Farmers

Avalos Farm

Everyone’s Harvest Market Days:
Sundays in Marina

Produce:
See Avalos Farm Monthly Availability List

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

People:
Avalos 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 nursery in Watsonville to grow his plant starters and buys seeds from Snow Seed in Salinas for planting directly into the ground.

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 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

Blossom Hill Nursery

Business: Blossom Hill Nursery

Market Days: Sundays in Marina

Products: Perennials, Annuals,Succulents, Outdoors, Grasses, Hanging Baskets and Ground Covers wholesale plants from their nursery! Grown with natural light and acclimated outdoors to create strong, long-lasting plants.

City Business Production is Conducted: Watsonville, CA

People: Larry Castronova, the owner and main caretaker, and his son Gary have succeed in this thriving, 40-year old family business. Gary has childhood memories of loading pumpkins into the flat-beds of trucks and selling the last of the Poinsettia a few days before Christmas. Larry, “a do it all kind of guy,” as described by his son, enjoys working with his hands and construction, “he’s built houses,” says Gary in between helping his customers. Gary enjoys an active life of mountain biking, or just sitting outside drinking a cold beer.

Business History: Having saved his money to start his business in 1974, Larry majored in Horticulture from Cornell college. Born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, Larry moved out here in ‘72, from there he began shaping his business into the flourishing nursery it is today. The patience and care that is put into their plants proves the longevity of their business. Because they do not use gas heaters, and allow time to adjust into the outdoor climate their products are healthy, where in commercial stores “they may look good for a week, but don’t last long,” explained Gary.

Sourcing: Larry grows from seeds, cuttings, and seedlings at their local, five-acre nursery.

Personal Note: Gary says he knows the products are good because people keep coming back for them. They look nice and the nursery grows all year round. He says the business returns to the basics, and is successful that way.

What motivates you to do this work? It is great working outside and being in the nice fresh air. It’s been a good business; it pays the bills and beats working in an office! And green is good!

 

 

Chia Her Farm

chia-her1

Everyone’s Harvest Market Days: Sundays in Marina

Produce: See Chia Her Farm Seasonal Produce Chart

Farmland: 10 acres in Sanger, CA

People: Chia Her is the owner. His wife, Chia Thao, and their children help out on the farm and at the farmers’ market. Chia is their family name—in their culture this is used as the first name rather than the last name.

Certification: Certified Producers in Fresno County

Farm History: Surrounded by piles of colorful vegetables, Chia Her’s friendly face is not to be missed at the Marina Market. Chia Her, his wife Chia Thao and daughter Kang Her all work in the fields and sell their produce at farmers’ markets in Marina and San Jose. A native of Laos from the Hmong tribe, Chia Her came to the United States in 1992. Upon moving to California, he learned how to farm from his brother. Five years ago, he started his own family farm.

Pest Management: A bulldozer is used to turn over soil and discourage pests. No chemical pesticides are used.

Weed Control: Weeds are removed manually.

Personal Note: Chia Her likes the Marina market because “many people come to enjoy my vegetables. The Marina market is not too hot and the winter season is very good.” Chia Her was a language teacher in Laos, and became a nurse while living in Thailand. He likes to stir fry beef or pork with luffa squash (xingua) and season it with oyster sauce and garlic.

What motivates you to do this work? According to Chai Thao, the customers are talkative and very friendly. Chia Her and Chia Thao like to keep their customers healthy with fresh vegetables.

To Contact: 559-448-6117

 

Gallardo Organic Farm

 

Everyone’s Harvest Market Days: Sundays in Pacific Grove, Wednesdays at Natividad, Saturdays in Seaside

Products: Organic fruits and vegetables

 

Inzana Ranch

inzanaEveryone’s Harvest Market Days: Mondays in Pacific Grove

Produce: See Inzana Ranch Seasonal Produce Chart

Farmland: Three sites near Hughson, CA—160 acres

People: Tony Inzana and Joye are the owners of Inzana Ranch. The ranch is a menagerie of ducks, geese, chickens, cats, dogs, cows, a horse, a goat and all kinds of birds. They are visited by coyotes, hawks and at least three barn owls. They also have bats, which are unbelievably difficult to persuade to leave. Tony’s wife, Joy, is in charge of all of the animals. At the PG Market you will always find Tony and Joye’s friendly faces.

Certifications: Certified Producer in Stanislaus County, Registered by the State of California as an Organic Grower that is certified Organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).

