It’s a dusty afternoon at KMK Organic Family Farm in Kingsburg, California. Dogs run along the side of our car and cheerily greet us as we roll up the driveway through the Jurassic leaves of an avocado grove. We stroll up to the rambling white farm house patio and are welcomed by Michelle Reynolds and Kristi Bravo, a mother and daughter tour de force in the central California farm scene.
Kristi is a 5th generation farmer. When she was in high school, she and her parents moved onto the 40 acre homestead with the intention of growing produce organically. For them, it was not a matter of marketing or a political statement; they simply wanted to grow the kind of produce they would feed their own family.
The results have been spectacular: chocolate mint, donut peaches, and sticky sweet Kingsburg gold cherry tomatoes mingle with carrots, onions, and peppers. They've even added a flock of chickens to offer up stunning little blue and tan eggs to customers who want a Saturday morning frittata. What started out as a simple booth at the farmers market has blossomed into a farm that feeds thousands of customers in central and southern California.
The newest addition to the farm operation is The Farmer's Daughter CSA. Having graduated from college, Kristi was prompted by her father to find a way to grow the farm rather than being hired as an hourly worker. What hatched was a way to reach customers beyond those who were willing to show up early on a Saturday morning to the farmers market by providing additional flexibility to the traditional CSA model. The concept is simple: customers choose how much of a seasonal produce item they'd like, and pay as they go. Boxes of gorgeous KMK fruits and veggies are dropped off to locations in the valley for customers to retrieve their bounty. Kristi has managed to tap into a new customer base by offering online orders, PayPal, and a "Lil' Bit" box which is just the right amount for one person.
Despite the guffawing goat in the yard and the heavenly smell of fresh baked bread that wafts from the farmhouse kitchen, farming is exceptionally hard work. Kristi, like her parents, rarely gets a day off, and she is always looking to innovate and find new varieties to grow to keep her customers happy. But it's worth it. "I love working for myself," said Kristi, "I love the connection between my family and our customers and their families." She and her husband are expecting their first child in August, and no doubt the little one will have a role as a 6th generation farmer. We all can look forward to that and be grateful for the bounty we have in the heart of California.