Nourishing Solano County: A Collaborative Vision for Medically Tailored Meals

By Noah Galgan, Program Manager

Stakeholders meet to discuss how medically tailored meals could work in Solano County

In an era where the healthcare landscape is constantly evolving, the concept of “food as medicine” is gaining traction. The notion that the right diet can be pivotal in preventing and managing chronic illnesses is a scientifically proven fact. A group of Solano County stakeholders is bringing this knowledge to bear on an exciting journey to nourish health through medically tailored meals (MTM).

At its core, an MTM initiative in Solano County revolves around the idea that providing individuals with carefully crafted, nutritionally sound meals can have a profound impact on their well-being and support recovery from serious illnesses. These meals are not just about sustenance; they are about empowerment, about offering individuals the tools they need to take control of their health.

MTM initiatives are gaining traction all over the United States. We have seen many great examples of what MTM could look like through the dedicated work of groups such as the Food is Medicine Coalition. The coalition is an association of nonprofit medically tailored food and nutrition service providers that supports research-based interventions, advances public policy, promotes efficacy research for nutrition services, and shares best practices in providing medically tailored meals. This provided a foundation to build upon, and this is where we started the conversation in Solano County. The Solano Local Food System Alliance hosted an insightful educational panel on medically tailored meals back in February, with speakers from the Ceres Community Project and Project Open Hand. From this panel, the Solano MTM initiative gained a foundational understanding of what medically tailored meals are and opened the door for further discussion.

Solano County Ecosystem of Care

A medically tailored meals program has yet to be fully established in the county, but initiatives are already underway. A diverse group of stakeholders from various sectors have rallied together, all driven by a shared vision. In late April, the group came together to discuss the vision of an ecosystem of care. We realized it is not just about the healthcare providers or the chefs creating the meals — it’s about everyone coming together, recognizing the vital role they can play in this ecosystem, and understanding that they collectively have the power to make an impact. We also realized how complex the legal and logistical framework is for this vision, since it involves insurance, patient privacy, strict healthcare regulations, ingredient sourcing, meal production and delivery, and supporting services. Some of the community stakeholders that have joined the initiative so far are listed below.

  • Healthcare Providers and Administration
    • Solano County Public Health
    • Touro University
  • Culinary Experts, Chefs, and Meal Providers
    • Meals on Wheels Solano County
    • Thistle
  • Local Farmers, Food Suppliers, and Transportation
    • Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano
    • Food is Free Bay Area 
  • Collaboration, Coordination, and Policy
    • Sustainable Solano
    • Innovative Health Solutions
    • Solano Local Food System Alliance (Includes a wide variety of stakeholders committed to fulfilling the mission of creating an environmentally sustainable, economically viable, socially just and equitable local food system in Solano County. Many of these MTM stakeholders are also Alliance members)
    • The Food Agriculture and Nutrition Network of Solano County (FANNS)

Ecosystem Updates

Thistle – President Shiri Avnery said Thistle is beginning a fourth round of producing medically tailored meals in partnership with Kaiser Permanente for an MTM pilot study. The pilots are a 12-week whole-person care model that seeks to include wrap-around services such as nutrition consults and regular wellness check-ins. Thistle is interested in continuing to be a local meal provider for MTM and would like to participate in more pilot studies to help with development and collaboration for the logistics of an MTM program. One area of discussion is navigating the higher price points of Thistle meals that aim to be whole-food, plant-based meals from California growers. There is an opportunity for meal delivery outsourcing within the county as this would help reduce costs per meal for patients. Also, is there potential for a patient-selected tiered pricing model, where patients can choose a standard plan (covered by insurance) or premium plan (an added cost per meal beyond what insurance would cover). Cultural preferences for MTM is a tension point, and some recipients who are not used to a plant-based diet may find these meals unappealing.

