Betty Hui is powered by fruit. She has to be, she has a busy life. As The FruitGuys Retentions Specialist, she zips up, down, and around the San Francisco Bay Area visiting customers and keeping everybody happy. When she gets home to her farm in the Gold Country, she unplugs the blue tooth headset and picks up a pitchfork.
Betty and her partner Dick Blair operate Bear Track Farm in Garden Valley, CA (Yuba County). The Great Pumpkin was very good to them this year and brought a bumper crop of handball-sized sweet pumpkins. These culinary pumpkins are well suited for sweet and savory dishes, from soups to pies. Their hard shell can even act as a serving bowl for soup.
Betty and Dick are greenhorns, this is their first productive farming season, but they have a lot going for them: good weather, excellent advice, and primo dirt. The rich soil of their farm has been organically maintained for 30 years. They have a great love and respect for their land and their plans for stewardship include fostering native plants for harvesting.
So how did Dick, a 35-year veteran litigation attorney, and Betty, also a law firm veteran, get into farming? For Dick it was his roots, his family were covered-wagon pioneers, “He grew up cowboy” says Betty. Dick fell in love with the Gold Country area after taking kids with disabilities white water rafting there for the non-profit group Environmental Traveling Companions.
Betty’s trajectory into farming is equally unusual. Back in the day, she was a FruitGuys customer. She spearheaded a Bike-to-Work event, which the FruitGuys sponsored, at her office where the fruit was delivered. When she was ready for something new, she came to work for The FruitGuys.
“The FruitGuys has inspired me!” says Betty. “It’s been an evolution. I can’t believe where I’m heading – from FruitGuys customer to a FruitGuys person, to a FruitGuys farmer …From law firm to criminology ”to now a farmer, growing colorful vegetables.”
As much as these two have the energy and talent for farming they acknowledge their learning curve. Dick has engaged longtime organic farmer Greg House and his partner Coco, an ethnobotanist, of Coco Ranch farm, to advise them.
“I’m starting from zero,” says Dick. From irrigation to fencing, everything has to be learned. “I’m reading a book called Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. It has been my consolation when I’m stressed over weeds or gophers.”
It’s a good thing this pair is into fitness because running a farm is hard physical work. But you can see through their farmer duds to previous incarnations as corporate types who spent time at the gym. Now Dick equates bringing in the harvest to a workout: “One hundred foot rows, with 100% germination, stooping to cut vines, packing boxes, lifting them into the truck –that’s about 4,000 squats and three tons lifted.”