Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Start of Knoll Farms, in Kristie's Words

Basically, I grew up in Southeast Texas from the time I was zero until 11. Then from the time I was 11 to 19 I lived in Orange County, California....I basically lived in Orange County ‘til we moved – ‘ til Rick and I moved up here in ’79.

We thought it would be kinda cool to live in the Bay Area. We were dying to get out of LA, Orange County. We both came from garden backgrounds. I grew up with a big garden in Texas and Rick had a big garden in Norwalk where he grew up. We decided we both wanted to eat healthy. We had a nice backyard garden. Our whole backyard was garden. Then when we had the opportunity to move up here we had the idea to buy a 1-acre place with a nice house. We looked at some properties and they were way over what we wanted to pay and this was way over what we wanted to pay. 10 acres of alfalfa, that’s it and one building. We actually became farmers as soon as we moved here.

When we moved onto this property, we had 3 mortgages. The little garden that we planted and the alfalfa that we were growing were our pocket money. I got a job as an inventory clerk at the John Deere dealer. I wanna say we farmed the alfalfa another year. In the early winter of ’81, we decided to plant the fruit trees. We figured if we could eat fruit for as long as we could, we’d be happy. So we planted 9 different varieties of cherries, 3 different varieties of apricots, 2 different plums , 9 peaches, 9 nectarines, 3 figs, 3 pears. Each variety was a 200 foot row. Right around 600 fruit trees. And we had part of the property out back. So in the summer we decided we wanted to plant melons, Crenshaw melons into ground that had been alfalfa, they were to die for.

By January, we were out of money.

We tried for several years to make the money last all year but we couldn’t. We had to farm. If we were going to farm we needed something to keep us going year round.

We weren’t like the other people around here. We didn’t come from a farming family didn’t have it in our blood. So he thought that having a degree would give him more credibility. Planting the 600 fruit trees made it a little more than a garden. The 600 fruit trees was insane. Other than providence taking its course, you know, maybe we were supposed to be here. It wasn’t really anything that we planned. Except for the thing when I said, we’re gonna have to have income year round: leafy greens and stuff. Then he got the bright idea.. planted garlic in the fall.... He decided he would make it a product. He started planting it in beds. We were gonna haul ‘em all out of the ground and sell ‘em when we needed the money. We knew nothing really when we started doing this, it’s amazing.

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