Name: John Bowdish
Farm: Yankee Farm
Location: Santa Barbara, CA (near Hendry’s Beach)
What they grow: Yankee Farm specializes in three varieties of lettuce, with its top sellers being spring arugula, sweet lettuce, and little gems. Additionally, the farm also grows carrots, beets, Savoy cabbage, Broccoli di Cicco (an Italian heirloom varietal), snow peas, zucchini, and tomatoes.
Where to buy: Farmers markets including Tuesday in downtown Santa Barbara and Saturday in downtown Santa Barbara.
In season now: In addition to a year-round supply of mixed greens, the farm is currently selling cooking pumpkins – an heirloom varietal from 1886 that is great for pies and baked goods.
Their story: One of the original Farmers Market growers, Yankee Farm is proud to call Santa Barbara home. For more than 30 years, the Bowdish family has been growing in the area, producing high-quality, year-round produce.
“We have a really fantastic location for growing, a ‘winter luxury’ against harsh conditions,” said Bowdish. “It really never gets too hot or too cold, so our product is always consistent.”
As a small-scale farmer, Bowdish has kept lettuce as his anchor, a crop that has brought him a stream of regular costumers. While he does not have a personal favorite, he likes offering customers a variety.
“I like giving them a choice; it’s the best way to do it!” said Bowdish.
Utilizing organic methods of growing, Yankee Farm utilizes composted steer manure and fish meal for fertilizer. The crops are rotated as a way to control pests, rots, and fungus. The key is figuring out what time of the year the crops grow the best.
“If our product is not grown well, we have to discontinue it,” said Bowdish. “I’m all about consistency and putting care into my product.”
Giving his plants lots of personal attention, most of the greens are hand-watered. Tending and caring for his crops, Bowdish has enjoyed his life on the farm and is celebrating his 65th birthday this month.
“I have no regrets; farming has been very rewarding,” said Bowdish. “I enjoy my regular customers. It makes me think I’m doing something right, something worthwhile for the community.”