We made our first sale (a bunch of green onions, as I recall) at a farmers market in Austin in the spring of 1999. One year before that fateful event, John had erected an eight-foot deer fence – a necessity in this part of the world – added 50 tons of horse manure to the three-acre area, and planted the first of two consecutive cover crops in preparation for our vegetable crops. While the cover crops were busy enriching the soil of this former ranchland, we were busy getting our new farmhouse constructed (with the help of a professional builder!).
Prior to that, John worked as the Vice-president and eventual President of a state-wide company, of which we were partial owners, for about 15 years while I spent my working hours in the employ of attorneys. In 1995, John’s company was bought out by a larger corporation. John’s official title changed to General Manager, our income tax bracket went up a notch or two, and I quit my job to become a lady of leisure. During this time, John was an avid gardener. He learned about growing organically at the Austin Community Gardens in 1980, and beginning with the purchase of our first house in 1981, we always had at least one large garden.
After the sale of the company, John became less and less interested in continuing his role in the corporate world. The money was good, but the lack of personal fulfillment was not. We had lived in the South Texas Valley one year while his company was opening a new location, and upon seeing the farmland in the area, John secretly dreamed about farming one day himself. In 1996, he presented to me the idea – we could start a little farm of our own. Something we could do together. I was all for it.
We purchased our lovely fifteen acres that year. John continued working at the company during the development of the farm, while I became a full-time owner/laborer (with the emphasis on laborer!) of Angel Valley Organic Farm. Almost every waking moment while not at his "real" job, John spent working on the farm. In the spring of 2000, he reduced his hours to part-time employee at the company, and in July quit that job altogether. That’s when our income tax bracket dropped substantially! And John’s official title changed to Farmer John.
We haven’t looked back. In the summer of 2001, John expanded the deer fence to include an additional five acres of our property. We let most of the original three fenced acres rest, and began growing the majority of our spring 2002 crop in the new area. Although we have eight acres available, only six acres are tillable and we plant a total of about three of those acres in vegetables at any one time. We let the remaining acreage either lie fallow or planted with an appropriate cover crop for the particular season.
Our farm was certified organic by the Texas Department of Agriculture from the very start. In 2003, we became certified under the new USDA guidelines. We feel that our customers find the certification reassuring, and we feel that growing organically is of the utmost importance. We wouldn’t do it any other way. We take great pride in bringing our customers the freshest, cleanest food available.
Thanks so much for your interest!
Angel Valley Organic Farm