Meals on Wheels Solano County – Executive Director Laurie Hartmann offered an exciting update on a local and state level regarding Meals on Wheels. MOWSC has been in the process of building a new production facility and is ready to break ground after acquiring all necessary funding. The new facility will be on Union Avenue in Fairfield, and scheduled for completion in spring 2024. With this new facility, they intend to include a small-scale commercial kitchen for use by community partners, such as Sustainable Solano for youth culinary instruction. On a much larger scale, Laurie shared about the upcoming work of Meals on Wheels California in the MTM space. MOWCA hosted a learning collaborative with all MOW program directors around MTM initiatives. There is a high probability MOWCA could become a one-stop-shop MTM wraparound service provider for healthcare providers and would potentially distribute administrative roles to leading regional agencies such as Solano County (NorCal Lead). This effort within the MTM space could start as early fall 2024.

Innovative Health Solutions (IHS) – Founding CEO and CFO Norma Lisenko shared an update on the work IHS has been doing and will be doing in the coming months around medically tailored meals. The team is currently wrapping up a 12-week MTM pilot with La Clinica Vallejo, which provided 50 community participants with weekly ready-made meals made by Provisions. While we look forward to the final report from this pilot toward the end of this year, Norma shared the importance of access to culturally relevant prepared foods. All the hard work that goes into a meal to be carefully prepared and transported can end up going to waste if people don’t like the food they are eating. IHS is set to receive additional funding through the Solano County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) to further its MTM efforts over the coming months through a 12-week pilot program focused on maternal health.

Food is Free Bay Area – Through the work of Heather Pierini and Alma Munoz, FIFBA has participated in two separate MTM pilots for IHS. FIFBA actively participated in both pilots in a transportation provider role for MTM meals and grocery boxes. The first pilot was the 12-week program at La Clinica Vallejo for 50 participants: the team provided distribution of refrigerated meals prepared by Provisions and custom weekly grocery boxes to the La Clinica Vallejo distribution site. The second IHS pilot is a 12-week MTM program with Partnership HealthPlan of California, in which ready-made meals were picked up from Thistle and delivered to participants’ homes twice a week, alongside packed grocery boxes. Heather shared that the biggest hurdle in these pilots was creating the necessary logistical infrastructure, including a delivery/logistics app for drivers, a food safety program through the FDA recommendations, food storage/movement equipment for the bagged/boxed foods, limitations of eco-friendly packaging (compostable cardboard packaging was not sturdy enough for participants to carry home). She also shared about their efforts to find a better participant-tracking system for participant meal selection, allergies, and delivery weeks.

Sustainable Solano – Sustainable Solano continues supporting the foundation for medically tailored meals in Solano County through stakeholder meetings and creating an action plan. Sustainable Solano will continue the collaborative work to form an ecosystem of care amidst community stakeholders and clarify roles of each stakeholder in the emerging vision.  Besides the ecosystem’s coordination role, Sustainable Solano sees its participation in the MTM vision through public education programs, especially targeting youth, which can help prevent diet-related illnesses in the future. They continue their public education efforts through monthly cooking classes focused on healthy local food and are set to receive funding under the Solano County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) for three youth wellness internship cohorts. These internships aim to educate Solano County youth about health and wellness through culinary and garden exploration.

Food for Thought

The beauty of collaborative efforts lies not only in celebrating successes but also in collectively addressing the challenges encountered along the way. We have discovered some thought-provoking areas that merit thoughtful consideration:

  • Exploration of the healthcare administration role (HIPPA compliance for patient records, billing, etc.) and capability to operate in the role.
  • How to generate access to additional pilot programs that foster collaboration and open feedback loops through diverse funding channels.
  • Exploration of providing health-forward meals that honor diverse cultural palates.

    These topics will likely be central to an upcoming virtual collaborative meeting around MTM in early January, as well as other topics offered by the partners working together on this process. We invite those interested who see a role for their organizations in these efforts to  reach out to Noah Galgan at to share more about your interest and what you can contribute to the conversation.

