Good Fruit Grower

November 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 27 of 47

In My View Kate Moser, Sacramento County, California A journalist returns to farming Kate Moser is a former newspaper journalist who decided to return to and run the family farm. In this essay, she tells why. I grew up in the Sacramento River Delta, where winding levees hold back the mighty Sacramento River. After a decade or so of wandering and pursuing a career in newspapers, I find myself back here preparing to take over my family's farm. From the levee highway, you'll see the river and sloughs on one side, sunlight shining silver in the green-brown water. On the other side of the highway, you look out past acres of geometric lines— orchards and row crops and more and more vineyards. My family's farming business has been operating here since 1925. This collection of islands and tracts connected by drawbridges and ferries harbors some of the most fertile alluvial soil in California. Settlers of the Delta transformed what was once 700,000 acres of tidal freshwater marsh into hundreds of thousands of acres of irrigated agricultural land. Many came in 1850 after the passage of the federal Swamp and Overflow Land Act, which transferred swampland to the state. The state legislature did away with acreage limits, and soon thousands of acres were privately owned. Chinese immigrants who settled in the Delta by the 1860s built more than a thousand miles of levees to reclaim farmland. First-generation laborers from China, Japan, India, the Philippines, and Mexico came to work in orchards, asparagus fields, packing sheds, and canneries. In the Delta's heyday, fruits and vegetables were packed daily throughout the season on wharves close to the orchards and shipped on steamships to San Francisco and Sacramento. It's long been a pear-growing center, with Bartlett pears still pulling in $32.7 million last year as Sacramento County's third-biggest commodity. Wine grapes, by comparison, have shot to the top as a $93-million crop in Sacramento County. Pulling pears "I struggle being a woman in a maledominated world." Starting this year, my family's farming business, Darsie, Hutchinson & Pettigrew, will pull out our old pears, planting Chardonnay and Petite Sirah grapes in their place. It's also my first —Kate Moser year attempting to follow in my father's footsteps in farming, after leaving a career as a newspaper reporter. The idea of being at the ranch appealed to me because I'd be able to be outside (rather than hunched at a desk on deadline every workday) and because it was an exciting prospect to jump into an industry that is growing. I like seeing hawks and coyotes during my workday. There's an independence to farming that I can see being deeply satisfying. It's not the romantic lifestyle that many people think farming is. I struggle being a woman in a male-dominated world, valuing different things than a lot of the farmers I meet seem to value, and encountering the inherent injustices of a flawed immigration system—seeing the employees who work the hardest getting paid the least. It's hard to RHINO TURBO SERIES ROTARY CUTTERS Managing processor by-products to create manure-free compost Where Where Compost COMPOST Happens happens. TURBO 96 • Turbo 96 2-PT • Dome deck • 8-ft. cutting width • Adjustable offset w/cyl. • Cutting height 1.5 to 12" w/cyl • Blade overlap 4" • Divider box center: 120 HP; outboard: 110HP • Blade tip speed 17,004 FPM • Cutting capacity 2.5" • Side skirt .25" x 10" YAKIMA IMPLEMENT & IRRIGATION 1922 S. First Street • Yakima, Washington 4857 Contractor's Drive • East Wenatchee, Washington 509-452-5867 • 1-800-572-2239 28 VALLEY TRACTOR & RENTALS 509-886-1566 • 1-800-461-5339 509-837-3501 ● Sunnyside, WA NOVEMBER 2013 Good Fruit

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Good Fruit Grower - November 2013