stop 3) and markets strawberries nationally through Driscoll Berries. Uses cover crops and has planted hedgerows to increase populations of beneficial insects. Roy never admitted it, but he makes organic blackberries look easy.
Stop 2 — Crystal Bay Farm, Organic veggies and agritourism
Jeff and Lori Fiorovich run Crystal Bay Farm, a 3.5 acre agritourism farm with on-site farm stand, u-pick berries and pumpkin patch, and host site for summer day camps for kids.
Jeff and Lori seem to love what they do and were not shy about sharing the challenges of running a small farm. The location is beautiful and the dogs were friendly.
Stop 3 –to be continued…
Riders Apple Farm is a really well run, organic apple farm and packing facility. Jim Rider showed us around the apple orchard, and described the management implementations of dwarf trees. No ladders means much less labor in pruning and harvesting. Makes sense. Jim also gave us a quick grafting demo. He made it look so easy.
Tom Rider talks about organic apples
Organic apple orchard with cover crop
Stop 4 — Tom and Constance Broz
Tom Broz, the surprise farmer
Thirteen years ago Tom attended an Eco Farm Conference farm tour, and stood on the land he now farms, having no idea that farming was in his future. Now he raises a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables that he markets through a 800 member CSA. He showed us an example of a typical weekly CSA box containing winter veggies off his farm, free-range eggs and a jar of preserved tomatoes. We walked the fields, nibbled on brussel sprouts. I spoke with the CSA’s education coordinator about the school tours and other events they sponsor to educate their members and the general community on the value of organic and local food.
Fava beans, a crop and a cover
The pear orchard that survived on the Broz farm
At all the farm tour stops I was struck by how segmented the land is, divided up in small parcels, each parcel farmed by different farmers, so that you have several farmers, farming in such close proximity to each other. Then it occurred to me that it’s really the same in Illinois, only on a larger scale. Instead of five to ten (or less) acre plots, we have 40, 80 or 120 acre fields. Conventional farmers plowing right up to the fence dividing his rented land from his organic neighbor.