    A Step in the Right Direction

    This is just the beginning of fostering an ecosystem of care in Solano County. We are beyond excited to continue in this work and advocate for community-based collaborations for the good of the whole. Each community stakeholder brings a unique perspective and a passionate commitment to this initiative, and together, they are forging a path toward a healthier future for Solano County.


    CSA Farm Spotlight: Wilkinson Acres

    By Sustainable Solano

    This is an ongoing series profiling local farms that have Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) available in Solano County. CSAs create a way for community members to buy a share of the harvest directly from local farmers. Customers pay a set amount and receive a box of seasonal produce or other farm products in return. Such arrangements help farmers receive a greater share of the money paid, bring customers fresh, local produce and promote health, community and the local economy.

    Mike and Courtney Wilkinson of Wilkinson Acres

    Mike and Courtney Wilkinson started thinking about their future together after they were married — and what they really wanted to do with their lives.

    “After a lot of discussion, we decided what we wanted more than anything was a lifestyle — one in which we could provide good, healthy food for our community while enjoying the freedoms (and responsibilities) of owning our own small business,” Courtney said.

    The two left their jobs as a building engineer and high school teacher and started Wilkinson Acres in Fairfield about a year ago, where they use low-till and organic practices to grow vegetables and fruit for their customers, which include restaurants, weekly visitors to their farm stand and, starting in January, CSA members.

    Below is a Q&A with Courtney about Wilkinson Acres:

    • Wilkinson Acres
    • Fairfield
    • 5 acres
    • 2019


    When did you start offering a CSA? Why was it important to offer?

    Our first ever CSA starts in January 2021! 2020 was a crazy year of pivoting due to COVID-19. The closure of many of our restaurant accounts required a shift in our business model towards our direct community. We realized that now more than ever it’s important for us to make healthy, organic food accessible to our immediate neighborhood and county. The CSA model allows our community to give us a boost at the beginning of the season, ensuring we can provide them with the best of our product for the 16-week season!

    Are there special perks for CSA members? Why do people tend to subscribe?

    There are definitely perks to being a member! For starters, all members get an extra 10% off at the farm stand (on-site), as well as a weekly Member Newsletter, featuring recipe ideas for the week’s produce. We’re working on more perks, in conjunction with some of our farm stand partner vendors. Stay tuned!

    What’s something that makes your farm stand out?

    Our organic certification. We’re certified organic by CCOF and, as far as we can tell, we are the only officially certified organic farm in the Fairfield/Suisun Valley area. We take a tremendous amount of pride in our organic transparency and the quality of our certified organic product. We are looking to implement even more organic and sustainable practices around the farm in the years to come.

    We use low-till growing practices to build soil health, which, in turn, grows better produce. Encouraging all the good bugs and bacteria to live in our soil by not tilling up their ecosystem and by adding in organic compost benefits the farmer and the plants. These beneficials, as we call them, help the plants take in and process nutrients, resulting in healthier, tastier food. Low-till farming is environmentally friendly, sustainable, and low-waste. It may not be the easiest way to farm, but we believe sustainable growing practices create better farms, food and families.

    Anything exciting on the horizon? What do you see happening and what do you want to see happen with interest in local food?

    The opening of our first CSA! We’re focusing hard on making the CSA kickoff in January an exceptional customer experience. Check out our website ( for all the details.

    With regards to interest in local food — we’d love to see more! We’ve had the great fortune to start creating relationships with a lot of passionate foodies in Solano County, but we know there are so many more people in our county that can and should benefit from the fantastic variety in the local ag and hospitality industries.

    Anything else you’d like to add?

    A big huge thank you to all of our customers! It’s been a wild couple of years for all of us and we know we would not be here without them. We are so deeply grateful for the welcome we’ve received from the agricultural community in Solano County. If you haven’t visited us yet, come see us every Saturday, 8 am-noon at the farm stand [winter hours: 10 am-2 pm]. We’re looking forward to meeting you!

    Wilkinson Acres has its Solano County CSA drop site at the farm. Learn more about how to sign up here.