Farm History: Tony and Joye Inzana are co-owners and purchased an 1890 Victorian on 100 acres in 1985. The property, including the house and land, had been vacant and unused for four years. It has come a long way but remains a work in progress.  Tony grew up in Southern California near Port Hueneme. His extended family farmed avocados and lemons nearby, and as a boy Tony would make forts in the eucalyptus trees between the orchards. He began farming after serving in the Air Force, looking forward to the opportunity to build something.

Pest Management: Inzana Ranch uses pheromones—chemicals produced and released by insects that modify the behavior of their recipients. The pheromones attract male insects to traps, reducing the reproduction of the pest.

Weed Control: Weeds are controlled manually with a hoe and with mulch.

Personal Note: In the past 10 years Inzana Ranch has added geothermal heating and air conditioning, and has completely transitioned to solar electrical power. They have installed a 60 KW solar electric system with 350+ solar panels, which meet the total electrical requirements of the ranch. “Joye makes sure we get credit for every amp, too!” says Tony.

What motivates you to do this work? Tony enjoys spending time outside and working in the agriculture field because it keeps him busy year-round. There is always something to do in the field, from harvesting produce to getting the soil ready to grow the new crops.

Website: http://inzanaranch.com

To Contact: 209-883-2935

 

 

J & J Ramos Farm

j and J ramos

Everyone’s Harvest Market Days: Tuesdays in Salinas

Produce: See J & J Ramos Farm Seasonal Produce Chart

Farmland: 120 acres in Hollister, CA

People: Alex, Cesar, Alberto and Oscar Ramos; Vicente Garcia, Arturo Garcia, and Jorge Vasquez.

Certification: Certified Producer in Stanislaus County

Farm History: J & J Ramos Farms has been in the farming business since the mid 1990’s. It was started by Rosario Ramos, who has now since retired. His sons now run the family business and a 120 acre farm in Hollister, CA

Pest Management: J & J Ramos Farms uses fertilizers and fungicides

Personal Note: The Ramos sons attend around 25 farmers’ markets each week, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area. They have been attending the Salinas market since 2004.

What motivates you to do this work? Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, Rosario Ramos came to the United States with hopes to own and run his own business. J & J Ramos Farms has made this dream a reality.

To Contact: 209-606-1158

 

 

JCG Farm

jcgEveryone’s Harvest Market Days: Sundays in Marina and Mondays in Pacific Grove

Produce: See JCG Farm Seasonal Produce Chart

Farmland: 5 acres in Watsonville, CA

People: Jose Garcia is the owner. All eight family members, including wife Bertenice, help out on the farm.

Certification: California Certified Organic Farmer, Certified Producer in Santa Cruz County, Certified Humanely Raised & Handled, Certificate of Organic Operations

Farm History: Jose learned to farm from his Grandparents, who were farmers in Mexico growing vegetables, corn, wheat, and beans. They sold everything directly from their farm to the people of their village. Everything was grown organically, without any pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Jose continues to learn from the other local vendors in the market.

Pest Management: No special methods are used as there are currently no issues with insects.

Weed Control: Weeding is done manually.

Personal Note: Bertenice loves to cook. Her specialty is strawberry tamales.

What motivates you to do this work?  Jose loves watching his products grow.  He is passionate about growing produce on his farm and bringing this fresh produce to his customers.

To Contact: 831-247-7233

 

 

Ken’s Top Notch

Kens Top NotchSundays in Marina

Farmland:120 acres of organic farmland

People:  Owned by Ken Lee, they operate as a small farm. Most of the work is completed by family and a few of employees.

Certification:  Kens Top Notch Produce is Certified Organic by the Organic Certifiers and is also certified as a Fresno County Certified Producer by the county’s   Agricultural commissioner.

Farm History:  They started out as a smaller farm but as people began to enjoy their produce more and more, they expanded. One of the obstacles Ken’s Top Notch faces is luck–or lack of luck–with weather. Farming has been in their family for many generations. Decades ago vegetable farming was most common, but as Ken’s Top Notch explored more opportunities an orchard was started. Ever since, their farm has been expanding.

Pest management:  Their farm is certified organic and they use methods that must pass their certification each year. This includes organic sprays.

Weed Control:  They do not use any sprays for weeds on their farm. Top Notch constantly has to disc the fields and they use propane burners to help get ride of the weeds if necessary.

