Five Farms: California

Peach trees in bloom, Main Family Farm, Good Humus Produce, Capay, California. Photograph by Alix Lowrey Blair.

Peach trees in bloom, Main Family Farm, Good Humus Produce, Capay, California. Photograph by Alix Lowrey Blair.

Five Farms: Stories of American Farm Families
Capay, California
Photographs by Alix Lowrey Blair

Five Farms is a new radio series, multimedia Web site, and exhibition at CDS. Listen to the radio documentaries and view the related photo essays on the Five Farms web site.

CDS Porch will feature excerpts from each of the five farm locations weekly. This week’s feature is on Jeff and Annie Main’s farm in Capay, California.

Good Humus Produce is a certified organic farm owned and run by Jeff and Annie Main along with a small crew of employees. Jeff and Annie raised three children on the farm: Zach, Alison, and Claire. The Mains started farming on rented land in 1976, shortly after their graduation from University of California at Davis. They bought their 20-acre farm in 1983. On their farm, located near Capay, California, about an hour northwest of Sacramento, they grow about 60 different fruits and vegetables, as well as herbs and flowers. They deliver to farmers markets, to area subscribers through a program known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and to wholesalers in the Bay Area.

Sustaining the land is Jeff and Annie’s top priority. They’ve poured more than 30 years of their lives into their farm, and don’t want to see it disappear or get paved over. To that end, they’ve been working on an agricultural easement. Under its provisions, a publicly funded land trust will purchase the property at its nonagricultural value, and legally binding restrictions will be placed on the farm’s deed, with terms set by Annie and Jeff. The land would be kept in active farming use, farmed with environmentally responsible methods, and evaluated solely on the basis of its agricultural value in setting any future resale price.

The Mains frequently open up Good Humus to the public, hoping to teach the rest of the community about farming — and perhaps to inspire future farmers. They invite second- and third-grade students to the farm for treasure hunts, host a group of inner-city youths for several days each year, and host a Peach Festival every summer. On any given day, visitors may find they’re not the only ones interested in what goes on at Good Humus.

Francisco Montes harvesting quince, Main Family Farm, Good Humus Produce, Capay, California. Photograph by Alix Lowrey Blair.

Francisco Montes harvesting quince, Main Family Farm, Good Humus Produce, Capay, California. Photograph by Alix Lowrey Blair.

Employee Celia Rivera washing mixed greens, Main Family Farm, Good Humus Produce, Capay, California.

Employee Celia Rivera washing mixed greens, Main Family Farm, Good Humus Produce, Capay, California. Photograph by Alix Lowrey Blair.

Francisco Montes on a ladder harvesting apricots, Main Family Farm, Good Humus Produce, Capay, California.

Francisco Montes on a ladder harvesting apricots, Main Family Farm, Good Humus Produce, Capay, California. Photograph by Alix Lowrey Blair.

Jeff Main pauses for a break in the shade, Main Family Farm, Good Humus Produce, Capay, California.

Jeff Main pauses for a break in the shade, Main Family Farm, Good Humus Produce, Capay, California. Photograph by Alix Lowrey Blair.

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