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Successful Organic Farmers

An EcoFarm tradition! Learn what these farmers do, why they do it, and what they’ve learned along the way.


Sally Fox

Viriditas Farm and Vreseis Limited, Brooks, CA

Sally Fox has been breeding and developing the market for naturally colored and organic cotton since 1981. Although organic cotton “ has caught on,” the task of reducing dye wastes by utilizing the naturally colored cottons has yet to materialize at a scale that will make a worldwide difference. By utilizing classical plant breeding on her CCOF-certified organic farm ( she has also been using biodynamic growing practices for decades), Sally continues to reduce pollutants on the farm, at the mill, and  against our skin. Since animals are a critical part of the biodynamic equation, she started raising sheep from a strain of very fine-wool merinos that had been organic since the mid 1980s. 
Her farming system has been further diversified with Sonora heirloom wheat, an annual landrace that has the root system of a perennial and produces quite flavorful grains, although there are very few of them compared to modern wheat varieties. Sally intercrops her cotton breeding plots with black-eyed peas, milo, and lots of other fun plants, always enjoying what happens when the plants put on a party and she gets to attend as matchmaker.

Teresa Kurtak, John Vars, and Mike Irving

Fifth Crow Farm, Pescadero, CA

Grounded in a values-based approach to land stewardship, Fifth Crow Farm is a dynamic and diversified organic farm in Pescadero. The farm is owned by partners John Vars, Mike Irving, and Teresa Kurtak, and operates on 80 acres, including 30 acres of row crops, a 24-variety apple orchard, a young pear orchard, and a pastured egg operation consisting of 2 flocks of 350 beautiful ladies—all heritage breeds. Primarily a market farm that sells to farmers’ markets and restaurants in San Francisco and San Mateo County, Fifth Crow  maintains a 200-member CSA, and is certified organic by CCOF John, Mike, and Teresa met at and graduated from the UCSC Farm & Garden program. They founded the farm in 2008 with a shoestring budget, a supportive local community, and ambitious dreams. They strive to bring eaters the highest quality, best tasting, and most nutritious food possible. 

Peter Martinelli

Fresh Run Farm, Bolinas, CA

A native of Marin County, Peter Martinelli founded Fresh Run Farm on his grandmother’s ranch over 20 years ago. Fresh Run Farm is a series of small market gardens located on Paradise Valley Ranch, about 2 miles north of Bolinas, CA. Although the ranch is primarily steep and forested, the 25-acre valley is carpeted with a dark loamy soil. Fresh Run Farm produces over 40 varieties of organic vegetables, fruit, and flowers, selling to Bay Area restaurants, retailers, and farmers’ markets. Over the years Peter has developed a crop system with a focus on naturalizing heirloom varieties to the farm through seed saving. The farm is certified through Marin Organic Certified Agriculture (MOCA). Outside of farming, Peter devotes his efforts to protecting endangered species that traverse the property, and to various causes related to organic and small-scale agriculture. Currently Peter sits on the board of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, where he is stewardship chair, and the Marin County Farm Bureau, where he is co-chair of the land-use committee.  

Track and Session Info

Keynote | 7:45 am

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