News & Photos

April 11, 2017

April showers are continuing so we are trying to find any openings between them to get into the ground to plant. So far we have had three big plant outs of lettuce, fennel, radicchio, cilantro, dill and spinach. In addition all the tomatoes and some of the peppers and onions have been planted and are starting to grow.
 
We have also done a single planting of parsley, carrots, basil, dahlia tubers and snapdragons, with more to follow. We are a little late planting potatoes due to shipping delays from our supplier but those should be arriving soon and the planting will happen within the next couple weeks.
 
The good news is we are officially done with the drought. The last three seasons were a guessing game as to whether we would make it through the season with enough water. That is not a problem this year. It’s always good to conserve and our practices during the drought have taught us to manage things better and be more frugal in how we use water in our fields.
 
One of the added benefits of using more drip tape irrigation is that there are less weeds, which are always a labor concern for us organic farmers who stay away from herbicides for weed control.
 
Once we actually have to start regular irrigation (probably not until May), it will be with a sharp eye for what really needs it and what doesn’t. Our tomatoes will not be irrigated as usual as we dry farm them and the orchards will only need minimal added water.
 
Speaking of orchards, the fruit set on the trees is still looking good. The task at hand is now to keep the deer out so that there is fruit for the humans 🙂… Read the rest

March 28, 2017

Welcome to Spring! It has been a long and wet winter. It is still wet with a lot of seeps and springs flowing here and there but the sun is peaking out and temperatures are rising. 

In the orchard, the plums have all but finished blooming, with white petals littering the ground like a dusting of snow. The apples and pears are just emerging while the early ripening varieties are at their peak bloom.

In the fields, there is rapid growth of the cover crops with blossoms of Phacelia, Crimson Clover and Purple Vetch popping out. The wild bees, the honey bees and the beneficial insects are loving it. 

As soon as the soil is dry enough we can begin mowing and discing the cover crops under. Up until now there has only been a few choice areas that are drained enough to open up for planting new crops. 

We have noticed some summer weeds like amaranth and purslane starting to germinate in these areas. This is a sign that it’s time to get the summer crops going, but also it means that we have to begin cultivating and hoeing in areas that we have already planted to knock back the weeds. Otherwise those weeds can swallow you up if you are only concentrating on planting. 

As  we spring forward, remember this..The future is unwritten…  … Read the rest

February 14, 2017

It’s actually surprising that we are still pulling out a fair variety of crops for our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes considering the deluges we’ve experienced. The soils have been extremely soggy, such that no more water can really soak in from additional rainfall and the water is just running off. It will take about a week, at least, until we can get into the ground again to prep more land for additional early spring planting. With more rain forecast for Wednesday night, it’s unlikely the ground will be workable before that.
 
Patience is something we have to practice. We are feeling restless and the greenhouses are bulging with transplants ready to go, but yes, patience, patience, patience must be practiced. Two weeks ago we did get a good round of dandelions, radicchio and Brassica transplants put into the soil and even some direct seeded crops like carrots and Asian greens.
 
So far the only land we have available for spring plantings are those areas left unplanted in the late fall. None of the areas that we have cover cropped over the winter have been worked in yet because they are, in addition to providing free nutrients and sequestering carbon, they are also providing invaluable erosion control for such a wet winter.

Normally by mid-February we are starting to mow and disc under cover crops, but that seems very unwise at this time as there is more rain to come and with that more potential for soil loss. Soil is not something easy to come by so we try very hard preserve the healthy soils we have and that we work so hard to build up year after year.… Read the rest

January 31, 2017

There is a good chance of getting some plants into the ground this week so our crew has been busy preparing the ground. Cool nights and sunny days have allowed the ground to dry out a bit. A few choice spots are ready to open up, but there are still some places with standing water and some even have areas where the water is seeping to the surface. Those areas won’t be tillable for awhile.
 
We are moving ahead with transplanting this week in anticipation of more rain starting tomorrow. Elsewhere on the farm, the pruning crew is moving through the orchards, cutting and shaping the stone fruit, apples and citrus tree branches. We usually leave the persimmons until last to prune as they don’t start pushing out new growth until March. 
 
