Know your farmer
Ever wonder who’s growing or raising that incredible food at BriarPatch? They’re a lot like us—people with families and busy lives who value fresh, healthy food… so that’s why we thought we’d help “put a face to the farm” by featuring them here in The Vine.
Meet Javier Zamora of JSM Organics in Aromas, California. Javier came to the United States in 1986 and now owns a 200-acre ranch, 80 acres of which is currently being farmed with the 20 workers he employs—talk about living the American dream! JSM Organics is one of the few farms outside of our regional boundary that BriarPatch looks to for high volumes of quality, seasonal, organic strawberries and off-season flowers. In order to meet our owner-shopper demand for strawberries, Javier must deliver so many flats at a time that when they’re stacked in the storage walk-in area, they form three to four gigantic towers that reach from floor to ceiling!
Earlier this year, we were fortunate enough to catch up with Javier during the 2017 Food and Farm Conference in Grass Valley, where we got to know a little more about his life on the farm. Enjoy!
BriarPatch: What do you grow on your farm?
Javier: Strawberries, vegetables, and organic flowers—all certified organic.
BP: If we opened the doors to your barn, what would we see?
Javier: A tractor, a bunch of different boxes… things that we’ll need in early spring to start harvesting strawberries, including some organic fertilizers.
BP: What do you drive?
Javier: A truck—it’s a Chevy Silverado. Right now I’m driving a delivery truck but it’s a Ford with a camper shell on it. I just purchased a tractor. It’s a Kubota because those are really good for strawberries. They do really well because we farm on a hill so we don’t want to get anything that will turn over and possibly injure somebody.
BP: Who’s your best animal ranch hand?
Javier: Unfortunately, I cannot have any animals because I’m an organic guy and I’m certified. I have a dog but I cannot bring it to the field. I’m limited. I do have a few chickens but they have to stay away from where the strawberries are.
BP: If we were to come to your house, what would we find in the fridge?
Javier: Wow… you’ll find a lot of vegetables. In the freezer you’ll find English peas, sweet peas that were frozen from the last season… a lot of strawberries that are frozen because right now we have no strawberries but we still like them. You’ll find blackberries and raspberries… and then in the other section you’ll find a lot of vegetables, a couple of Coronas, and that’s about it.
BP: What’s the best season at your farm?
Javier: Any time is a good time. But I think the time to go to the farm might be, like, between summer and fall… because there’s still a lot of strawberries and a lot of flowers. Spring is beautiful; summertime is the best but you know… any time for me is a beautiful time to come to the farm.
BP: At 5 O’clock is it Sierra Nevada time or tea time?
Javier: No, I don’t play golf and I don’t really drink that much either, so… no, for me it’s still work hours. We don’t really go to bed until probably 11:00 or 11:30 p.m., and we get up at 5:00 a.m.
BP: What’s a fun fact about your farm?
Javier: Just that it’s a good experience to have customers come out, walk the fields, pick some strawberries, cut their own flowers, and see how beautiful the Monterey County hills are. It’s a really beautiful experience. For me as a grower, it’s a beautiful experience to see the customers’ faces when they walk around where their food comes from.