Monte and his wife Connie came to the farm with a colorful work history in tow. He had driven all over the West Coast selling school busses, had done work as safety consultant for a big insurance firm, and continues to run a web-based business. In addition, his wife Connie was a registered nurse for 35 years.
So, when Monte turned his attention to producing food 22 years ago, he had a lot of business experience and was looking for a good investment to pass on to his kids and keep him busy during retirement. The farm’s payoff took him by surprise.
“I didn’t expect that I would really enjoy working out here, “ he said, reflecting on the early years on the farm. “But I love this. I can come out here on a tractor, or if I’m discing, and spend 10, 12, 14 hours out here, and I can leave knowing I accomplished something. I may be tired, but I don’t regret that I had been out here. I don’t think most people can say that about their jobs, I’m very fortunate I guess.”
Not only that, but the perks of this job are tree-ripe and sweet. And even though he refers to his organic Murcott mandarin farm by the cross streets rather than an official name, his son Clint, who manages the the farm, calls it Monte Farms in honor of the man who loves it most.
Both of Monte’s grandparents had farmed, by horse and by mule, in the Midwest, though neither of his parents went back to the farm after WWII. When Monte bought his farm, he brought agriculture back into the family, first with raisin grapes and now with citrus.
The Young’s journey to organic production began in 2006 when they started looking for a niche for their small crop of citrus. “It’s certainly a more sustainable way to go about it, in that it keeps chemicals out of the soil and eventually the water,” he said about organics. “The big thing now is sustainability, but farmers have been farming with sustainability in mind for centuries, because that’s how they make their living.”
During the transition to organic production, Monte continued doing the farm work he loved, and the fields just kept getting greener. While the weeds and tall grasses that come hand in hand with organic farming create new challenges, he has hopes that what he’s started will still be around for his kids and grandkids to enjoy in the far future.