News & Photos

May 23, 2017

Our fields are covered in green! The plants are growing nicely and reaching for the increasing sunlight as the days are getting noticeably longer. The grasses, mostly annual and non-native species, are still green but will be turning brown over the next few weeks. There is evidence of abundant water everywhere still. The amount of growth happening is amazing and it’s not just on the farm but in the surrounding landscape of trees, bushes and vines too.
 
The dry farmed tomatoes are looking as if they are being irrigated but, of course, they aren’t. They are setting fruit as the nighttime temperatures are now remaining above 50°.

It is time to start staking the cherry tomatoes as they are vining out quickly. We are getting a late start in planting winter squash but there’s plenty of summer left for them to grow, ripen and come into harvest.
 
Right now our time is being spent keeping up on weed control, irrigating, transplanting and harvesting the ever increasing variety of crops that are in the ground.
 
We are looking forward to getting the Summer CSA started on Tuesday, May 30th. We are also very excited to work with the amazingly talented chefs we have lined up for our three farm dinners this summer. By the way, there’s still room at the table for the June and August dinners if you’d like to attend. You can find more information on our website under the Farm Dinners tab. Join us if you can!… Read the rest

May 9, 2017

After a brief hot spell last week we are now having a cool start to May. The cool weather crops like lettuce, spinach, kale and such, are enjoying it but the warm weather loving crops will have to be patient to get what they really want. We continue to open up new ground and plant as if summer were imminent. 
 
This week it’s more peppers, eggplant, squash and the usual succession of seasonal and year round items. Our seed potato order finally showed up so we are dropping those into the ground too. Varieties this year include Yellow Finn, Purple Viking, Austrian Crescents, Pink Pearl, German Butterball and Vicasso (a new multi-colored spud).
 
Upcoming projects on the farm include hacking back encroaching perimeter tree growth into our deer fencing and mending said fences where fallen trees have damaged it. There seems to be a lot of trees falling in our surrounding woods, due likely to abundant growth from all our rain this past winter. We believe the rainy season is done so we are looking forward to about 6 months of no rain, which is normal for these parts in a ‘typical’ year.
 
Besides all the crops we grow, we believe that limiting our carbon footprint is just as important. IN addition to harvesting the suns energy by growing crop plants, our 15 kWh rooftop solar photovoltaic’s electrical plant has saved over 300,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. This offsets a lot of our carbon use from delivery trucks and tractors, which although burn mostly biodiesel do contribute to carbon emissions.
 
We are continuously looking at our non-renewable outputs and trying to figure out a way to minimize or all together eliminate waste that goes into landfill or utilizes from non-renewable resources.… Read the rest

April 25, 2017

The verdict is in, no more rain is needed. I know it sounds weird to say that after so much drought but, after upwards of 70″ this season, it’s okay for the rain to stop now 🙂 The soil is still a little mucky a couple of inches down in many places.

We are starting to whittle away at the backlog of transplants in our greenhouse, transplanting in the drier patches here, there and everywhere. Warmer weather is fast approaching and it’s time to get going working the ground.

The time for planting squashes, beans, eggplant and all those other summer delights is here! The good news is we’ve already transplanted all 8 varieties of peppers in our driest areas, so no worries there.

Checking on the tomatoes that we put out in early March, it looks like they are growing vigorously and are starting to vine out. It won’t be long until they will need staking. I am also very happy to see the newly acquired Dahlia varieties sprouting up…I can’t wait!

Once we get all the cover crop mowed and incorporated, the big decision will be just how much to plant and whether to keep some land always fallowed or to put in a summer cover crop.

This is something that is new. The ongoing dilemma now being how many field workers we can find to help us for the growing season. Our regular core crew of 15 can do amazing things but more are needed if all 55 acres are going to be utilized to the fullest.

Hmmm, summer cover crops? It’s going to be an interesting year.… Read the rest

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