Our Story

The seeds for Terra Firma Farm were planted in the late 1980s when Paul Holmes began farming a few acres in the hills west of Winters with a few friends under the name Sky High Farm.  Paul developed a following for his garlic, tomatoes, and other vegetables as one of the founding members of both the Davis Farmers Market and Berkeley Farmers Market.  Sky High Farm was also one of the original members of California Certified Organic Farmers, prior to official state and federal recognition of organics.

In the early 1990s, Paul hired Hector Melendez-Lopez and Paul Underhill (Pablito) as employees. Pablito became a partner in 1993, when the name of the farm was changed to Terra Firma, and Hector joined on in 2005.

Terra Firma started its CSA in 1994 with a few dozen acquaintances at a single drop site in San Francisco’s Mission District (Capp Street).  As word spread and the CSA slowly grew to include other sites in the City, the East Bay, and Sacramento, the farm grew as well.  We rented additional fields for growing vegetables and leased small neglected or abandoned fruit orchards to augment the vegetables.  We currently provide food for 1300 subscriber households farming around 150 acres of vegetables and 50 acres combined of fruit and nut orchards.

Before he became a partner in Terra Firma, Hector became one of its landlords when he and his family purchased 25 acres of land we were already farming, in 1999.  In 2003, with the critical help of CSA subscribers, Paul and Pablito were able to finally purchase 80 acres of land.  With the addition of Hector to the ownership team in 2005, Terra Firma has secure tenure on fully half the total land we farm.

Like the households of many of our subscribers, Terra Firma is a non-traditional version of a “family farm”.  Nonetheless, Hector’s mother Genoveva, father Alfredo, brother Victor, and sister-in-law Juanice all work in critical positions at the farm.

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Abundance and Scarcity

Scarcity and abundance are the yin and yang of agriculture, coexisting in a complex dance that affects both farmers and eaters around the world. Late summer in Northern California is a time of abundance that can feel overwhelming at times, … Continue reading

Dust, Water and Food Safety

By the end of 2016, our farm and every other farm growing fresh produce in the U.S. will be required by the Food and Drug Administration to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act finalized last year. This well-meaning legislation … Continue reading

Asthma Prevention, Amish-Style

Last week the New York Times covered a study by a group of prestigious researchers who were seeking to understand the huge rise in the number of children with asthma over the last thirty years.  One group of people in particular … Continue reading