Howard and Polly McGinnis, along with 6 seasonal workers.
17.5 acres in Watsonville, about 99 miles from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
Howard started farming in the early 1960s and grew his operation slowly until he began farming full-time in 1972. He sells almost all of his products directly to consumers through farmers markets, and picks and packs all of his offerings the day before the market. He is continually searching for and growing new and improved plant varieties so he can provide top-quality produce for customers. Any leftover food is donated to a food bank, and leftover flowers are taken to a senior center.
The soil on Howard’s farm is very sandy. He builds his soil with a combination of commercial fertilizer and mushroom compost.
Mostly drip irrigation, and some sprinkler irrigation from the 2 deep wells on the farm.
As much as possible, Howard controls his weeds with hand and machine cultivation, and burning with a propane torch. He does use some herbicides as well.
Howard uses an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach that includes beneficial insects, crop rotation and some pesticides. All of his produce is pesticide free.
McGinnis Ranch is steep: it sits on a 12% grade. The harder it rains, the less fun it is for Howard, who sometimes spends days replacing soil that has washed down the hill. But the grade allows maximum sun exposure and extends the farm’s season significantly.
Listen and Learn
CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of farmers markets and educational programs. Learn More »