Elston Family Farm
100 acres and 2 greenhouses (100' by 30' and 120' by 30') in San Miguel, CA, approximately 235 miles to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
Dennis, Sam and Mary Elston
Dennis and Gaylo bought the farm in 1971 and started farming alfalfa. When the price of water became too expensive they took a break from agriculture and leased their land to other farmers. When Dennis' nephew became interested in greenhouses, the Elstons decided to try it on their own land and built their first greenhouse in 1997. Growing in greenhouses works well with Dennis' off-the-farm job in construction as the majority of the season takes place during the winter months. They plant in October and end in late May.
The greenhouse plastic lasts for 3 years when it is torn down and cut into strips to be used on field crops for frost protection. It is then sent to the city dump. The greenhouses are heated with propane during the winter months and cooled with electrically run fans and cooling pads.
Organic pesticides are used and beneficial insects are released inside greenhouses and outside on fields. Diatomaceous earth is also spread onto fields to prevent aphids. Diseased plants are removed by hand to prevent spread of disease.
Varied soil composition. Crop rotation is used so that plants grow in new ground every year. Cover crops and organic fertilizers such as bat guano are used to build up soil. Greenhouses: Tomatoes and cucumbers are grown in plastic bags filled with soil.
On-site wells and drip irrigation.
Hand weeding in the greenhouses. Machine cultivation in the fields.