Last week I headed down to Santa Cruz for a CCOF board of directors meeting. Not only was I excited to meet with my fellow board members but I was thrilled to be able to swing by a fellow organic farmer’s farm. Before getting to Santa Cruz I drove up a tiny road in Royal Oaks. Once through the farm gate I was in a small valley, or what I consider a holler, the field was a bowl shape filled with strawberry, tomato, and flower rows on three sides with the fourth side covered in trees and a packing shed. Waiting to show me around was Javier the owner and farmer of JSM Organics.
He walked me up and down his rows of berries, sampling the different varieties as we went. He showed me his various perennial flower plantings. As we walked it was straight farm talk, what variety is this, why do you use that type of mulch, how often do you irrigate, what yields are you expecting, when is your next harvest, and so on. These farm conversations are built around comparisons to one’s farm, market, and climate. For example compared to my farm’s dark black clay soil I felt like I was walking through sand dunes at Javier’s farm. These comparisons can later lead to improvements in one’s farming operation.
I think most people would agree that it is important to always be learning, to hone your skills. A farm visit is just that. Seeing another farmer’s growing methods and how they use different techniques to grow crops is invaluable. Farmers are busy people especially in the spring but it’s important to take time to get off the farm and set foot in someone else’s field.