age / 33
crops / wine grapes, 200 acres in apples, 100 acres pears,
business / Darsie, Hutchinson & Pettigrew, Inc.
education / English and journalism focus
other experience / Learning from father and and ranch foreman Alfonso Casillas about the daily operation of the farm
Q: What was your path to farming?
I studied English in college, and then I went to journalism school and was working as a newspaper reporter when my dad asked me if I’d like to join the business. So now I’m working for the family.
Q: Are you learning old and new farming techniques?
A little bit of both. It’s going to take me years to learn a lot of the stuff that I need to know. Right now I’m doing a lot of paying attention and learning from the people who are my teachers. I have some ideas of how things can be done differently and some hopes for making changes that could be good for the business for the long run.
Q: What are some of those ideas?
We just took out our 100- year-old Bartlett pears and are putting in wine grapes over the next three years, so that’s a big change. We’ll adapt the farm as needed.
Q: What challenges do you face in the next five years?
Well, it’s a huge deal just trying not to make any devastating mistakes learning how to grow a whole new crop. Labor shortages continue to be a real concern, and that’s part of the motivation for planting grapes because we will be able to machine harvest.
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