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“Healing the planet through agriculture”

Lone Willow Ranch

Lone Willow Ranch

Lone Willow Ranch

Lone Willow Ranch

Lone Willow Ranch

Lone Willow Ranch

Profiles in Farming

Lone Willow Ranch

In May in the San Joaquin Valley, where the temperature is already soaring to 107 degrees by 5:30 am, you have to catch John Teixeira early. He's typically on his tractor before the sun comes up.¬† John is from a family of farmers, and is the only brother who has chosen the biodynamic path (as evidenced by the biodynamic calendar in his back pocket).¬† With an established tradition of raising heirloom products: tomatoes, beans, leafy vegetables, pigs, poultry, and many other agricultural products, Lone Willow Ranch is now venturing into the realm of ancient wheat grains.¬† Recently, Lone Willow has created two Biodynamic¬ģ homegrown pastas from its heirloom wheats.

"About twenty-five years ago, there was a workshop at Gena's on the development of Biodynamic Preparations 500 and 501 (a requirement of the Demeter Farm Standard). I was one of two people who showed up!" explains John. Gena Nonini, whose grandfather emigrated from Italy to Fresno in 1900, is now the third generation stewarding Demeter certified Marian Farms. "When I met Gena, I had just begun implementing organic practices. So I read lots more. And started playing around with the different field sprays. My tipping point though was going to EcoFarm and rooming with Lloyd Nelson (now a partner in Biodynamic Source- a Biodynamic preparation store). He pushed me over the top and I decided to transition my ranch into Biodynamic production."

John is a natural food industry veteran, having served in various capacities with CCOF (California Certified Organic Farms). But Biodynamic farming focuses on so much more than the requirements of organic certification.  "Biodynamic farming is really about the potential of your perception" he emphasizes. "There's something about the Biodynamic  preparations 500 and 501. It's about your senses. It's the uniqueness of the taste and the product. I like (BD) it because it's not going to be overtaken. Uniqueness and high quality come from with everything on the farm being in gear, including the individual's energy, the microbes...it's such uniqueness."

Last year, John decided to produce a certified Biodynamic Ethiopian Emmer Wheat Fusilli and Soft Spring Sonora Pasta from his heirloom grains.  He identified a mill in San Juan Batista, and then contracted with Pasta Sonoma, an artisan pasta maker, to produce his pastas. John recalls that when Pasta Sonoma first learned about the Demeter Processing Standard, they were blown away. It is an incredible foodie standard! This year John is planning on producing about 1,500 pounds of pasta, and shopping around for his own pasta machine.  He also is building up his seed inventory and will begin growing a cereal rye and a Purple Tibetan Barley. "I also bought a stone mill last year. I am really interested in and committed to these Ancient Grains!"

In addition to all of his crops and farm animals, Lone Willow Ranch, located along the San Joaquin River, is home to raccoons, squirrels, snakes, turtles, foxes, and coyotes and hundreds of birds, not to mention thousands of bees! "All the wildlife at the river contributes to the eco system on the farm. The hawks and owls help keep the gofer population in check. For healthy pest management, we planted a native hedgerow. The hedgerow is home to many beneficial insect and wildlife. We believe in working with nature and nature will work with you."