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
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 market
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 of
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 a home.
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 Spanish
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 food producers.
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