Know your farmer: Flying V Farm
Flying V Farm, a new worker-owned organic farm in Placerville, took its name from the V-shaped flight pattern of migrating birds. And, like birds that fly together with a single mind, the four experienced, first-generation farmers are committed to working together in harmony towards a common goal.
They currently farm two acres of annual vegetables and flowers (green onions, parsley, spinach, lettuce, snap peas, tomatoes, peppers, melons, squash, and more) and ten acres of perennial fruits (apples and table grapes), selling to BriarPatch and other local markets and co-ops.
The idea for the farm was first hatched in the winter of 2015 in the earnest belief that workers should own and operate the business that they are committed to. Groundbreaking on a beautiful piece of land in the Sierra Foothills occurred two years later, in February 2018.
Between them, the four member-owners, Grayson Curtis, Cody Curtis, Brenna Lanton, and Lucy O’Dea, have over twenty years of farming experience. Lucy says, “four brains are better than one,” and each member works with a different area of expertise: perennials, propagation and weed control, field prep and irrigation, and harvest and sales.
At their weekly meetings, they plan the labor flow of the week, and at their monthly meetings they review finances, reflect on the previous month, and plan for upcoming ones. But days are spent like those of farmers from the beginning of time: irrigating, weeding, harvesting, building, seeding, digging, rehabilitating forgotten spaces, and reaching out to customers.
To help bring their vision to light, the four members turned to the generous local cooperative community for support. Says co-owner Lucy, “There’s no need to reinvent the wheel; people have been working cooperatively for a long time.” The California Center for Cooperative Development, California FarmLink, Sierra Harvest, BriarPatch Food Co-op, the Sustainable Economies Law Center, a group of farming mentors, as well as the owners of their land, all helped Flying V to open its wings and “take flight.”
Now focused on its first incredible year, Flying V Farm hopes to get its farm stand open in time for Placerville’s busy agri-tourism season that kicks off on Labor Day. Passionate about cultivating a farming model that empowers workers and nourishes the community with healthy organic fruit, vegetables, and flowers, the dedicated members of Flying V Farm find themselves continually “scheming and dreaming about how to be better at
what we do.”