Patrick DeYoung co-owns Blue Moon Organics in Aptos, California, a small town located near the beach in Santa Cruz County. He started the farm with his college friend Greg Rawlings after getting laid off from a blue-collar job at a stock brokerage firm, where he wasn’t enjoying his work. Newly unemployed and homeless, he decided to take a break and spend some quality time surfing.
Meanwhile, Rawlings had graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a biology degree and was managing Swanton Berry Farms, so he called asking if DeYoung wanted a job as a produce driver. Soon after, DeYoung and Rawlings decided to start organic farming on their own. With their combined passion and some startup capital from family members, the two men grew their fruit venture into the successful local business that Blue Moon is today.
In this inspiring video, we learn that DeYoung and Rawlings lease the land that they use to grow berries and other fruits on. We also get insight into their organic farming process: DeYoung explains that healthy strawberries, for example, will grow large flowers that correspond to the fruit’s size. To achieve this, the farmers use a cover crop to help build the organic matter and let their soil rest. This gives the soil time to regenerate to a healthy level every year. Instead of spraying pesticides, Blue Moon prefers to spend money on insects like ladybugs, which help to preserve their crops. It’s simple, really — DeYoung has a young daughter who spends time at the farm and picks her own strawberries. If the farm used toxic pesticides, she wouldn’t be able to pick her own fruit. They also choose fruit varieties based on their taste and quality, even if they might be more difficult to grow. This speaks to a broader ethos of preservation, respect, and community that Blue Moon brings to its organic farming.
Their first three years in business, however, were tough for berry farming because of hard rain that came late in the spring season. Today, Blue Moon Organics has achieved more stability and now has a strong partnership with the FruitGuys, who sell the farm’s fruit to businesses, schools, and homes at their peak harvest time. DeYoung is proud of his farm’s product, so he insists that the fruit must reach customers within two days. With the FruitGuys’ commitment to using locally grown fruit, farms like Blue Moon Organics can focus on growing and picking the finest produce.