"We dreamed, we planted, we farmed, and we worked really hard." - Annie Main
Capay, CA - On November 1st, Good Humus Produce, community partners and friends celebrated their new Property Easement, which will secure the land's use as an organic farm for future generations. This goal was accomplished in cooperation with many Central Valley food leaders working together as One Farm at a Time. Good Humus is a 20 acre Certified Organic farm owned and operated by Annie and Jeff Main since 1976. Over the past 42 years, the family farm has grown to be a vibrant part of the regional food system. In addition to a robust direct-to-consumer CSA program, Good Humus serves the Davis Farmers Market, wholesale operations in the Bay Area, as well as the Sacramento and Davis Food Cooperatives. This marked a monumental chapter in the story of the organization and a new beginning. After more than 10 years of fundraising, planning, and galvanizing support from an array of partners, Good Humus Produce was able to secure an easement on their land.
What does this mean for the farm? In short, it means that the 20 acres of land that is currently farmed by Good Humus Produce is legally required to be used only for sustainable agricultural purposes in perpetuity. Regardless of any changes to ownership that may happen in the future, the land cannot be developed for other uses. The easement is controlled by a land trust (in the case of the Good Humus easement, it is overseen by Equity Trust), who then control it moving forward to ensure that it is honored by any subsequent owners of the farm. Click here to read even more about how easements work.
While it may sound like an esoteric legal and financial formality, the easement will have tangible impacts for the present and future of Good Humus Produce. Spending an afternoon on the farm in the valley of Hungry Hollow, we were able to see and feel the connection that the Main family has to their land. From the joyful pride on Jeff’s face as he led his guests on a tour through the Good Humus orchards and fields to the tearful gratitude that Annie expressed to everyone that aided in securing the easement, the afternoon was a mix of gravity and levity that can only come with the completion of a task that once had seemed insurmountable.
As Jeff and Annie explained in no uncertain terms, there were times during the last decade at which they did not think they would succeed. There were times when it seemed they would have to walk away from not only their aspirations of securing an easement, but from the farm itself. The Mains had taken what was essentially an empty valley in 1976 and sought to cultivate an agricultural hub, so to even consider letting it lay fallow after their investment was discouraging. But because of the encouragement of key individuals when they needed it most, Annie and Jeff and the team of partners that supported their cause continued to move forward. As Annie explained, “We dreamed, we planted, we farmed, and we worked really hard.”
"We do many things on the farm, some just to see what happens." - Jeff Main
We were able to see the joy and the relief that came with finally achieving their vision. The Main family is leading by example, and their work has truly taken on a life of its own. They have succeeded in laying the foundations for sustainable, organic agriculture in Hungry Hollow for generations to come, regardless of who the landowners may be. The land they have cultivated, listened to, and loved is now legally required to be treated with the same respect they have given it, and to be affordable for any future farmers that are looking to follow in the Main’s footsteps.
The afternoon was a celebration not only of the easement itself, but of the various partners throughout California’s Central Valley that worked to make it possible. Between individuals working on the frontlines of the easement permitting process, and local partners such as the Davis Food Co-Op and the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op that worked to raise funds and awareness from customers and vendors, it was a collaboration in many ways.
Pachamama Coffee, along with other mission-oriented companies such as Organic Valley, Strauss Family Creamery, and Equal Exchange, has been a financial partner in the endeavor, donating a small percentage of coffee sales via the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op. It was humbling to see the tireless efforts taken by the Main family and their partners. It is essential to get back to basics whenever possible, and visit the dedicated family farmers that work to make sustainable food systems a reality for the present and future. Individuals like Annie and Jeff Main are the reason that Sacramento can claim the title of "America's Farm-to-Fork Capital", and the opportunity to shake their hand and simply say, “Thank you” was one of the little moments that help us apprehend the big picture of small scale organic agriculture. They provide us with a connection to our food that we cannot take for granted, and their commitment to be responsible stewards of the land they cultivate is a gift to us all.