Agustin Cardenas will tell you, “When life presents you opportunities, it’s important to be ready.” He credits the opportunities he was presented with early in his life for leading him to a career and passion for farming.
“I had an opportunity to lease some land about 16 years ago, and I don’t know why, honestly, but the love just keeps growing,” Agustin said about his start in farming, “So, that’s why we do what we do.”
Agustin started working in the field as a teenager when he moved from Mexico to the United States in 1984. While working full-time on his employer’s ranch, he got his degree in accounting, and years later, the opportunity arose to lease and then buy the ranch where he worked when his employer retired.
His passion for growing was blooming, but the farm’s finances weren’t for many years until Agustin found a niche in the organic market. Going organic saved his farm. Agustin is currently growing stone fruit and citrus for Homegrown, and also grows blueberries, persimmons, and apples.
“Organic is totally different, we use different methods for controlling pests. You learn to work without any herbicides—you have to get used to seeing a lot of weeds, a lot of grass, but that’s not that bad, we can work around it. We love growing organic fruit. I just feel it’s best for people to eat, you just don’t have the residue of more harmful chemicals. It makes us feel good, growing organic fruit,” Agustin said.
Owning his own farm, and farming full time was outside of anything Agustin would have imagined when he began in agriculture. The farm has provided a way for the family to come together. His wife Maricela takes care of the administrative work, three of his siblings are partners in the farm, and his father continues to do the farming with him.
“Now I have bigger dreams, now we can dream a lot higher, we want to have every square inch of this land producing something,” Agustin said about the future of Cardenas Ranch. Take a virtual tour of Cardenas Ranch with Episode 5 of Beyond the Harvest: Valley Citrus.