Land in Watsonville and Hollister
Years farming: Andy has farmed
for the last 20 years in various capacities from
farmworker to owner, from large farm to small.
Total acres farmed: 25
Key people: Andy, farmer and
rave king; Julia, farm wife, CEO, mom, email elf,
etc.; España, foreman, tractor driver,
all around repairman; Jose España, head
harvester; Lourdes Duarte, head vegetable packer
Range of crops: greens, root
crops, tubers and herbs, berries, peppers, tomatoes,
garlic, melons, artichokes, and more besides that.
Marketing methods: CSA and 1
farmers market, with a small number of carefully
selected restaurants that pick up at the farmers
Soil type: silty loam
Regenerative practices: cover
cropping, crop rotation, fallowing
Length of season: all year
overs: Red, white and orange carrots are
among the few crops Mariquita still has to offer right
now, as the 2004 CSA season begins in CA.
March 23 , 2004: It is raining again. The
fields are swampy. At Mariquita Farm we can’t disk,
or list, or cultivate, or plant, and we can barely harvest.
Our 2004 CSA delivery season starts in March, with hungry
customers from Monterey to San Francisco waiting for their
first boxes of fresh veggies. This has me in a bit of a panic.
But since the early spring isn’t the easiest season
to farm it becomes the season for.... ta - dah! ... SHAMELESS
“Why,” you ask “would you aggressively make
promises about future harvests just exactly when you feel
uneasy about your ability to produce them?” Easy. I
need the money that comes from checks subscribers will send
me, I believe in the power of prayer, and I have some seven
years of prior experience to guide me.
It’s like this. I DO have some product overwintering
in the ground, like parsnips, Indian red carrots, Belgian
white carrots, chantenay carrots, and Amsterdam cutting celery.
During a dry spell several weeks ago we squeaked in a planting
of orach, beets, and chard. Plus we run our CSA in concert
with another small farm called High Ground Organics. We call
our joint effort Two Small Farms CSA. Presumably Stephen Pedersen
of High Ground Organics has sneaked a few plantings in. I
should call him right now. And I’m going to pray for
a brief drought so we can do some more planting.
“But wouldn’t it make more sense to start your
CSA deliveries a bit later, say, May, when harvest are more
No. In March people are still murmuring their New Year’s
resolutions to themselves about eating healthy vegetables,
supporting their neighborhood farms, and cooking at home more
often. By May cherries and peaches have arrived, the sun promises
summer fun and the public’s attention drifts from vitamins,
health, and responsible living. I say sign the people up in
February and March when they are hungry for fresh produce
and they are paying the highest price at the supermarket for
the poorest produce picked from the most distant climes. Then
pray for divine help in your effort to assist the public in
eating a more conscious diet and doing good by their neighbor.
Also, news-wise, late winter is dead. Food sections in local
papers are starving for stories come March and editors may
be open to publish stories about the efforts of local farmers
to supply fresh produce for local markets. Even radio programers
might be hungry for something different than presidential
politics, war news, and celebrity scandals and find time to
interview a farmer. If nothing else March is a time to plan
for future publicity opportunities so the farm is ready for
them when they pop up during the busy production season. So
far this year we have a couple of school presentations planned
and a tentative date set for a radio interview about CSA on
KSCO, a local am radio station to us in Santa Cruz, CA.
To keep things mixed up and reach as broad a spectrum of
people as possible we are planning a “winter abundance”
meal with chef Joseph Manzare of Globe restaurant in SF. Globe
buys lots of our produce all year 'round, and our abundance
meal can feature our crops like parsnips, red, white, and
orange carrots, orach, and beets as well as our weeds, like
nettles. And we are planning a farm open house. It will all
work out. I just need to keep one eye focused on future, one
eye glued to the sky, and one eye fixed on the bottom line.
March 4, 2004
the influx of cheap Chinese garlic—even
in to Gilroy, the “Garlic Capital of the
World”—Mariquita Farm grows green
spring garlic, and banks its garlic dollars long
before the garlic festival in July.
February 13, 2004
riders of the purple goosefoot In Watsonville,
California, the founders of Mariquita CSA discover
the value of this antique cousin to spinach.