Farmland: 42 acres in Watsonville, CA. 20 acres are organic and 22 are conventional farming methods.
People: 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.
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 42 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 organic produce.
What motivates you to do this work? One thing that motivates Rodriguez Ranch is being able to help people by providing work to families. They find satisfaction in paying their employees and bringing food to their families. Manuel also enjoys agriculture and farming.
Santa Rosa Farm
Farmland: 4 acres in Freedom, CA
People: Jose and Antonio Rangel (brother-in-laws), owners with five employees.
Certification: Certified Producer in Santa Cruz County.
Farm History: Antonio brought the idea to Jose Rangel, co-owner and business partner, to start their own business, although they had no experience with starting a business at all. Yet, Antonio had been working with another company for about 15 years when he came up with the idea to start his own business. He was then working at a Farmer’s Market in Monterey, and was there for a year to observe how other businesses were structured. After working with that company, Antonio pitched his idea to start his own business to Jose, who had about 5 years of experience.
Pest Management: They spray fertilizer only when needed. Some of the flowers are fertilized in water whereas the ground is fertilized once every three months. 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 their business they planted everything at once which resulted in everything growing at once. 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 states, “it is motivating when an idea turns out to be profitable”. They enjoy working in a small business. Antonio had also been working in flowers for many years before he began his own company, which is why he chose this as his crop. He felt that the experience he had would benefit him in the future. Also, 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.
Farmland: Over 250 acres at 13502 Cogswell Road in Hickman, California.
People: This is a family owned business run by Rodney and Don (brothers) with several employees.
Certification: Certified Producer in Stanislaus County.
Farm History: Rodney and Don Stackhouse are the brothers and partners behind Stackhouse Brothers, but Rodney is the one who runs the farm. The brothers grew up on their family's five-acre dairy farm with only 10 cows. Yet, as they were growing up, their dad steadily expanded the farm to 80 acres and incorporated tree fruit. After Rodney, graduated from California State University, Fresno in 1964, he decided to farm as well. Over the years, the brothers bought more land to add to the acreage their dad already owned. At first, they grew mostly cling peaches for sale to the canneries. Today, almonds and fresh stone fruit (apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, and pluots) are what they sell at over 30 farmers’ markets around the California Central Coast, and make up the bulk of their business.
Pest Management: In order to control the pests in the summer, Stackhouse uses hanging pheremones, occasionally adding bacteria. In the winter, they use oil.
Farmland: Five acres in Watsonville, CA and five acres in Gilroy, CA.
People: Jose Nunez, his wife Guadalupe, his sister and brother-in-law, and one employee run the farm.
Certification: California Certified Organic Farmer, Certified Producer in Monterey County.
Farm History: José started the farm in 2008 by himself with only half an acre to begin with. He graduated from ALBA (Agriculture and Land Based Training Association) in 2009, having gone through their 6-month training program in 2008. As his business grew, his wife began to help, and two years ago his brother- and sister-in-law joined as well. In 2010, they hired their first employee outside of the family and have now increased the size of their farm to ten acres.
Pest Management: Pests are controlled with a powdered soap called Roma.
Weed Control: Weeds are controlled with a hoe and by hand.
Soil: Their method of nutrient replacement for the soil on their farms is composting 2.5 tons every year, crop rotation, and the use of fish fertilizer.
Personal Note: They take pride in the fact that their farm is family-owned. Selling healthy organic products to their customers is their top priority.
What motivates you to do this work? Jose states, moving forward and growing their business motivates him to be a farmer”. It is rewarding to work in a family-managed business, rather than for a big corporation. They enjoy working in the agriculture field.