Maria Catalan is a former field worker. In 1994 she was exposed to organic farming practices at the Rural Development Center in Salinas. Frustrated with working with middlemen and food brokers as well as getting paid too little too late or not at all, she decided that direct marketing might be a better avenue to explore. She got involved with many CSAs, farmers’ markets, and eventually started selling directly to restaurants.
While she was growing up in Mexico her grandfather grew melons and other foods to feed her family. Maria wants to pass this knowledge on to her own four children. Maria believes that children, whether or not they intend to be farmers, should know how to raise their own food in a way that respects the air and the earth.
Chef Canales says: “This is a real family farm. They supply us with some of the most beautiful brassicas, and were the first to provide us with dry-farmed heirloom tomatoes. They know their climate and they manipulate how they grow certain things based on feedback from their customers.”
Community Supported Agricultural Programs
The farm is partnered with Northern California high schools and universities to bring students to the farm to work, eat home-cooked Mexican food, work at the farmers markets, and get a sense of farming life in a Latino community.
Maria believes in sharing her experiences with other farmers in her community. Currently, she is working with approximately a dozen small farms run by other Latinos, trying to get their farms certified organic so they can be paid the wages she believes they deserve.
Length of relationship with Oliveto
14.4 acres in Hollister, CA
Tomatoes and strawberries.
Secondary crops: chard, citrus, kale
Organizations / Certification
CCOF since 2005
Restaurants including Slanted Door, Greens, and Acme Chophouse
San Francisco Ferry Building – Saturdays
Berkeley Derby Street – Tuesdays
Berkeley Shattuck Avenue – Thursdays
Berkeley Downtown – Saturdays