One of the most engaging people that I met during last week’s EcoFarm tour was Ronald Donkervoort, the proprietor of Windmill Farm in Moss Landing. He leases his farmland, a small organic production that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. I have never seen such beautiful and healthy looking produce growing in the field. Walking through the small farm was like swimming through waves of succulent kale and luminescent cabbage.
The organic produce that he grows is sold mostly at local farmers markets; Donkervoort explained that he really enjoys getting to know his customers and building personal relationships with them over time. His genuine love and passion for farming is evident as he shows us the fruits of his labor and describes his organic methods.
As an itinerant farmer, Donkervoort faces a new set of challenges with each plot of land that he cultivates. When he first began growing food at his present location, after months of labor he discovered that saltwater had leached into the local groundwater. He now uses recycled water from the county to grow his vegetables. Running the farm also entails dealing with everything from pernicious gophers to the threat of sudden eviction; but somehow Donkervoort seems to take it all in stride.
“People have to eat,” he explained simply.
And if we are fortunate enough, occasionally we will be able to eat some of the delicious organic vegetables grown on Windmill Farm.
The farm tour also stopped near Moss Landing at the Santa Cruz Berry Farming Company, and at an organic greenhouse production site for Jacobs Farm near Corralitos. Dr. Beth Crandall told us about her decades of extensive scientific research breeding new varieties strawberries. We also heard the story of how one great winter pea harvest helped sprout a successful network of organic farms in the United States and in Mexico.