News & Photos

February 27, 2018

It’s almost March or as we were saying in the first part of this month “Juneuary” as the temperatures more reflected a bit of summertime.  This is our new reality, I suppose. Some of the plum trees have already popped into bloom which is making us ramp up our pruning schedules. We also have completed our first transplant of the new growing season with some early kale, lettuce and parsley, while still allowing the cover crops on the rest of the land to do their thing a little longer. We did actually put in a strawberry patch of our own (first time in over 20 years), which we are very excited to use in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. The greenhouses are filled to capacity with lettuces and other greens, while tomatoes, basil, peppers, squash and eggplant sowings are growing up nicely in time for transplant in March/April. Our cropping and marketing plans are being fine-tuned at this time.

Our efforts to provide fruit and vegetables to the local community go back to the beginning of the organic farming movement that began to take shape in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. At that time, the first certified farmers market in Santa Cruz County was organized and opened in 1979 at the Live Oak Elementary School at Capitola Rd. and 17th Ave. This provided a platform for direct marketing for my first crops. Shortly after that in 1981, four other people and I started growing on some abandoned fields on Ocean St. Extension, which had historically been called the “Italian Gardens”.

This proved to be an ideal spot to experiment with great soil, a great climate and very nearby markets for the food being produced. By 1988, I was the only farmer left on Ocean St. Extension and looking to scale up in order stay competitive with the new and larger operations that were popping up, or with the existing larger operations converting from conventional farming to organic. I found a partner and more land on the North Coast and we continued to grow until we had about 150 acres in four locations under cultivation.

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December 5, 2017

You’ve probably been wondering why you haven’t seen our eNewsletter in a few months. I am truly sorry that it’s been so long since the last edition. The last few months have been filled with so many things; things both close to home but also things in the greater world. I am not sure where to start because indeed sometimes just saying nothing works best. Listening to nature could hold some truth though. I’ve always felt there is wisdom in the silence of the Earth. It knows all and it doesn’t need us but we, for sure, do need IT.
Maybe we can start at the end, since this is the end of the year cycle and our last CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box of the season, a time when we can assess and look back and see what we have done and what we have learned, and where we are going. Trying to see where we are going through the fog can be confusing these days. After all, when deciphering what’s real or fake is now a daily requirement for us. What can we do to keep it real? Taking some quiet time doesn’t mean we haven’t wanted to communicate about the goings on in the fields and beyond.                                                                                                                                                      

The changing economic and ecologic landscape of agriculture here on the Central Coast has been nothing short of monumental. Change is essential and I accept it as a matter of course. Balancing all the variables that go into farming in a way that makes the end result a success is a challenge we have accepted. But acceptance of reality doesn’t mean complacency. We have and will continue to speak out about trends that are destructive and not based in reality. The ongoing shortage of labor is real and will likely continue so we have to compensate for that for sure. Since working harder is not a good option, it’s time to work smarter not harder. Trying harder to be smarter may be the 2018 motto. Developing a crop plan that meets the demands of our supporters is our priority now that we’re into mid-December.  We think we have a pretty good idea but there’s always a little guess work involved.… Read the rest

New Downtown Farmers Market Hours Beginning November 8, 2017

The Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market changes it’s closing time once Daylight Savings Time hits in the fall each year. Beginning Wednesday, November 8th the Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market operating hours will change to 1pm-5pm (in the past it has been 1:30-5:30).

Spring/summer hours for 2018, which begin on April 4th, will run 1pm-6pm.

We hope you are able to enjoy these earlier hours at the market.… Read the rest

August 23, 2017

The days are getting noticeably shorter. It’s actually kind of dark when our field crew starts at 6 a.m. After their 15 minute stretching routine it gets a little lighter but that should diminish further and we will soon have to delay their morning start time.
The harvest list is growing to include eggplant, multi-colored bell and hot peppers, Gala, McIntosh and Rubenstar apples. We are looking forward to the change in the late summer weather which usually means a switch from foggy to crisp clear mornings. 
September is generally dry and cooler but these last few days of August have brought some very moist but warm days which some of us growers call “mildew weather” due to increased instances of downy mildew and other molds which thrive in all day fog. 
Basil has been a challenge for us lately with the mildew hitting and missing patches depending on where the plants are located. As of yet there are no downy mildew resistant Italian basil varieties out there, though the lemon basil seems to fair pretty well so we are happy about that.
Flower power is in force in the form of dahlias and honestly it’s hard to keep up with them.  Their production is steady and they need picking 2 to 3 times a week to keep the plants going.
It’s tough, what with all the other crops also maxxing out. Sleep?  What is that?  Ha ha…
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August 2, 2017

