Swanton Berry Farm was founded in 1983 by two dreamers who had previously worked on farmworker-owned cooperatives here in Central California. Jim Cochran and Mark Matze both got the farming bug and couldn’t resist trying it on their own. They rented 4 acres of land, bought an old tractor, and planted four acres of strawberries. At that time no one had grown strawberries organically on a commercially successful basis, and everyone in the industry said it couldn’t be done. Two earlier dreamers, Cesar Chavez and Rachel Carson had spawned a dream.
The first couple of years, they experimented with both chemical and organic methods, and had enough success to pay the bills, but not much more. Mark decided to move on, married a wonderful woman, Claire, and eventually wound up farming in Argentina, where he is today.
Jim stayed on, said his vows to the farm, borrowed some money, and continues today, joined now by this thirteen year old son Jimmy, and many others who make it all happen.
The farm has grown, always on a shoestring and with help from the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union. The dream now includes ten co-dreamers, Jim Cochran, Sandy Brown, Adelfo Antonio, Juan Barranco, Bill Kennedy, Rachel Chatham, Jackie Olivares, Luis Ruiz, Tim Campion, and Tim Hudson.
Someday we hope to purchase some land of our own, but for now, we are and renting four beautiful ranches strung along Highway One, north of Santa Cruz, California.
California Certified Organic Farmers,
becoming the first organic strawberry farm
In 1998, Swanton Berry Farm was the first
EPA's Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award for
being the "pioneer...in developing the technology
of farming strawberries...without relying on the
soil fumigant methyl bromide," a major
contributor to the depletion of the Ozone Layer.
In 2003, Swanton Berry Farm was the single
In 2005, Swanton Berry Farm began to offer
In 2011 Jim was awarded the National Resource Defense Council's Growing Green Food Producer Award on behalf of Swanton Berry Farm.
Read Jim's blog post here.
Swanton Berry Farm, P.O. Box 308, Davenport, CA 95017 | (831)469-8804 | Web Design: Dov Bock © 2005