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Cuyama Homegrown / Juniper Hill Ranch

Jean Gaillard & Meg Brown are the co-proprietors of Cuyama Homegrown, a small-scale environmentally friendly farm providing “Farm Fresh Produce” to the Cuyama Valley and surrounding areas. Both Jean and Meg’s background [prior to moving to the Cuyama Valley] was already in agriculture. Jean, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Rural Engineering, and Meg [Jean’s wife and partner] has a Masters Degree in Agriculture Economics and is an ongoing agricultural consultant with USAID. When asked about the uniqueness of farming in the Cuyama Valley Jean said,

“When we started growing vegetables, people said ‘No way. You can’t grow anything on those hills. Nothing works.’ Or ‘Oh, you want to be a wannabe farmer?’ The major problem that you encounter is the weather conditions. I worked with Meg’s mother in upstate New York to learn about the [growing] conditions [here in the US]. The only thing you have is your green thumb and your will to do it, and the rest of the time you have to observe and see what problems you have. From 2005 to now, there have always been new problems and new solutions. You just have to observe the problem. You have to go to other local ranches and farms and ask how to solve those problems. You have to see what works for you and you also have to study. You have to communicate with other farmers here.”

March through December Meg can be found making jams with the plethora of fruit the farm produces and picklingPickling: The process of preserving or extending the shelf life of food by either anaerobic fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar. This food preservation method gives the food a salty or sour taste. the bounty of artichokes, beets, and other vegetables they grow. Meg’s inspiration for preserving was passed down by her mother who was always canningCanning: A method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. Canning provides a shelf life that typically ranges from one to five years, although under specific circumstances, it can be much longer. foods. Today, she uses her mom’s pickle book – a collection of family recipes – for making the wide variety of preserved products they offer, extending the harvest and building food system resiliency in the high (food) desertFood Desert: Urban area where residents have restricted access to affordable, healthy food due to low income or limited to no grocery stores within convenient traveling distance. of Cuyama Valley.

Preserving the harvest in a food desert

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