A rare rainstorm sprinkled much needed droplets on our heads as Chris and I walked across a small farm located in our neighborhood in Ontario, CA. Randy, the farm’s owner, walked just in front of us describing the process of organic gardening.
“We use compost and goat and chicken droppings for fertilizer and volunteers help us pull unwanted weeds.” A goat yelled after Randy as if to prove a point. Looking at the expanse of fresh greens and root vegetables thriving on Amy’s Farm, Chris and I couldn’t believe we had found such a haven in the middle of the Inland Empire.
Amy’s Farm grows a wide variety of seasonal produce and offers a CSA program for families and individuals interested in eating food that is rich in nutrients and lacking in chemicals. Two walk-in refrigerators and a spacious room are often filled with pumpkins, salad greens, eggplants, carrots, pomegranates, peppers, turnips, kale, lemons, blood oranges, and many other seasonal goodies.
These rooms are open for visitors at all hours of the day and CSA members are free to take their weekly share at any time. The farm also encourages community members to volunteer. “We only have two rules for volunteers,” said Randy in the middle of our tour. “First, they need to sign-in. Second, they need to take a little produce with them when they leave.”
The garden at Amy’s Farm supports 14 families and three restaurants, with food often left over. Any fruits or vegetables that aren’t bought are donated to local missions. Schools are also invited to visit Amy’s, where children can get their hands dirty and learn how food is grown. But Amy’s isn’t just about the produce. Sheep, goats, chickens, horses, ponies, cattle, and 10-pound kunekune pigs (a heritage breed that hales from New Zealand) also call the farm home.
Spacious stalls are kept clean and the animals never seem to be uncomfortable, especially with all the love and attention they receive from visitors. Families can join a meat share program and purchase a steer, lamb, kunekune, or turkey (during Thanksgiving) from the farm.
Before Amy’s Farm opened its red metal gate in 1998, it was a family-operated cattle ranch; one of the oldest in the area. Eventually, Randy and his wife, Anna, realized that the community was in need of local organic produce and a place to escape from the rush of daily life. So, they decided to shift their focus from beef to vegetables and named their new farm after their daughter, Amy.
We are sure glad they did. Otherwise, our weekly shopping trip wouldn’t include dropping off much needed compost, scratching the necks of purring cats, making friendly new acquaintances, or taking home a bag full of fruits and vegetables that were planted with love and pulled with care.