    Find out more about local CSAs here.

    CSA Farm Spotlight: Soul Food Farm

    By Sustainable Solano

    This is an ongoing series profiling local farms that have Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) available in Solano County. CSAs create a way for community members to buy a share of the harvest directly from local farmers. Customers pay a set amount and receive a box of seasonal produce or other farm products in return. Such arrangements help farmers receive a greater share of the money paid, bring customers fresh, local produce and promote health, community and the local economy.

    Eggs from Soul Food Farm

    Soul Food Farm, off of Pleasants Valley Road in Vacaville, sits on land that was a family farm since 1850 and had lain fallow for 30 years before Eric and Alexis Koefoed bought it in 1997. They officially named it Soul Food Farm in 2000. Known for its pastured eggs and olive oil, the farm started by selling eggs to the community and then to restaurants. “It all happened so fast we didn’t have time to write a business plan, but the mission was always to grow clean, fresh, real food that people could afford,” Alexis said.

    There is a farm stand at the front of the property and the farm is often host to workshops and events, including the annual Women of Abundance conference. When COVID-19 upended the way local farmers were distributing their products, the Koefoeds took the steps necessary to start selling products from a variety of farmers directly to consumers through the Soul Food Farm CSA.

    Below is a Q&A with Alexis about Soul Food Farm:


    • Soul Food Farm
    • Vacaville
    • 55 acres
    • Established 2000


    When did you start offering a CSA? Why was it important to offer?

    In this current pandemic and shelter in place, the closure of small businesses, restaurants and markets has had a huge impact on farmers, ranchers and food producers (chefs) and the ability for people to access nutrient-dense food. It seemed imperative to pivot and to build a CSA that farmers could come together on and sell their food — a way to connect farmers to customers and get good food out into the community.

    Are there special perks for CSA members? Why do people tend to subscribe?

    We have set it up a little differently than traditional CSAs. It is still operated on the premise of Community Supported Agriculture, but there is no membership fee. I wanted the flexibility for people to join with ease, and also it wasn’t practical to have a membership fee with so many items from different farms on the site. This way, they can purchase just what they want and the system I’ve designed handles all the orders and inventory. That being said, I may change it in the future. The story is still unfolding.

    What’s something that makes your farm stand out?

    I don’t know if Soul Food Farm stands out as different from any other small farm, but the guiding principles of the farm have always been simple: That the farm should embody beauty, form and function. That simple was best. Our strength was in staying small and diverse. There have been times over the years when we drifted from those core principles and beliefs, but we always found our way back. And there would never have been a Soul Food Farm if it wasn’t for the customers and farm friends who have been part of our story.

    Anything exciting on the horizon? What do you see happening and what do you want to see happen with interest in local food?

    I think this upending of our economy in many ways is a reason to feel some excitement. We are watching people come together and exhibit great acts of kindness. It’s a painful adjustment, of course, but it’s forcing us all to be creative and inspired about how we view our businesses. We have the possibility now to create a new system of food equity:

    • A sound regional food system that includes access, transportation, a closer connection between farmers and consumers.
    • The understanding that food is our common denominator and is not a commodity but a human right.
    • The uplifting of small and regional food production as opposed to large, clumsy and cruel.
    • Farmers in each region supporting food security in a more profound way and the community responding with financial support.

    The world is changing and it could be a wonderful moment to create truly regenerative systems. The old way of corporations controlling our food supply is no longer feasible. The fractures of that big ag system have been revealed. The smaller farmers and their advocates are picking up the work of feeding people, building new supply chains and working out how to alleviate food insecurity with an intensity like never before.

    Anything else you’d like to add?

    Soul Food Farm CSA is adding new farmers, ranchers and small business owners each week to our list. We are going to keep operating the CSA as long as needed to help bring farmers and customers together.

    The Soul Food Farm CSA is available for pickup at the farm on Saturdays. Orders go live Saturdays at 10 am and close Wednesdays at 5 pm. Learn more here.

