Founder Jim Cochran along with co-owners Sandy Brown, Adelfo Antonio, Juan Barranco, Bill Kennedy, Rachel Chatham, Jackie Olivares, Luis Ruiz, Tim Campion, and Tim Hudson. (Learn more about Swanton’s stock ownership plan here), and around 32 additional full-time and 25 seasonal workers.
Jim founded Swanton Berry Farm in 1983 with the goal of providing flavorful strawberries that were not grown at the expense of farm workers’ health or dignity. Over the years, Swanton has become an industry leader in developing organic methods for growing strawberries.
The two foundations of Swanton’s farming methods are soil building and crop diversity. They spend several years building up the soil before they plant strawberries and then rotate crops around the fields to control diseases and pests. Since 1987, researchers from the University of California at Santa Cruz have studied Swanton’s methods and reported them in various publications. While Swanton Berry Farm was once alone in the organic strawberry business, now more farmers have been encouraged to try. They are happy to share their experience in order to encourage other farmers to adopt organic methods.
Leases 80 acres in two locations in Santa Cruz County (approximately 80 miles to Ferry Plaza Farmers Market).
California Certified Organic Farmer (CCOF) since 1990
Forty acres of clay and 40 acres of sand are built with compost, cover crops, crop residues, and organic fertilizers.
Drip and sprinkler irrigation; one ranch gets water from the city and the other has a three-reservoir system.
Hand and mechanical cultivation; plastic mulch on the strawberries.
Release of beneficial insects and maintenance of their habitat, application of organic pesticides, field sanitation, crop rotation, selection of resistant varieties, and pheromone disruption for artichokes.
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 »