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
Posted July 20, 2004: We are about to close
another circle at Mariquita Farm. The weather here is hot
now. In the still of the morning I can almost smell the basil
growing. While the scent of basil might prompt some folks
to a summery, Mediterranean mood flavored of pesto and warm
tomatoes fresh from the garden I know it is time to begin
thinking about winter roots again.
To be sure, we still have about 1000 lbs of parsnips stored
in the cooler. Of course the public has lost all interest
in parsnips now that there are cherries, peaches, strawberries,
and raspberries in the market. Well, almost everyone. I take
a few totes of parsnips to the farmers market each week for
our Britannic ex-pat customers so they can savor “mashed
neeps and taters”. “Mashed neeps and taters”
is English for mashed parsnips and potatoes and, to hear it
from them, nothing tastes as sweetly of England as a good
parsnip boiled with potato and mashed with butter. But most
of our remaining parsnips are now being fed to my goats who
don’t read cooking magazines and aren’t conscious
It is the season to plant parsnips again if I want them on
the table for the first cool days of November. Parsnip seed
germinates well if it is fresh but it does take a long time.
While the seed is swelling it needs to be kept consistently
moist. Where we are farming this can be difficult because
not only is the weather hot, it is also frequently quite windy.
Watering parsnips every day until they emerge ties up sprinkler
pipe we need for other plantings. Daily irrigation plus daily
winds work together to create a hard shell to the soil which
the tiny parsnip sprouts have a hard time cracking. Then there
is bird and insect predation to worry about.
In an effort to keep pests off the parsnips we began cloaking
the beds with Agrofabric, a translucent, permeable rowcover
made of woven fiberglass. We discovered that all the umbellifereae
we covered right at sowing time germinated beautifully. The
fabric kept the wind from drying out the soil so it didn’t
crust up so quickly. The mild shading effect of the row cover
appeared to slightly cool the soil too and help to convince
the parsnip seedlings they were sprouting under English skies.
We didn’t have to water so often which helped us with
labor and power costs, and we were able to better care for
our summer crops.
About the time my stinky billy goat in his corral and the
lavender scented English ladies in their apartments in San
Francisco finish chewing the last bite of last season’s
parsnips the new crop will be popping out of the ground. It
is another cycle we are embarking on and I’m happy as
long as we keep rolling.
Truckin' Stop! Put that plastic truck (or
other piece of marketing swag) down and back away.
Think smart promotion to keep your small farm
in the public eye.
June 2, 2004
Carrots It's astounding to what uses Andy
Griffin's farmers' market customers will put his
kinky, crooked carrot culls. Every carrot has
May 11, 2004
I smart? Carelessness, poor planning and neglect
leads Mariquita's Andy Griffin to discover the
true value of a strange old heirloom crop--black
April 20, 2004
off to the many sombreros of a farmer Quack
lawyer, truck driver, fake chef, and borderline
carnival barker: all in a day’s work for
a farmer like Andy Griffin … and once in
a while he gets to contemplate nature.
April 2, 2004
watermelon radish: Conspiracy from the left or
the right … or just a darned good heirloom
daikon? Those were among the suspicions raised
by this ancient veggie at a recent event in Santa
Cruz designed to introduce consumers to local
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.
March 23, 2004
is the time for shameless self-promotion He
can't plant, cultivate or harvest--the fields
are a swamp--but Mariquita's Andy Griffin can
sell shares and hustle publicity.