We are proud to offer Rancho La Familia's certified organic produce here at SLO Natural Foods Co-op. From August 2 - August 15, you'll get an additional 10% off our already low prices on Rancho La Familia produce including lettuce, kale, broccoli, strawberries, raspberries, and more!
Rancho La Familia in Santa Maria got its start when Virginia Cortez decided that she wanted to own and farm her own land. As a single mother, it was very difficult for her to secure a loan but she persisted, and in 1999 she was able to buy some land that she had previously leased. Virginia started with 10 acres and kept adding to it. Now, including son Omar's land next door, Rancho La Familia is a 50 acre family farm.
And a family farm it truly is, with Virginia, Luis Sr., and their three adult children all working in different aspects of the business. Luis Sr. does some of the marketing and deliveries, and Omar works in marketing as well as overseeing the many farmers' markets they attend. Luis Jr. works on the tractors and other machinery preparing the ground and planting, and Veronica manages the office. In addition to their own family, they also have employees who work on the farm to plant, grow, and harvest the many crops grown at Rancho La Familia.
Nearly all their land is in production and all of their produce is certified organic. Achieving and maintaining organic certification requires a large investment of time and attention to all the documentation and record keeping, not to mention the inspections on the farm, but maintaining this is very important to Virginia and her family.
A wide variety of crops are grown at Rancho La Familia throughout the year. Some, such as beans, tomatoes, blackberries, and raspberries, are grown during warmer weather but other crops like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, carrots, fennel root, lettuces (and even strawberries!) are grown year-round. Succession planting -- starting broccoli every 8-10 days, for example -- allows a crop to be grown and harvested throughout the year. The family hopes to utilize some hoop houses on Omar's property for growing blackberries and raspberries year-round, rather than only in the summer.
In addition to getting the hoop houses into production, future plans include adding more equipment such as another tractor and bug vacuum to increase efficiency and allow Rancho La Familia to expand their operation. The family enjoys their small orchard and may add more trees to allow fruit sales as well.
Virginia is very happy that her children have come back to the farm to work together after getting their educations. She most enjoys being outside and feels lucky to live and work on this land with her family among all the organic food crops and the cherry and peach trees in their family orchard. Both Virginia and Omar emphasized that they enjoy having visitors on their farm so that people can see that the food they buy from Rancho La Familia is actually grown there, that it is their own production, and that no herbicides and pesticides are used. The goal at Rancho La Familia is to make sure all of the produce is safe both for their family and for their customers.