HOMETOWN: Los Angeles
FARM TYPE/CROPS: Seasonal, root & specialty root vegetables, fruits, flowers, potatoes
FARM LOCATION: Tehachapi, California & Lucerne Valley, Bakersfield
- Music:I'm really into music these days, I especially love listening to music on the farm, I don't have a particular favorite band or genre but I like Alternative Music/ Rock/ Country/ classic and lately on my iPod you will find bands like Imagine Dragons/ Beck/ FUN and, to mix it up, Elvis Costello. I've started having some musicians come out to the farm to perform when we have our chef dinners and it's been a big hit. We recently had a band named Dustbowl Revival jam out with us on the farm and it was an amazing one of a kind experience for our guests. We took an old train car and created a stage for them and later that night, we all ended up jamming in the car.
- Food: My favorite foods are Tropical Foods I can't grow myself, anything like a mango/ papaya/ pineapple or the uber exotic like Persian mulberries
- Drink(s): On the drink side, I love to support my local craft brewers. These guys have made beer gourmet and are making IPA beers household names. Some of my favorites are El Segundo Brewing Company and White Dog IPA.
- Blue jeans: Levi's.
- Thing to do AFTER work: When I'm not working at the farm or at the farmers markets in Santa Monica or Hollywood, I love to go to concerts with friends but I also love to visit my chef friends and see what they are doing with my produce. We often host dinners at restaurants where I will visit with the guests and chat about the dishes the chef has created.
- Movie stars: Sean Penn / Robert Downey Jr.
- Tractor: John Deere.
- Mantra: DO IT.
Do you have children?
How did you get into farming?
Because both my parents and my grandfather were in the business, I had a shared passion for the industry and I wanted to help fulfill my family legacy. I also felt I could help grow the business and build relationships with chefs and restaurants and new farmers markets.
What do you think a big misconception is about farming?
Over the past 20 years there has been a growing interest and media attention surrounding the farm to table movement in restaurants, thus romanticizing the farming industry as we know it. The biggest misconception that I see is that it is not as romantic or as easy as people may think. It’s a lot of long days, hard work, manual labor, and things completely out of your control, like weather and crops that won't cooperate.
What was the hardest part getting started?
It wasn't as hard for me to get started because my father had already built a strong farm with strong crops, but in the early days 20 to 30 years ago there was a very high failure rate in family farms. Super markets were king and there weren't nearly as many farmers markets. We saw many of our friends in farming struggle to make ends meet or to sell to consumers let alone chefs. There were very few successful farmers and farms 30 years ago and a high failure rate so it didn't inspire me to succeed. I also didn't get into this business for money or fame; but, thanks to the many chefs that I work with, our farm is one of the most well known in the LA food scene.
What surprised you about farming?
I was very surprised by how happy people become after eating food that tastes like it should and how it impacts them from their mouth to their soul.
Tell us about a day on the farm: When does your day start and end?
Every day is different depending on if I am managing the farm, harvesting or managing the market. On Wednesdays, I am a staple at the Santa Monica Farmers Market of which I was one of the founding members. I stay the night in the city on Tuesday and arrive at the market around 6 am when it opens for set up. I visit with my team, check the inventory and help set up our stand which has a prime location at the corner of Arizona. I chat with all of my chef friends who visit and my regular customers who range from young professionals to home cooks. After the market ends around 1:30 I will pack up, take a little nap (if time allows) and visit one of my chef friends for lunch or dinner. One of my pals, Ray Garcia, is two blocks from The Market so I often stop by to see what he is cooking up with my new produce.
What makes you happy in a day on the farm?
Being there and seeing all the crops come together and function to create a healthy lifestyle for all who enjoy our food.
What makes you frustrated?
Unseasonable weather beyond my control.
What’s the best part of a day?
Getting to the market.
Any lessons learned on the farm?
Do you have any advice for fellow farmers?
It's not as easy at is seems.
Anything to say to those who aren’t farmers?
Enjoy the food!