John Muir Ranch in Pasadena, Calif., has only been in full operation since 2011, but during the past two years, the once small, test garden has grown into a large, vegetable and flower producing farm.
The Ranch resides at the John Muir High School campus. When Doss Jones, former biology teacher, master gardener and founder of Muir Ranch, planted the Ranch’s first plot, she only used it as a learning garden for one of the high school’s elective courses. “It was six rows. [At the time,] she was working with another master gardener and they had a little bit of grant money to try and build a curriculum, but the money, after two years, it was gone. They couldn’t really do much more with the garden [at the time],” Erika Redke, former CSA manager at Muir Ranch, said.
Alex McPhail and Casey McAuliffe founded Moon Dog Farms, in Santa Fe, Texas, in January 2013. Since arriving at the farm, McAuliffe and McPhail have worked quite hard – the farm’s land hadn’t been touched in years.
Although the co-owners were originally from Texas, the two left the state a few years ago to work various jobs at small, organic farms. At first, McAuliffe and McPhail worked on an organic farm in upstate New York. While the farmers were in New York, McPhail’s family approached the duo about buying some land his family owned. “They told us they had a plot of land [that had] essentially been neglected for the past 15 years,” McAuliffe said.
Appleton Farms of Ipswich, Mass. is the nation’s oldest continually operating farm. Nine generations of Appleton’s have farmed the land since 1636. In 1998, the family donated the farm’s 1000 acres of farmland, pasture, and woodlands to The Trustees of Reservations, a non-profit land conservation organization that manages over 26,000 acres of land in 75 communities throughout Massachusetts.
“When we took over Appleton Farms from the family in 1998, the goal was not to compete with current farming operations, but to help support the momentum for local, healthy food and engaging the community and the public in a way to get people involved in land,” said Holly Hannaway, a spokesperson for Appleton Farms and The Trustees of Reservations.
Today, Appleton Farms supports a 550-share Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program, donates 10,000 pounds of food annually to local food pantries, trains farming apprentices to be able to establish their own farms, manages a year round dairy store, offers farm-to-table dinners and cooking workshops for kids and adults and maintains 12 miles of trail for recreational use.
Portland, Oregon’s Zenger Farm is striving to be a national model for urban, sustainable agriculture education while meeting the needs of people in its backyard: the low-income neighborhoods of Lents and Powelhurst-Gilbert.
The urban farm works to provide sustainable food and agriculture education, food access, and support for emerging food businesses in the area.
Though the farm is not currently certified, plans are underway to pursue organic certification within the next year, according to Sara Cogan, Farm Manager for Zenger Farms. Sustainable agriculture methods used on the farm includes drip irrigation, strict avoidance of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and creation of habitat to support diverse populations of beneficial insects.
Paul Magedson, owner of 175-acre Good Earth Organic Farm in Hunt County, near Celeste, Texas, is hopeful that his organic farm will be profitable enough that his now 13-year-old son, Andrew, and 15-year-old son, William, will want to carry on the tradition.
“There’s so much to put into organic farming, and generally speaking, people don’t realize the important difference between eating large-scale commercially grown products and organically-certified products,” Magedson says.
Magedson, 67, who has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, bought his farm outright 30 years ago after selling several homes in Dallas and profiting from a former contracting and tropical plant maintenance businesses.