Personal Note:   Ken’s Top Notch Produce takes pride in everything that they bring to the market. They want customers to enjoy the quality of the produce without having to compromise the price. The fruits are picked fresh and certified organic.

What motivates you to do this work? They love bringing tree ripe fruits to the farmers markets. Their customers love that they are organically and locally grown, and that their produce tastes the finest.

 

La Milpa Organic Farm

La milpaEveryone’s Harvest Market Days: Mondays in Pacific Grove

Produce: See La Milpa Organic Farm Seasonal Produce Chart

Farmland: 5 acres at ALBA in Salinas, CA and 10 acres near Lake San Antonio

People: Maria Luz Reyes and husband Florentino Collazo are the owners. They both work in the fields. Their sons Edgar, Fabian, and Alexis help at the markets when they’re not in school. Maria founded La Milpa in 2005, and her husband Florentino joined the farm in 2008.

Certification: Certified Producer in Monterey County; California Certified Organic Farmer

Farm History: Maria Luz worked at an asparagus farm before taking off on her own with the help of Agricultural Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) in 2005. She really enjoyed the ALBA program because it provided her with all the knowledge she needed to start her farm, and gave her the business administration skills on how to conduct and maintain sales of farm produce. Maria Luz enjoys growing organic crops because of their superior flavor, and her close supervision ensures that they are of the highest quality. California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) certifies all her produce as organic. In 2007, she expanded her farm and bought land further inland to grow heat-loving crops.

Pest Management: Spiders and red ladybugs are used for chemical-free, biological pest control.

Weed Control:  They mainly use a hoe and tractor. When they are not growing anything on their farmland, they plant organic grass to prevent weeds from growing.

Soil: Their method of nutrient replacement for the soil consists of composting, crop rotation, and the use of fertilizer 442.

Personal Note: The farm’s name, La Milpa, comes from the ancient combination of squash, beans and corn—dubbed the “three sisters of life” by the Native Americans—that grow in a bio-intensive manner.

What motivates you to do this work? Maria enjoys working independently and being her own boss. She likes growing organic products because they are healthy and beneficial to the environment since they do not use harmful chemicals.

To Contact: 831-235-5608

 

Ledesma Farm

Ledesma

Everyone’s Harvest Market Days: Tuesdays in Salinas

Produce: See Splendor Salad – Ledesma Farm Seasonal Produce Chart

Farmland: 20 acres in Hollister and Gustine, CA

People: Javier Ledesma owns and operates the farm. He is originally from Valle de Santiago Guanajuato, Mexico and learned how to grow salad greens. He now grows a variety of vegetables and fruits.

Certification: Certified Producer in San Benito County

Farm History: Ledesma’s  family roots are in Guanajuato, Mexico, in Valle de Santiago. The family came to the United States without much, but with the help of the Agriculture and Land Based Training Association (ALBA) they were able to start a small organic business.

Pest Management: Glue traps are used to trap pests.

Weed Control: Weeds are removed by hand.

Personal Note: Their business is all family-owned.

What motivates you to do this work? The family believes organic farming is a less dangerous profession for their family – farming is natural, good for the environment and provides fair wages for small businesses.

To Contact: 209-854-3999

 

 

MockaBees Apiary

MockaBeesBusiness: MockaBees Apiary

Market Days: Sunday’s in Marina and Mondays in Pacific Grove

Products: Local raw and pure honey, creamed honey, wax, all wax candles

City Business Production is Conducted: Aromas, CA

People: Richard Mockabee and a couple million bees. You’ll often hear him ask customers, “What’s the buzz?!” His charm, charisma, and bee knowledge makes him a perfect fit for farmers markets. In the 1990’s he thought beekeeping would be a piece of cake. So he bought some bees, “and failed miserably”. Now that he’s retired, he decided to give beekeeping a whirl again. Now Richard can answer all your bee questions and is always up for a chat. It’s apparent how much marketgoers love Richard because they are already coming back!

Business History: In 2010, after Richard retired, he took up beekeeping again and began selling at Everyone’s Harvest in January 2013. Beekeeping takes serious management of the bees. They need to be guided in order to thrive in an organized way.

Sourcing: Originally, Richard bought his first bees from a breeder. Now he divides his hives once they become big enough to become multiple colonies.

Personal Note: When he isn’t tending to his bees, Richard enjoys visiting his property in Mexico. Now that he has retired and opened his own business, he is working again!

