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Knoll Farm: An Organic Inspiration

Knoll Farm, the site of a recent field trip sponsored by the
Botanical-Ecology Club, is a certified organic farm in Brentwood,
California, about an hour’s drive from Oakland. The owners Kristie
and Rick have owned this piece of land since the 70s, where they
have grown delicious organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs for CSA
s, gourmet restaurants, and farmers’ markets. While we visited,
they were growing a variety of figs, tomatoes, delicious green
garlic, and much more. Their growing technique is rare; instead of
planting one variety of crop with no natural ability to resist
weeds and pests, they allow their plants to grow somewhat
naturally, completing their natural life cycles, using natural
compost, and choosing not to spray weeds that grow alongside the
plants they intend to cultivate. This is in stark contrast to the
alfalfa crops that surround their farm; these plants have no
natural resistance to predators and no genetic diversity, which
results in a system in which farmers must spray these crops with
pesticides and herbicides even when they see the damaging effect it
has on their health and the health of the environment and people
around them.

However, pesticides and other poisons are not the only threat to
small farmers like the Knolls and other farmers in the Brentwood
area, and all over California. Farmland is being developed at an
immense rate; farms that families once relied on for their survival
are quickly being turned into strip malls and track housing,
forever changing what to the Knoll’s and many other farmers is a
way of life.

However, Kristie made sure we left the farm with a message that
we, as future activists and decision makers, can make a difference.
She pointed out that we can all make the decision to stop buying
food that was not grown locally and sprayed with poison, and begin
to buy organic produce that was grown locally, such as the produce
sold at the farmers’ market outside the back gates of Mills every