    Find out more about local CSAs here.

    CSA Farm Spotlight: Eatwell Farm

    By Sustainable Solano

    This is an ongoing series profiling local farms that have Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) available in Solano County. CSAs create a way for community members to buy a share of the harvest directly from local farmers. Customers pay a set amount and receive a box of seasonal produce or other farm products in return. Such arrangements help farmers receive a greater share of the money paid, bring customers fresh, local produce and promote health, community and the local economy.

    Andrew, Lorraine and Cameron of Eatwell Farm

    Eatwell Farm in Dixon was started by the late Nigel Walker, a leading figure in the Bay Area organic food movement. (Here’s a talk Nigel gave on the importance of healthy soil and why it is important to the work done at Eatwell Farm.) The organic farm grows hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables to ensure a year-round, diverse supply of produce.

    Nigel left a career as a radio engineer with the BBC World Service when he was 21 to go to horticultural college. He then farmed for a few years in England before moving to California.

    He “started farming because of true calling and passion,” said Lorraine Walker, who met Nigel in 2005 while working for an aromatheraphy-based skin care company that used some of his extracts in its products. The two began dating in 2007 and married in 2011.

    Nigel was diagnosed with cancer in late 2011 and died in 2017. Lorraine has continued to channel his passion and move forward their vision for the farm.

    “I am not a farmer, but I have committed my life to this farm, but more importantly to our CSA community,” Lorraine said.

    Below is a Q&A with Lorraine about Eatwell Farm:


    • Eatwell Farm
    • Dixon
    • 105 acres
    • Established 1997


    When did you start offering a CSA? Why was it important to offer?

    Nigel chose the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model specifically because of the community aspect. It is what drives what we do. Putting our members first, rather than wholesale, means we commit to growing to serve their needs. When Eatwell first began over 25 years ago, our outlets were at farmers markets. We are one of the founding farms at Cuesa’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and we have always been proud of our record of never having missed a market in all those years. After a couple of seasons, and meeting many great customers who were looking for a committed relationship to a farm, Nigel began the CSA with about 45 members. Today we stand at over 800 subscriptions, which means any given week we are feeding close to 2,000 people. That is a lot of lives we touch.

    Are there special perks for CSA members? Why do people tend to subscribe?

    I find most of our members are looking to support farms and wanting fresh produce. Some come to us with an understanding of how that direct connection can impact their lives, like learning to eat seasonally, or even better, having a farm to bring their kids to. We open the farm many times throughout the year to host members here for special events like U-pick Strawberry Days, Tomato Canning parties, and our last event was a day of harvesting olives with a pizza lunch. All of our events are private for members and their guests. Several years ago we tried opening them to the public, but we quickly learned that really altered the community/family feeling which our members had come to love, and is one of the reasons many of them stick with us.

    What’s something that makes your farm stand out?

    I hope what makes us special is us. My son Cameron, and now my step-son Andrew, who recently joined us as our CSA manager, make ourselves very available to all of our members. I write to all of our new members personally to say hello, give them my direct email and phone number to have in case they ever get stuck with ideas on how to use some of the produce, or just talk about the farm. I want all of our members to know that we are here, to help them out and feel like they are welcome to this special place.

    Anything exciting on the horizon? What do you see happening and what do you want to see happen with interest in local food?

    Learning more about farming, improving what we do, growing our community. More than ever, I think it is critical that we educate people to the importance of supporting their local farms. We are a rapidly disappearing breed, and all of us need much more than a quick pop into the farmers market and a few nice comments on the how good our produce looks. Farmers need the support of the local consumers, not just Eatwell, but all of us — Terra Firma out of Winters, Lockwood Acres in Vacaville are two super local farms who also offer CSA options.

    Anything else you’d like to add?

