Olson Family Farms in California’s Central Valley is truly a family affair. Five generations have lived on the farmstead and worked the land since John and Anna Olson emigrated from Sweden in 1888. They bought a 22-acre parcel in Kingsburg (Fresno County) and planted peach trees. Back then, before trucking and refrigeration, peaches were hand-sliced and sun-dried. The whole family worked at the peach enterprise.
Why Investigate the O Word
By Pia Hinckle & Chris Mittelstaedt
From their humble back-to-mother-earth roots, organics have moved solidly into the mainstream food business, now a growing multi-billion dollar industry. The good news is that there are now certifiable standards for what qualifies as “organic” and more people than ever are eating food grown with practices that are less harmful to the environment than conventional industrial agriculture. The bad news, or rather, the looming threat, is that as local organic production turns into Big O, small farms may end up feeling squeezed out. Big O is turning into Big Money, with products commanding premium prices at farmers markets and chain supermarkets alike.
Growing Organic Industry Forces Farms to Pay to Play
By Charlene Oldham
Organic food has spread from hippie food co-ops in the 1970s to the shelves of Wal-Mart today. National standards for what is “organic” have necessitated a certification process. But organic certification exacts a price—from sometimes hefty fees to annual inspections and arduous recordkeeping—and some organic farmers say they aren’t willing to pay it.
New Family Farm of Sebastopol, California, was one of six farms awarded grants in April 2013 from The FruitGuys Community Fund, a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives. An outgrowth of the company’s Farm Steward Program, the Community Fund gives resources to small farms for sustainable agriculture projects that contribute to environmental and economic health.
Why Farmers Need to Be Activists
By Tanya Tolchin
Courtesy of Food Politic, Journal of Food News and Culture
Farming with Heart
By Heidi Lewis
The main ingredient in good vegetables, says farmer Jim Durst, is soil: “Feed the soil, and the soil will feed the plants." Jim and his wife, Deborah, have been farming their land at the mouth of the Capay Valley in Yolo County, CA, since the 1980s. Jim caught on to organic farming as a youngster and went on to become one of the founders of Capay Valley's sustainable farming revolution.