Avalos Organic Farm

Everyone’s Harvest Market Days:
Sundays in Marina

Produce:
See Avalos Organic Farm Monthly Availability List

Farmland:
23 acres located in Hollister, San Benito County. Efren Avalos, the owner of Avalos Organic Farm, lives a 35 minute drive away in Salinas, which is a part of Monterey County.

People:
Avalos Organic Farm is a family operation. Efren Avalos does just about everything: from planting, harvesting, and selling at farmers’ markets, he also recruits his brother, nephew, sons, and close friend, Carlos, to help him during the summer months. During the winter months when there is less field work to manage, Efren usually takes the opportunity to take his children to Mexico to visit their grandparents, uncles, and aunts for a month. In Mexico, his sons enjoy the freedom of their grandparents’ 200 acre property, where they practice riding horses and enjoy the time they have to connect to their extended family. Efren takes advantage of this time to plan for the next year’s season. Once he’s back on his farm, he works with a local organic nursery in Watsonville to grow his plant starters and buys seeds from Snow Seed in Salinas for planting directly into the ground.

Certification:
Avalos Organic Farm is Certified Organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and is also certified as a San Benito County Certified Producer by the county’s Agricultural Commissioner.

Farm History:
Efren Avalos has been farming his whole life. He grew up in Las Cruces in the State of Michoacán in Mexico and began learning how to farm from his parents. They had 400 acres of fertile land in Mexico, but struggled to farm enough to support their family because of the lack of water on their land. The family farms when they can during the May to October rainy season, but without water in their well they are unable to farm the rest of the year.

Twenty three years ago, at the age of 17, Efren immigrated to the United States to help provide financial support to his parents. He states, “I was the youngest of eight. All of my brothers and sisters were married. Being the youngest, I felt a responsibility to help my parents.” When Efren first arrived in California from Mexico, he got a job picking strawberries for a large farm company in Salinas, CA. He maintained this work for 12 years. In 2000, with a strong desire to work for himself, Efren decided to attend the Agricultural Land Base Association’s (ALBA) Farmer Education Program (PEPA is the Spanish acronym). PEPA is a six-month, 150-hour adult education course that teaches participants how to establish and operate a small farm business. While attending PEPA, Efren continued to work an average of ten hours a day picking strawberries.

After graduating from the PEPA course, Efren leased a half-acre from ALBA’s Farm Incubator program. ALBA provides PEPA graduates the opportunity to lease a portion of land and offers access to tractors and equipment at their 110-acre Rural Development Center near Salinas.

After two years, Efren moved from farming that half-acre to three acres of land. Today, he has his own organic farm business and works an impressive 23 acres, providing high-quality produce to farmers’ markets in the Bay Area and in Monterey County.

Pest Management:
To control pests, Efren rotates his crops and plants alfalfa, marigolds and other flowers to attract beneficial insects. He also buys beneficial insects to release on the land he farms.

Soil:
To put nutrients back into the soil, Efren plants cover crops in the winter, including fava and garbanzo beans. He gathers any plant debris and all the produce that doesn’t sell at the farmers’ markets and rotates it back into the soil on his farm.

Weed Control: To control weeds, Efren and his family manually weed the land and plant cover crop in the winter. Cover crop helps protect the land from weeds and adds nutrient back into the soil.

Personal Note:
Efren’s 21 year-old daughter just graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.

What motivates you to do this work?
Efren loves working out in the fields – a love he learned from his father in Mexico. He enjoys being outside and connecting with nature.

To Contact: 831-970-5129

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