    The more we can share with folks the benefit of eating locally/seasonally, the easier it will become for them to make it their way of life. Saying no to New Zealand strawberries in February, and stone fruit from Chile in January, tomatoes year-round from Mexico to wait for them to come in locally means you get to experience them at their best. In some ways we should make many foods special again, something to look forward to, not to have 365 days of the year when most of that time what you pay for is just so inferior. Enjoying those fruits when they are at the peak of their, or rather, our season, also means we are cutting down an enormous carbon footprint with the benefit of supporting local farms and a local economy.

    Eatwell Farm has Solano County CSA drop sites in Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield, Vacaville and Vallejo. Learn more about how to sign up here.

    Find out more about local CSAs here.

    CSA Farm Spotlight: Terra Firma Farm

    By Sustainable Solano

    This is an ongoing series profiling local farms that have Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) available in Solano County. CSAs create a way for community members to buy a share of the harvest directly from local farmers. Customers pay a set amount and receive a box of seasonal produce or other farm products in return. Such arrangements help farmers receive a greater share of the money paid, bring customers fresh, local produce and promote health, community and the local economy.

    Paul Underhill, Paul Holmes and Hector Melendez of Terra Firma Farm


    Terra Firma Farm is a certified-organic farm that has been growing fruits, nuts and vegetables year-round for more than 25 years and supports dozens of employees.

    The farm started in 1984 when Paul Holmes and his friends started farming a few acres in the hills west of Winters under the name Sky High Farms. Paul was one of the founding members of the Davis and Berkeley Farmers Markets.

    Eventually the farm name became Terra Firma, as Paul Underhill and Hector Melendez became co-owners. The acreage grew over the years as demand for local, high quality, organic produce rose, CSA Manager Alicia Baddorf said.

    “The owners recognized the desire of city folks to reconnect with local farms and know more about the source of the food that they and their families were consuming,” she said.

    The farm has offered a CSA for more than 15 years.

    Below is a Q&A with Alicia about Terra Firma Farm:


    • Terra Firma Farm
    • Winters
    • 200 acres
    • Established 1984


    When did you start offering a CSA? Why was it important to offer?

    We started offering a CSA in 1994 at a single site in San Francisco’s Mission District. We were one of the earlier farms to offer a CSA program, feeling that it was important to bridge the gap between urban folks and the food chain.

    Are there special perks for CSA members? Why do people tend to subscribe?

    CSA members get to enjoy fresh, seasonal and local produce every week. Subscribers who pay a larger amount up front receive a bonus, and those who refer their friends receive a referral credit. People tend to subscribe because they are looking for a good source of fresh, local, quality fruits and vegetables. Many people also want to support a small farm that uses organic practices that align with their values.

    What’s something that makes your farm stand out?

    We are committed to providing sustainable employment and encouraging local economic development. We provide full-time, year-round employment for our workers. We employ roughly 10 times as many people per acre as most farms in our region. By selling, packing and delivering our products ourselves (adding value) we are able to offer a range of jobs that allow employees to move vertically as their careers progress.

    Anything exciting on the horizon? What do you see happening and what do you want to see happen with interest in local food?

    We are always adjusting our crop plan and working on a feedback loop. This year we have been working with Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms, who is trialing a mix of his tomato varieties on one of our properties. He develops wacky and beautiful looking tomato varieties, so it has been exciting for us to learn about and harvest new varieties of tomatoes that add some flair to our mixes.

    Anything else you’d like to add?

    We are always looking to offer fruits and vegetables to more households in Solano County. If anyone is interested in hosting a pick-up site in exchange for a weekly box of produce, please contact me for more information:

    Terra Firma Farm has Solano County CSA drop sites at the Benicia CSA Center and near Orlando Court in Vacaville. Learn more about how to sign up here.

    Find out more about local CSAs here.

    Partner Insight: ‘The Biggest Little Farm’ and Supporting Local Farmers

     Courtesy of Eatwell Farm

    We wanted to share with you some thoughts on ‘The Biggest Little Farm,’ which is currently playing in theaters and Cultivate Community Co-Op recently brought to The Empress Theatre in Vallejo.

