Joe Schirmer along with 5 full-time and 20 seasonal workers.
25 acres in Santa Cruz and La Selva Beach, about 90 miles from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
In 1997, Joe Schirmer began working for Dirty Girl Produce and 2 years later took the helm from the original “dirty girls” who started the farm in 1995. Joe graduated from the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden apprenticeship program with a certificate in ecological horticulture. Inspired by the French Intensive gardening method, he has adapted tractor farming to incorporate its principles.
California Certified Organic Farmer since 1995
Dirty Girl Produce is endowed with a deep, rich sandy loam that has the texture of chocolate cake. The addition of compost and manures (chicken, dairy, and horse), and the use of cover crops maintains soil fertility and porosity.
Overhead and drip irrigation.
Hoe and tractor cultivation, hand weeding, propane flame weeder.
“Treating the soil as though it were an organism with an immune system,” Joe says, “makes it healthy.” As a result, pest problems are relatively rare. Row covers are used to shield against occasional aphid or flea beetle visitations.
Dirty Girl Produce is famous for their dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes. This waterless method of growing sometimes yields only a third of as many tomatoes, but the resulting fruits are dense with flavor.
Santa Cruz, California
Swanton Berry Farm was the first strawberry farm (and the first organic farm) in the U.S. to sign a contract with the United Farm Workers of America/AFL-CIO. In 2006, the farm began offering an Employee Stock Ownership Plan to employees, the first such program in production agriculture in the U.S.
CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and its educational programs. Learn More »