Get to know our growers
“We love growing organic fruit. I just feel it’s best for people to eat, you just don’t have the residue of more harmful chemicals. It makes us feel good, growing organic fruit.”
Agustin Cardenas will tell you, “When life presents you opportunities, it’s important to be ready.” He credits the opportunities he was presented with early in his life for leading him to a career and passion for farming.
“I had an opportunity to lease some land about 16 years ago, and I don’t know why, honestly, but the love just keeps growing,” Agustin said about his start in farming, “So, that’s why we do what we do.”
Agustin started working in the field as a teenager when he moved from Mexico to the United States in 1984. While working full-time on his employer’s ranch, he got his degree in accounting, and years later, the opportunity arose to lease and then buy the ranch where he worked when his employer retired.
His passion for growing was blooming, but the farm’s finances weren’t for many years, until Agustin found a niche in the organic market. Going organic saved his farm. Agustin is currently growing stone fruit and citrus for Homegrown, and also grows blueberries, persimmons and apples.
“Organic is totally different, we use different methods for controlling pests. You learn to work without any herbicides—you have to get used to seeing a lot of weeds, a lot of grass, but that’s not that bad, we can work around it. We love growing organic fruit. I just feel it’s best for people to eat, you just don’t have the residue of more harmful chemicals. It makes us feel good, growing organic fruit,” Agustin said.
Owning his own farm, and farming full time was outside of anything Agustin would have imagined when he began in agriculture. The farm has provided a way for the family to come together. His wife Maricela takes care of the administrative work, three of his siblings are partners in the farm, and his father continues to do the farming with him.
“Now I have bigger dreams, now we can dream a lot higher, we want to have every square inch of this land producing something,” Agustin said about the future of Cardenas Ranch.
The Peterson Family
“We’ve been farming for over 30 years… we all pitched in. That’s just how family farming works.”
Stroll onto the Peterson Family Farm in Kingsburg, CA and you’ll feel the song of work, the buzz of farm activity, the tractor rolling through the rows, and a melody… a bit of an old hymn, sung by owner, Vernon Peterson, as he moves about his ranch. If there is a man that is characterized by a musical note, a beaming smile, and an open heart, it’s Vernon Peterson. Him and his wife, Carol, plus their kids Erik and Heather, from the Peterson Family Farm.
Proud of their Swedish heritage, the Peterson’s have owned and farmed this land for many, many years.
“In four generations we’ve only moved a quarter of a mile,” Vernon declares, a large smile spreading across his face as he gazes out at his orchard. “I’ve been farming for thirty-one years; I started at age five, out in the field, grading cannery peaches, across the street from where I live now. My dad farmed tree fruit, grapes, and chickens. We all pitched in. That’s just how a family farm works. I never thought of my dad as having a different occupation from me! We all just worked the farm. Dad allowed us boys to work, make mistakes, and learn from them. From him I learned so much, but, mostly, he was a genuine man. He loved life and loved to help people. In fact, in a nutshell, that’s what we do on this farm today.”
Vernon farms a variety of organic tree fruit including peaches, plums, nectarines and even persimmons for your holiday celebrations. In addition to the abundant organic tree fruit available throughout the summer, the Peterson Family also raises organic chickens for market. As Vernon says, “It helps when we can use our own chicken manure as fertilizer on our fields. It’s a great relationship.”
The joyful music of farm work only continues to hum on as Vernon and his family keep on growing fruit and helping people through the hard work they put in on their farm and in their lives, and persist in taking joy in each day as they use organics to help enrich the world around them, be it through fruit or through people, in whatever way they can.