Speaking of coming rain, we have received 40 inches so far at the Ocean St. Extension farm, which is way over our normal annual amount. For a couple days the San Lorenzo River reached heights we haven’t seen in 20 years. It’s very good that this is happening. Even with the flooding, mudslides and inconvenience, it has brought our water supply levels way up and water shortage issues have become a lot less critical.
 
Our crop planning for 2017 has come together quite nicely. Based on conversations with retailers, wholesalers and our direct markets we are gearing up for a great year. We will try to do more to reach out to our local communities to tell our story and share issues that are important to us as they relate to food and farming.
 
The most important thing right now is for folks to realize that the impact of eating good and healthy food close to its’ source is of great importance. It is the one thing that everyone can do to have a noticeable effect on health and in supporting how and where food is produced. Voting with your food dollars and actively putting yourselves directly into the food system is a big part of it!… Read the rest

December 6, 2016

There seems to be a real winter happening this year. Since the beginning of October, we have measured 13 inches of rain at both the Rancho del Oso farm and the Ocean St. Extension farm. It seems like forever since we’ve had this much weather this early into the fall/winter season. 
 
Although the majority of our land is now cover cropped for the winter, we do have a fair amount of winter crops in the ground. Growing crops for a winter harvest takes some planning. Crop growth slows considerably once the ground cools off so the crops that haven’t reached at least the adolescent stage will likely be in dormant mode until the days start getting longer and warmer again.
 
There’s also the risk of young crops bolting prematurely once day lengths get longer so it’s important to time fall plantings accordingly. We usually avoid planting or transplanting from mid-November through December but will begin new plantings again as weather permits in mid- January.
 
I would like to take the opportunity to give thanks to all of our direct purchase customers throughout the year. Having a direct connection between our farm and local consumers of the food we produce gives us great joy and great appreciation that we live in such an informed and actively supportive community. Knowing we are surrounded by people who realize the importance and benefits of a vibrant local agriculture is truly heartening. Thank you so much and we will see you in the New Year!… Read the rest

November 22, 2016

The colors on the farm are changing as the leaves are turning orange and yellow. There is also a lot of green in the fields and hillsides from all the early rains. We are hoping that the rains continue. Our crew is busy gathering all the irrigation pipes out of the field and pulling up drip irrigation lines. It’s a great feeling not to have to irrigate anymore.
 
We hope that everyone is coming to grips with the outcome of the elections and are getting ready for the challenges ahead, keeping an eye on the future with both feet on the ground. You can be reassured that we will keep moving forward no matter what happens and keep our focus on sustainable agriculture even if the prevailing politics aren’t supportive. 
 
Farmers are generally fiercely independent folk that can survive and adapt to the fickle winds of change. We of course prefer good change and do not want to be going backwards or to undo the progress we have made in developing a more ecological agriculture as well as a renewable energy future. Our motivation to move forward will not change. Our goals have always been and will continue to be healthy soils, healthy workers, and a healthy community.
 
BTW stay tuned for something energy related that is coming to the Central Coast soon that will really increase our independence!… Read the rest

November 8, 2016

The hills are turning green already from all the rain we’ve had. We have registered over 11 inches of rain in October alone at both our Ocean St. Extension and Rancho del Oso farms, so we are very happy! On top of that, the weather is like June in November so things are growing again, including all the cover crops we sowed before the rains came. The ground has not cooled off too much so there’s even a lot of volunteer beans and squash starting to sprout here and there.
 
As we prepare for, uh, winter it’s time to start pruning trees. We start with the citrus and avocado trees that we prune for shape, sunlight and deadwood. Next we do the harder pruning of the deciduous trees. It is also a good time to do early winter fertilizing so the rains can soak the fertilizer in around the root zones of the trees. 
 
At some point, we are hoping to get some cold weather which has been lacking the last few winters. Some fruit trees need the chill in order to set fruit, namely peaches and apricots, which is why we don’t get very strong and predictable crops on those two fruit. 
 
As far as row crops go, we are planning to keep lettuce, kale, chard, parsley, beets, cabbage and cilantro going all winter long if conditions permit. It’s always a crap shoot through the months of January and February, depending on temperatures and rainfall. This year we planted and harvested a good amount of winter squash to eat and sell through out the winter months.
 