The August day length is still pretty long but we are noticing the slight delay of daybreak in the early morning hours. There’s now darkness when getting ready to go out to work. Even though the days are getting shorter, the warmest days are still yet to come.
Fruit, roots, flowers and leaves are coming in fast and furious. We are now dealing with a very wide range of crops that are growing, which leaves little time to even think of other things on the list. Our lineup this next week will include, Poblano peppers, some extremely hot Cayenne peppers, some early apple varieties and the first potatoes which have been patiently waiting their turn to be dug up from the ground. 
It’s a real chore just managing the time to get to all the things that are coming on in the days, weeks and months ahead. We typically harvest leafy crops early in the morning with the hardier items later towards midday. The crop harvest schedule varies during the summer weeks depending on our orders. We aim to finish before 1 or 2 pm but sometimes heavy harvest schedules can span most of the day. When that happens it leaves less time for weeding, irrigating and keeping up on crop thinning and the thousand other things that need to get done on the farm. 
To the happy amusement of our long standing field crew, we are having some new eager young market employees putting time in the field, which is good to see, as every little bit helps. 
Happy August!
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July 19, 2017

Alternating hot and cool periods the last few weeks are allowing the full spectrum of our wide range of crops to do their thing. We are already pretty heavy into tomato season with all the dry farmed cherry tomatoes, Early Girls and heirlooms coming on. Word has it that further inland it has been so hot with temperatures into triple digits regularly that the blossoms have been falling off leading to a reduced fruit set for the various tomato crops.  Another reason to be thankful for being on the Central Coast. 
The pepper crops are promising to be heavy with lots of fruit setting in the above 50 degree nights. Meanwhile, lettuces, chicories, Cole crops, cilantro and other greens are doing great! We are even seeing some ripe plums, apricots and early apples too!
I have been thinking a lot about all the new developments effecting smaller local farmers. There is a large and growing presence of home delivery options from retailers, food kit companies and with the recent purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon, the potential for people to shop from their mobile phones without ever seeing what they are buying in person. I have my own opinions about this kind of shopping, but I do think there is value in knowing where it is coming from and seeing what you are buying. Convenience also does have its’ costs.  The more direct and efficiently food travels to the consumers, the more sustainable it is both energy-wise and financially for the growers. 
Another added pressure starting to become a reality is marijuana. Recreational and medical marijuana laws are now allowing it’s cultivation to be a much more common practice on the Central Coast. There are starting to be some unintended ramifications for farms growing food, flowers and fiber. The main impacts are putting pressure on land lease prices and impacting the already tight farm labor issues. Smaller farms that lease land in somewhat isolated areas are most at risk for negative impacts from this. There have also been some larger greenhouse operations that previously grew flowers, now converted over to marijuana with some rather ominous impacts on their neighbors, such as having armed guards now patrolling properties and reduced farm road access becoming an issue.
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July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth! May the 4th be with you moving forth into summer and into the future. I am impressed with the scope of our local communities efforts at real independence; whether it be food, fabric, energy, and most importantly, thinking. It’s something to celebrate, but it’s not just independence but the INTERdependence that connecting more closely with the sources and resources of our community we should celebrate and affirm. Our work in progress at Route 1 Farm is moving towards a much more sustainable future. It’s not something you can do alone so we are also thanking all those people we interact with.
We apologize that we’ve been lagging with the eNewsletters lately. Due to a very full workload of projects and events as well as trying to re-scale our farm plan to fit the new reality of a smaller field crew, we fell behind in publishing the eNewsletter. It’s all getting done but it’s taking all of our focus, creativity and energy to make our rather complex planting lineup happen. We did get our summer crops in pretty early and have gotten a jump on the tomatoes. We are now looking at a few dry farmed tomatoes ripening this week. First are the Sungold cherry tomatoes leading the pack with lots of clusters turning bright orange and going out to markets. There are a few Early Girls ripening here and there too. Other fruit coming on include Green Gage plums, gold raspberries, even a few Red Haven peaches are going to the Wednesday farmers’ market.
The fog is slowing down the growth of some crops such as peppers and eggplant. The plants are growing fine with many, many small green peppers being set as the fog holds in any daytime heat preventing it from escaping into the night. We are growing a pretty large variety of peppers this year. Later in the season, you can expect to see sweet bells, multiple varieties of poblanos (with several seed trials for a seed company), paprika, gold and yellow Cayenne, Corno Di Toro and jalapeños.… Read the rest

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