Petty Ranch: Finding Balance and Planning for the Future

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Chris Sayer is a successful fifth generation farmer in Ventura County. He grows citrus and avocados, and experiments with other specialty crops such as figs, persimmons, apples, and apricots. Chris returned to the family farm in 2001 and has become passionate about soil health and regenerative agriculture.

“I inherited well-maintained but old trees. So I’ve had to look down the road, replace trees, and get set up for the next 30-40 years.”

He discusses his ever evolving soil health and IPM practices as he continues to adapt to climate change and drought and to improve the land. Since the trees will last 30-40 years, he wants to give them the best soil possible, using 20 different species of cover crops over the past 15 years. Chris has seen organic matter greatly increase. Petty Ranch uses beneficial insects to manage pests and reduce chemical inputs. Lastly, Chris focuses on water efficiency, which has allowed him to continue farming successfully during times of drought.

It’s important to Chris to work with nature and find a balance.

“We should always be looking at impacts on the farm and keep them as minimal as possible, and localized to farm, with maximized benefits.”
Photo by Chris Sayer

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