It’s the time of year to look through seed catalogues and to start thinking about next years’ crop plan. We are thinking of adding some new dahlia varieties and colors and boy are the pictures fun to look at! It’s hard to pick ones out when there are hundreds and hundreds of color combinations. We will do the dirty work of looking at beautiful flowers though and picking out some of the most striking ones!… Read the rest

October 25, 2016

Here comes the rain again and we are scrambling to get all the winter storage crops under cover, disc under old crops, and transplant some winter kale, broccoli and lettuce aaaaand sow cover crops of clover, vetch, mustard and our favorite, Phacelia. Phew! If only there were more daylight hours instead of less…just kidding 🙂
 
Once things slow down (likely after Thanksgiving) there will be time to reflect and start crop planning for next year.  
  
We really appreciate all our customers and supporters that keep us going. We try to manifest a shared vision of what sustainable agriculture should be. As farmers, our job is to produce food, fiber and in the case of flowers…food for the soul. 
 
Our efforts require putting in place conditions in the soil for the magic of photosynthesis to do the job of harvesting sunlight and converting it into complex sugars and nutrients. It feels like magic when it works well but it can also be baffling when it doesn’t. Knowing that people appreciate our efforts is huge so thanks again!… Read the rest

October 11, 2016

A definite change in the seasons is upon us. The first soaking rain is approaching so we are scrambling to get the rest of the potatoes, dry onions and dry beans under cover. We are also hoping to take advantage of the free water to plant cover crop on the sloped fields and even do some winter crop transplanting and seed sowing. We are beyond ready for the rain. It will be much more pleasant getting around the farm as the farm roads have gotten very dry and dusty.

This late summer season has been pretty good as far as crops go. September got off to a cool start but the heat came on late in the month and brought a lot of crops on that had been lagging. We even got some watermelons to ripen nicely due to some very hot days.  The vines on the winter squash are dying back and we have great yields on red and green Kabocha and Delicata winter squashes. We are on the verge of some late season Italian pole beans coming into harvest as well.

Unfortunately the tree squirrel overpopulation locally has decimated our chestnut crop. We were really anxious for them as the crop looked pretty good following last year’s drought-induced shortage.  Not sure what we can do about the squirrels as their numbers have become overwhelming.  It’s not something we have seen before in our orchards. You win some, you lose some.  Luckily our diverse crops keep us going.  The persimmon crop looks good and are coming on quickly.  Let’s hope the squirrels don’t take a liking to them too 🙂… Read the rest

September 27, 2016

It’s autumn already but with this heat you would think it’s mid-summer. We had the hottest day of the year on Monday with some triple digit readings including on our Ocean St Extension farm. Our thoughts are now with those who live up in the Loma Prieta area who are dealing with the wildfire that started yesterday afternoon.  We are hoping that everyone stays safe and that the fire is put out soon!

On Sunday it was around 96° out on the farm for our last farm dinner of the year, with over a hundred guests attending. The shade was provided by chestnut trees that kept things comfortable enough along with the great food creations of Kendra Baker and her team from Assembly and the amazing wines from Denis Hoey’s of Odonata Wines.

During the reception and tour, Louise Jackson, a researcher from UC Davis shared some of the results and insights of her trials of organic dry-farmed tomato patches done in different parts of California. It is eye-opening and encouraging to get some actual science behind the different growing methods and practices on farms such as ours, who are committed to using sustainable organic practices and diverse cropping systems. Walking from the reception area to the orchard put us out in direct sun for a bit, so we tried to keep the tour concise due to the heat but there always seems to be more to say.

The evening temperatures cooled somewhat and made dining under the chestnut tree very magical. We are so lucky to have all the great people, great conversations and sensuous food and drink all put together outdoors on the farm…it doesn’t get much better!

We are shifting into fall mode now: digging lots of potatoes, onions and beets. The lack of fog is welcome as that last bout we had created quite a bit of mildew on the leafy crops we grow. That’s not a problem now as we are looking at year to date high temperatures and with the cooler nights coming there will be less humidity as well.… Read the rest