Sierra Harvest’s land match program helps connect farmers who are looking for land with landowners who have land they would like to see farmed. This season, a group of first generation farmers called the Flying V Farm are getting started on a piece of land in Placerville thanks to the Sierra Harvest Land Match Program. Flying V Farm consists of co-owners Lucy O’Dea, Brenna Lanton, and brother’s Grayson Curtis and Cody Curtis. Here’s a little bit about their farm and their experience.
How did Sierra Harvest help you find land? What was the process like?
Sierra Harvest was essential in our land-match process. Our landowners had reached out to a few local organizations and when Sierra Harvest saw their land offer, they immediately sent it to us.
Tell us about the name of your farm.
Flying V is a reference to the flight patterns that birds have while migrating together, in particular the Sand Hill Cranes. Cooperative work requires a subtle and nuanced sense of understanding and communication all the while working toward a common goal. As they say, birds of a feather flock together.
Can you describe the farm in its current state and your plans for growth?
We have been n the land for just over one month. Our lease includes a healthy swath of land with established apples, table grapes, and blueberries. Much of our winter work right now is tending to the perennial plantings, building infrastructure, and prepping our annual fields for production this spring. We are also renovating a farm stand on site which will open this autumn for the popular Apple Hill tourist season. We have plans for growth, but for now we want to bring a new sense of vitality to the crops already existing on the land. Some future goals are to plant a more diverse apple orchard and expand our blueberry patch.
Can you tell us more about your worker owned model?
In the beginning of this project (Winter 2015), we all came together with an interest in creating a worker-owned business. We all see value in putting the decision-making powers into the workers hands as well as having equal ownership in the business. While we believe this model is forward-thinking and sustainable, it does require a lot of organization. We couldn’t have done it without the plethora of cooperative community support in California. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel; people have been working cooperatively for a long time. We prioritize communication, governance, and a working model of leading and supporting. Each of us has a different area of management on the farm– this requires that we trust each other and can delegate responsibility in order to have a successful business. It’s really incredible to have a work-force of four dedicated and experienced farmers.
How can people connect with Flying V Farm? Where will your products be available?
We are selling diversified fruits and vegetables to our local markets in Placerville as well as regionally to the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, BriarPatch Food Co-op, & the Tahoe Food Hub. Our farm stand will be open for business this fall where we will be selling our produce along with beautiful decorations (dried flower arrangements, ornamental and edible squash, dried corn and much more!).
on Instagram @flyingvfarmers
on Facebook at @flyingvfarmers
What would you tell others looking for land?
Write up a document that tells people who you are and what you are looking for. Send it to any and all land organizations and Land Trusts that are in your areas of interest. Cast a wide net but think thoroughly about your options when they start to come in. Also be patient! Give time for land options to fully develop and for the right opportunity to emerge. Lastly, work with California Farmlink. They are an incredible resource and helped us immensely in the lease development process to write the lease and advocate for our needs as farmers.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Have fun! Stay focused! Call on your community and offer your experience once you’re ready.