Name of Farm: Roots Organic Farm Where: Los Olivos, CA Products: Potaotes, Carrots, Onions, Other seasonal Veggies Acres: 40 Certified Organic: Yes
Roots Organic Farm is farmed by Jacob Grant. THe following is an excerpt from an article written about Roots Farm in 2008.
Los Olivos Roots Organic Farm is a prime example. Jacob Grant, a 33-year-old California native, started Roots in 2002, and it’s small even for a small farm, with only 10-15 acres planted at one time. In a very short time, Roots gained favor for its sweet carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, and melons, and now supplies some of the area’s prized restaurants, including Hungry Cat and Hitching Post. Roots sells at six Farmers Markets a week, and seasonally supplies a number of restaurants and grocers, all within 50 miles of the farm.
Although mild-mannered in demeanor, Grant was clearly excited while talking about his produce. “Flavor is the paramount that I’m trying to achieve,” he said. “It’s really satisfying to me to have customers respond to that. I had a French guy last summer tell me that my tomatoes made him cry. He hadn’t had tomatoes that tasted like that since he was a kid.”
Grant credits his early interest in farming to his mother’s “really good vegetable garden.” When he was 18, he decided to explore his growing interest by approaching family friend and organic farmer Shu Takikawa. Takikawa agreed to become his mentor, but set some ground rules. He would not explain to Grant what to do, but he would answer any questions. This subtle approach meant Grant had to think about the process of organic farming before formulating his questions. Two years later, he had a strong grasp of the practice.
On a bicycle tour across the U.S., Grant fully realized his passion for farming. While cycling through hundreds of miles of corn and soybean crops in the Midwest, he came upon a farmer, also on a bicycle, and they struck up a conversation. “The catalyst moment was when the farmer said he doesn’t eat the corn that he grows because of the chemicals he used on it,” Grant remembered. “He said he can sleep at night because he believes his corn goes to the feed lot. A lot of it probably gets processed as well, and even the food lot is food. Right after I finished that bike trip is when I got back into hands-on farming.”
Although he farmed on and off for the next few years, it wasn’t until late 2002, when he rented a five-acre parcel, that Los Olivos Organic Roots was born. By putting in 10-hour days, six days a week, with part-time help during the summer, he was able to make enough to support himself the first year. Each year he added another acre until he was leasing a 15-acre plot with a barn. Last year was his largest expansion, when he added a 10-acre field, raising total acreage to 25 acres.