Know your farmer
Meet Ken and Aleta Barrett of Starbright Acres Family Farm,
located at 12575 Polaris Drive in Grass Valley
In 2010, Ken and Aleta and their two children, Xea and Sam, moved to Grass Valley to start a small urban farm. They had no farming experience, but did have a burning passion to start a profitable and ecologically sustainable farm. Backing up that passion with real commitment, they now farm on 3.2 acres they call Starbright Acres, one acre of which is in cultivation.
You may have seen the family around town, since they sell their produce at local farmers markets in Grass Valley and Nevada City. They also sell to various local restaurants, the Nevada County Food Hub, the Tahoe Food Hub, and of course, BriarPatch. While many farmers have a more narrow focus, Ken and Aleta grow a wide variety of more than twenty crops.
Some of the Starbright produce you can find at BriarPatch includes radishes, turnips, dill, cippolini onions, ground cherries, Anaheim peppers, and tomatillos. Their favorite crop is peppers, which they grow hot, and for those with tamer palates, mercifully sweet. Their most productive crops this year are the cucurbits, which if you didn’t know, means squash and cucumbers. Their most unique crop is ground cherries, which are like tiny garden candies that grow in their own wrapper! Some people say they taste a bit like a sweet, tropical cherry tomato, others say they’re nutty, and still others that they taste like pineapple.
In 2016 Starbright Acres became certified organic through CCOF. Ken and Aleta are also proud to be 90% solar-powered.
They are very involved in the agricultural community, and serve on the Board of Directors of Nevada County Grown and the Nevada County Certified Growers Market. As farm partners with a number of schools through Sierra Harvest, they enjoy hosting field trips and tours of their farm to educate both young and old about the merits and joys of sustainable farming. In recognition for their good work, Sierra Harvest named them Farm Partner of the Year for the 2016-17 school year.
Since the beginning, when he dug the beds with a shovel, Ken has worked on the farm full-time. Aleta began working part-time, and with their continuing success has recently moved to full-time. The operation also relies on the good labor of three dedicated farm workers. Taryn Darrow, who has been Ken’s right-hand man for three years, works more than full-time to keep the farm running smoothly. Aaron Calhoun, now in his second year at the farm, keeps the team positive, happy and productive. And Brianna Abundiz, who is a new member of the team, most definitely fits the job requirement that one “must be cool.”
The Starbright team looks forward to a productive and profitable rest of the year, and thanks BriarPatch for its encouragement, as well as the excellent crop planning it does in support of local farms. They also thank you, our readers and shoppers, for choosing their most excellent produce.