Happy harvest season! This month, we're celebrating the men and women who work hard every day to bring fresh food to the dinner table, our local farmers! Meet Dick Peixoto, owner and grower of Lakeside Organic Gardens, the largest family-owned and operated organic vegetable grower in the United States. Lakeside Organic Gardens, located in central California, produces over 45 organic vegetables on nearly 2,000 acres of land! Below Farmer Dick (shown above with a head of delicious leafy greens) shares what inspired him to become a farmer, the daily challenges of life on the farm, and tips for home gardeners just starting out in this informative Q&A!
Q. What inspired you to become a farmer?
A. My dad was a pesticide salesman and I would go to work with him any chance I got to learn about farming and figure out how it’s done. I started farming tomatoes in high school and took them to the farmers market. In 1996, I decided to convert my farms to organic because I saw it as a fun challenge and felt it was the right thing to do. Now my team and I grow over 45 different organic vegetables year-round.
Q. What is the hardest thing about being a farmer?
A. Forecasting what may happen in the future. It’s my job to predict the weather and anticipate pest and disease pressures in the field. It’s also tough to guess what products will be popular and when.
Q. What time do you wake up in the morning? Go to bed?
A. Our work day starts at 6am. I’m often up as early as 4am to prepare for the morning meeting with my operations team. I go to bed when I can, sometimes at 10, sometimes midnight, it just depends on what’s going on each day.
Q. Any tips to share with home gardeners just starting out?
A. Use mother nature to help you. For every harmful insect, there’s a beneficial predator out there. Plant beneficial flowers to attract the good bugs and make your garden more attractive than the neighbors so they stick around.
A huge thanks to Farmer Dick and team for working hard to make sure we have fresh, whole, and pesticide free food year round. In part, here's a seasonal recipe to sweeten up your morning! Happy cooking!
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