Summer is at its peak and all the farmers are working hard to harvest all the delicious veggies from their fields, like the three amazing farmers at Brisa Ranch. We had the pleasure to speak to Cole who took the time to answer a few questions for this month’s Membership Spotlight! We asked Cole why they decided to become CAFF members, and he said, “I find that for farming to become more viable, it is critical that farmers band together in a number of ways. CAFF is a vehicle for that banding together, particularly in regards to taking the sort of legislative action that farmers need.” We couldn’t agree more with Cole. We are stronger together!
Cristóbal Cruz Hernández has been farming in the Pescadero area for thirty years since immigrating here from Oaxaca. When he first moved here thirty years ago, he worked on a brussels sprout and artichoke farm on the same land that we now lease as Brisa Ranch. Before Brisa, he was a Co-Farm Manger and later Specialist at Pie Ranch.
Verónica Mazariegos-Anastassiou has been involved in agriculture in multiple facets, from being involved in rice farming operations as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa to earning a Masters in Applied Economics and Management focusing on Food & Agriculture from Cornell University. She was an apprentice at Pie Ranch in 2016, and then the Farm Operations & Sales Manager. She is a member of the CA Farmer Justice Collaborative Farmer Governance Committee.
After being an apprentice at Pie Ranch in 2015, Cole Mazariegos-Anastassiou served as the farm manager at Green Oaks Creek Farm (a small, diversified, certified-organic farm in Pescadero) from 2016 – 2018. In addition to his experiences growing produce, he also has extensive experience working with animals, something Brisa plans to eventually add to its operations.
What are you most proud of as a farmer?
“I’m most proud of the stewardship of the land we care for. When I dig up a fistful of soil and see the improvements we have made in our soil since we started farming the field, it brings me a sense of pride.”
What’s your greatest challenge as a farmer?
“Land tenureship is my greatest challenge, and I think it the greatest challenge facing many young farmers. While accessing land to lease can be a challenge for young farmers like myself, I feel the much greater challenge is developing tenureship on that land – where you have the security to know that you will be there long enough (by owning or through a long-term lease) to make it worth investing in the soil, infrastructure, etc.”
If the average consumer could know one thing about farming, what would it be?
“I think the average consumer should know that food prices have dramatically decreased relative to inflation compared to everything else over the last century, and that decrease has been at the expense of farmers. I think an understanding of how little of a consumer’s income goes to food (even with more people eating out these days) relative to what it was a century ago would force consumers to rethink cheap food.”
If you had to choose a favorite veggie, which one would it be?
“I love growing dry-farmed heirloom tomatoes. There is an artistry to growing these that can only be attempted to master through experience and willingness to tinker.”