What motivates you to do this work? Beekeeping gives Richard something to do with his free time. He says, “the more I learn, the less I know. A lot of beekeeping is trial and error – if they live you are doing it right!”

To Contact: 831-247-4093

 

 

Moua’s Produce

Moua'sEveryone’s Harvest Market Days: Sundays in Marina

Produce: See Moua’s Produce Seasonal Produce Chart

Farmland: 3 acres in Fresno, CA

People: Moua Vang and Chou Vang are the owners. Their two sons and four daughters help on the farm and at the markets.

Certification: Certified Producer in Fresno County

Farm History: Moua worked on his brother’s farm for eight years before starting his own farm in 2007.  When they moved here from Laos, they realized that they didn’t see many Asian vegetables at farmers’ markets or in grocery stores.  He saw this as a business opportunity and began to farm them himself to create a niche in the market.

Pest Management: If a pest problem arises, they will lose their crop to the pests. They do not use any form of pest management.

Weed Control: Moua’s Produce practices hand weeding because their crop area is small enough to be able to manage it on their own.

Personal Note: Moua is Hmong, a hill tribe in Laos. He used to work in an elementary school as a bilingual assistant, helping kids whose first languages were Hmong and Thai. Moua’s Produce only brings seasonal crops to the market because it allows them to bring only the best tasting vegetables.  During the winter, they try to bring a little bit of everything that’s in season, and find that their customers greatly appreciate the variety.  Even so, summer typically tends to be their most profitable time of the year because the weather is so nice and everyone likes to come to the markets!

What motivates you to do this work? Moua enjoys teaching customers about the unusual vegetables they grow and sell—don’t be afraid to ask questions!

 

 

Rio de Parras Organics

rio-de

Everyone’s Harvest Market Days: Mondays in Pacific Grove

Produce: See Rio de Parras Organics Seasonal Produce Chart

Farmland: Five acres in Salinas, CA

People: Eleazar Juarez is the owner. Two workers help on the farm. Eleazar’s wife, Ana, and two children help out at the farmers’ markets.

Certification: Certified Producer in Monterey County

Farm History: Born and raised in Michoacán, Mexico, Eleazar has always been close to farming. He came to the U.S. in 1985 to live with his Uncle. When he wasn’t at school he was on the land farming beans, squash, and corn. In 2004, he joined the Small Farmer Education Program (PEPA) offered by the Agricultural Land Based Association (ALBA) in Salinas. He is happy to be growing foods naturally with no synthetic chemicals or fertilizers to feed his own family and the customers at local farmers’ markets.

Pest Management: Crop rotation and ladybugs are used for biological pest control.

Weed Control: Weed control is done manually with a hoe and occasionally with a tractor.

Personal Note: Ana is a great cook! One of the family’s favorites is acelgas con papas (chard with potato).

What motivates you to do this work? Eleazar enjoys being his own boss and growing organic products that his customers like. He is happy that his business has given him a decent lifestyle with the profits he makes.

To Contact: 831-682-3376

 

Rodriguez Ranch

rodriguez

Everyone’s Harvest Market Days: Sundays in Marina, Mondays in Pacific Grove and Wednesdays at Natividad Medical Center

Produce: See Rodriguez Ranch Seasonal Produce Chart

Farmland: 60 acres in Watsonville, CA—20 acres of organic and 40 acres of conventional crops.

People: Roberto and Manuel Rodriguez are the owners. The entire Rodriguez family joins forces to produce their vegetables. They also have ten to fifteen workers throughout the year who assist with harvesting and preparing the farm. Melania and Alba Rodriguez are the friendly faces usually seen at the farmers’ markets.

Certification: Certified Producer in Monterey County, California Certified Organic Farmer

Farm History: Roberto and Manuel Rodriguez started the farm in March of 2001. They learned how to farm in Michoacán, Mexico where they grew strawberries. When they came to the United States they started off by working in the fields in Watsonville, California. Eventually, Roberto and Manuel decided to start their own farm. They began by renting fifteen acres where they grew raspberries, strawberries and winter vegetables. The farm has since expanded, and they now have a total of 60 acres.

Pest Management: A sucking vacuum is used to remove bugs. The vacuum is connected to their tractor and sucks up the bugs on top of the rows of strawberries. The Rodriguez family also cleans and maintains their produce by hand, checking plants every day for pests.

Weed Control: Rodriguez Ranch actually uses weeds as fertilizer for the plants. They let the weeds grow to a certain height, then pull them and lay them next to the plants. The weeds will eventually decompose, releasing nutrients into the soil.

