Farmer: Bryan Kaminsky
Location: Newcastle, Calif.
Specialty: Year-round organic vegetable and pastured-egg CSA; specialty greens
If sunny California seems like the perfect backdrop for growing a gastronomic spread of organic vegetables and eggs from pastured chickens, Bryan Kaminsky would surely agree. A lifelong farmer, who as an FFA student raised sheep and immersed himself in high-school ag classes, he set a goal of turning his farming hobby into a full-fledged business, and with great success.
Inspired by his mother’s natural-foods business—the farm’s namesake—Kaminsky launched Natural Trading Company, a 40-acre organic farm, in 1995. Kaminsky started small with what he knew, eventually adding a greenhouse and specialty products, including sunflower greens, pea shoots and wheatgrass, which can be found in co-ops and groceries in the surrounding area.
“We started to grow wheatgrass shortly after when we realized that health-conscious customers in the Sacramento region were looking for organic, high-quality wheatgrass,” he says. “Diversity is important in farming; when a crop doesn’t do well it’s helpful to have other crops as a backup to make up the difference and keep the business going.”
Kaminsky is a true businessman and has carved out a valuable niche in his community. His produce lineup includes a drool-worthy list of fruits and vegetables, including five varieties of kale, 30 varieties of tomatoes and persimmons from 50-plus-year-old trees, which he makes available to the community via farmers’ markets and a year-round CSA. But despite all the hard work that he puts into what could seemingly be a full year of production, like any good businessman, he knows the true value of honest rest.
“With the intensity that we work the land during the spring and summer, it makes sense to give both the people and the land a chance to take a break and rejuvenate over the winter,” he says.
Turning my dreams into reality and my passion and hobby into a successful, organic, diversified farm business.
Weed pressure—the constant concern of every grower, especially in organics, where our best defense against weeds is time and labor. These things are hard to come by at the height of the season when your immediate task is to get vegetables out to customers. On the business side, bureaucratic red tape and paperwork grow just as quickly and constantly.
Hold tight onto your dreams and your intention because it’s a big ride—they’ll keep you inspired in the face of the many challenges of farming. At the same time, stay grounded in the realization that farming can be a business or a hobby. If you’re intending to farm for a livelihood, be in a business mindset and know your numbers from day one so you’ll set yourself up for long-term economic and environmental sustainability.