    Eatwell Farm owner Lorraine Walker saw the film and offers perspective as a local farmer not only on what the film covers about the importance of soil and regenerative farming, but also what it doesn’t cover — and why that knowledge is important.

    At Sustainable Solano, we know the value of supporting small farms that use sustainable practices. These family farms are a pivotal part of building a food system that supports the local economy, builds local jobs and gives the buyer the benefit of the freshest produce. You can learn more about supporting local food at our Local Food Happenings page and by downloading our Local Food Guide.

    Eatwell Farm, based on 105 acres in Dixon, offers CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes of fresh, seasonal produce delivered to drop sites in the county. Boxes come in different sizes and at different frequencies to meet the needs of CSA members. By being a part of a CSA, members become part of supporting the farm and local food.

    Here’s Lorraine’s insight on the film that she originally wrote for Eatwell’s CSA members, printed here with her permission:

     Courtesy of Eatwell Farm

    ‘The Biggest Little Farm’

    By Lorraine Walker, Eatwell Farm

    Last week I went to promote our CSA at a viewing of ‘The Biggest Little Farm.’ I thoroughly enjoyed the film and related to many of their experiences. The movie had me reflecting on all the innovative things Nigel had done with our farm. He always considered our soil the life force from which all other life grows. After we began feeding our chickens whey, we realized a lot more was happening with our soil and Nigel made the decision to stop adding compost and other soil amendments. We now rely solely on our birds for fertility. Soil regeneration is probably one of the most important things we can do to save our planet. And listening to John Chester during the Q & A session after the movie, he certainly made that very clear.

    As much as I loved ‘The Biggest Little Farm,’ there is one downside to the movie, and it is a big one: the lack of transparency about how much an operation like theirs costs. The movie is gorgeous, the land is gorgeous, the work they do is amazing. According to the LA Times: Apricot Lane is a small-scale farm, defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as earning at least $1,000 in gross income, but not more than $250,000, annually. John speaks openly of their investors, but not who or how much has been invested. I can’t begin to imagine the price for 200 acres an hour from LA in Ventura County. The orchard project in the first year, renting all that heavy equipment to pull out the trees, then move soil, create contours, wow. And the cost of new trees — do a quick little Google on that and you will find trees cost anywhere from $75 to over $100. Granted they were buying in quantity, but I am sure the trees alone were a fortune. And the beautiful building and worm composting operation, how I would love to have something like that here on our farm. But seriously, how much money was all of that?

    According to that same LA Times article, they have 60 people working on the farm, including volunteers. On a farm that earns no more than $250,000 year, how many can earn a living wage? The idea that you can give up your city job and live the dream on a farm is so far from reality it isn’t even remotely funny. Sure if you have VC’s investing many, and I do mean many, millions of dollars, then maybe, but don’t you think at some point they would want to earn something back from that investment? The sad truth is, this beautiful movie makes farming look very doable, as long as you have enough grit. The reality is you need so much more than that, and you need a lot of customers.

    Not showing the real financial struggles this type of farming is facing hurts us all. Right now Eatwell’s CSA is working on a goal of 150 new members, but the competition is heavy. There are many CSA options, plus all the home delivery from GoodEggs, WholeFoods/Amazon, etc., not to mention the fact that the greater population doesn’t even cook. We traverse a very thin line between charging enough to support the farm and keeping food somewhat affordable for many. Putting the pipe dream aside, the movie left me feeling hopeful and very appreciative for the message is does share, and that is the fact that regenerative farming is extremely important. Ecologically speaking we can literally change the world.

    So go see the movie, be proud of your farm, enjoy watching all the wildlife living in and around Apricot Lane, and know that we too are a home for owls, hawks, bees, butterflies and many other happy animals here on your farm in Dixon.

    If you’d like to read the full LA Times article here is a link.

    And if you would like to support this type of farming here is a link to sign up for an Eatwell CSA share:

    Interested in joining a CSA? Find out more on our website and check out our list of local farms that serve the county.