Father-daughter team Dennis, Sam, and Mary Elston, along with 1 seasonal helper.
100 acres and 2 greenhouses (100’ by 30’ and 120’ by 30’) in San Miguel, approximately 235 miles to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
Dennis and his wife, Gaylo, built their first greenhouse in 1997 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’s off-the-farm job in construction, because the majority of their season takes place during the winter months. They plant in October and end in late May. The Elstons’ greenhouses are heated with propane when it is cold, and cooled with electric fans and cooling pads when it is warm.
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. In the 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.
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.
Neither Mary nor Dennis eats tomatoes!
San Miguel, California
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