Personal Note: The farm is family owned, and they are very proud of this achievement. They put a lot of hard work into producing high quality products. Mrs. Rodriguez invites you to visit the market and try organic produce; not only is it healthier and more eco-friendly, it is cheaper than the vegetables in chain grocery stores. The Rodriguez family wants to spread the word about the benefits of eating local, organic produce.

What motivates you to do this work? One thing that motivates Manuel is being able to help people by providing work to families. He finds satisfaction in paying their employees and bringing food to their families. Manuel enjoys the lifestyle of agriculture and farming.

To Contact: 831-726-9008

 

Santa Rosa Farm

santa-rosa

Everyone’s Harvest Market Days: Sundays in Marina, Mondays in Pacific Grove and Wednesdays at Natividad Medical Center

Produce: See Santa Rosa Farm Seasonal Produce Chart

Farmland: Four acres in Freedom, CA

People: Jose Rangel is the owner. He has four other employees. Lourdes is often at the Marina Market, and Antonio is usually at the Pacific Grove Market.

Cerification: Certified Producer in Santa Cruz County

Farm History: Antonio brought an idea to start his own business to Jose Rangel, the co-owner and his business partner. Although they had no experience with starting a business, Antonio felt like they could do it. At the time, he working at a Farmer’s Market in Monterey and was there for a year to observe how other businesses were structured. Soon, the two went into a partnership together!

Pest Management: They spray fertilizer only when needed. An interesting pest management tactic they use is hanging a sticky spider from the ceiling along a row of plants.

Weed Control: Weeds are controlled by hand.

Personal Note: During their first year of business, they planted everything at once which resulted in everything growing at the same time. They learned from this to plant by sections in order to keep with up everything and not waste plants.

What motivates you to do this work? Antonio is motivated by the fact that his idea has turned out to be profitable. He also enjoys working in a small business. Antonio worked with flowers for many years before he began his own company, and felt that the experience he had would benefit him in the future. By owning his own company, Antonio gets to spend much more time with his family than he ever did before, which is important to him.

 

Serendipity Farms

Everyone’s Harvest Market Days: Monday market in Pacific Grove

Produce: Monthly Availability List Coming Soon!

Farmland: Serendipity Farms has 15 acres of organic farmland in Carmel Valley and 5 acres of organic farmland at their personal family home in Aromas.

People: Jamie Collins owns Serendipity Farms and makes it a family affair by including her husband Avtonom Ordjonikidze and baby Ivan Kale. They are all friendly faces you may see around the markets! Jamie is joined by her employee, Dave, at the Pacific Grove market.

Certification: Serendipity Farms is Certified Organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and is also certified as a Monterey County certified producer by the county’s Agriculture Commissioner.

Farm History: Jamie received her bachelors’ degree in fruit science from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. From there, she began working on farms in Moss Landing, but transitioned to Carmel Valley in search of a warmer climate. Serendipity Farms has been a running farm since 2001!

Pest Management: Pests are managed by keeping the soil healthy and rotating crops often. In 14 years of production, they have never sprayed!

Weed Control: Weeding is done by tractors as well as manually.

Motivation: Serendipity Farms is motivated by producing healthy food with wonderful flavors to share with communities!

Website: http://www.serendipity-organic-farm.com/

 

Stackhouse Brothers Orchards

stackhouseEveryone’s Harvest Market Days: Sundays in Marina and Mondays in Pacific Grove

Produce: See Stackhouse Seasonal Produce Chart

Farmland: Over 250 acres in Hickman, CA

People: This family-owned business is run by two brothers–Rodney and Don Stackhouse–with the help of several employees.

Certification: Certified Producer in Stanislaus County

Farm History: Rodney and Don Stackhouse grew up on their family’s dairy farm. Starting with only five acres and ten cows, their dad steadily expanded the farm to 80 acres and incorporated stone fruit trees. After Rodney graduated in 1964 from California State University, Fresno, he made the decision to farm, as well. The brothers continue to buy land to add to their father’s original acreage. At first, they primarily grew peaches to sell to canneries. Today they also grow almonds and other fresh stone fruit, including apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, and pluots. They sell their produce at over 30 farmers’ markets along California’s Central Coast.

Pest Management: Stackhouse Brothers Orchards uses hanging pheromones (occasionally adding bacteria) to control pests in the summer. During the winter they use oil.

To Contact: 209-988-0800