Peter Martini, Young Grower from Escalon, California
TJ Mullinax // Jul 1, 2014
age / 37 crops / Peaches and almonds title / Farm manager business / Martini Farms, LLC. Peter is a third-generation farmer taking over the business from his parents. Peter’s grandparents started farming in Escalon after immigrating from Italy in the 1920s. education / Master’s degree in plant breeding from University of California, Davis
Q: What was your path to farming? As a kid I pretty much was dead-set that I was going to be a farmer.
Q: You left farming for a while and came back five years ago. What was it like returning? At first it was a struggle. It’s a different lifestyle, but in the end, now that I have two small children, they love being out on the farm. They are living the life that I had when I was a kid.
Q: What challenges does your farm face? The land that we’re in is very flat and is very sandy. We have different challenges in regards to diseases. Cankers are one of the more common along with nematodes in our soils. Growing peaches is a pretty tough crop. I know a lot of people are transitioning out of peaches and going into nuts—especially almonds and walnuts.
Q: What about labor? By far, being a farmer out here is about finding labor to pick and maintain the crops. Peaches are just so labor intensive. During the peak of harvest we may have 40 people working at once, whereas during the off season we may have three. We have to find labor quickly. Peaches are a delicate fruit so you can’t just wait. They have to be picked right away.
Q: What do you love about farming? To me it’s a noble job. It’s a job where you are providing food for people. I guess I would equate it with being a policeman or fireman, where it’s personally rewarding. Before returning, I know the company I was working for did well. But now, especially because I’m the manager of the farm, I know my hard work directly goes to produce food for people and a living for my family. That’s the main benefit of being a farmer. I get to work hard and see a direct result of that hard work.
TJ Mullinax joined Good Fruit Grower as digital producer and photojournalist in 2013. He photographs and edits visual stories for the print magazine and online publishing spaces. Along with editorial production, TJ develops and maintains the magazine’s digital products. -- Follow the author: Phone: (509) 853-3519 -- Email