Name: Ellaine De La Cruz
Farm: De La Cruz Farm
Location: Morro Bay
What they grow: Broccoli, carrots, onions, spinach, snow peas, snap peas, beets, green beans, tomatoes, leeks, fava beans, romaine lettuce, onions, and a wide selection of peppers.
Where to buy: Farmers’ markets, including Saturday in downtown Santa Barbara and neighboring S.L.O. County markets.
In season now: Butternut squash, baby kale, broccoli, carrots, and Manzano peppers. This spicy Peruvian pepper is in the family of the habanero pepper, a very hot addition to any dish!
Their story: For more than 40 years, De La Cruz Farm has been a family-run affair. As one of the first vendors at the local markets, Ellaine De La Cruz remembers them from an early age and still enjoys working them alongside her mother, Linda.
“I’ve been working this market since I was 7,” said De La Cruz. “While it’s our livelihood, it’s also a fun job. I love spending time with my mom.”
A self-taught farmer, Ellaine’s father, Andy De La Cruz, came to the Central Coast from the Philippines, first growing grapes and then starting his own farm. Using lunar and solar cycles for farming, De La Cruz Farm remains true to the oldest traditions of biodynamic agriculture.
“My dad doesn’t always go by the book; he goes with his head and heart,” said De La Cruz. “He is old-school and is proud of his work.”
With her mom affectionately known as the “Pea Lady,” one of their most popular products is their sugar and snap peas, which are scheduled to hit markets in the upcoming weeks. “My favorite crop is definitely our snap peas: I really look forward to them!” said De La Cruz. “Our specific varietal grows a bit taller and is super sweet.”
As a smaller family farm (15 acres), the whole family helps with harvesting and getting the produce ready for the markets. While De La Cruz admits there is a lot of work involved, the art of farming is very worthwhile to her, particularly being outside and meeting people.
“It’s very important that the consumer remembers that without farms, there is no food!” said De La Cruz. “My favorite bumper sticker has always been ‘When you sit down to dinner, remember a farmer.’”