In 2008, Jeremy and Megan Raff returned to family property west of Lompoc to care for his aging grandfather and start their own farming life. A decade later, Dare 2 Dream Farms is renowned for its eggs, chicks, and chicken coops, not to mention seasonal produce that’s sold around Santa Barbara County.
I met the Raffs last September when they hosted a dinner prepared by Chef Augusto Caudillo from Scratch Kitchen in Lompoc and paired with Transcendence wines by Joey Gummere, who sources from the nearby Sta. Rita Hills. The evening began with an extensive tour of the farm and the chicken coop operation and then settled into a dinner featuring eggs, chicken, and late-summer/early-fall produce.
Dare 2 Dream is hosting another meal on July 20, starting with brick-oven bread and creamy compound butters, then focusing on summer crops such as heirloom tomatoes and squash, with stone fruits for dessert. Free-range chicken and eggs will be showcased throughout the experience as well, and every ingredient that they don’t grow themselves will be sourced from other small regional producers. Each dish will be paired with Palmina Wines, whose proprietor Steve Clifton is expected to attend and discuss the wines.
There’s also a brunch and gardening seminar on August 17 with Warren Keller of @WarrensGarden and Rachel Meeker of Wanderlust Wildcraft, and a Harvest Farm Dinner on October 12, in conjunction with Sta. Rita Hills winemakers.
I recently reconnected with the Raffs to learn more about the property.
Give us a brief history of the property.
Jeremy: The property was purchased in 1969 by my grandfather, Mike Raff. I grew up on the property with him and he taught me to build and repair structures and equipment and care for the land. Megan and I moved back to the farm in 2008 to care for Grandpa, clean up the property, and become good stewards of the land.
The farm business started almost by accident. We purchased chickens for Grandpa to enjoy and started selling the extra eggs. From there we began selling chickens, more eggs, and then coops. As we continued to grow and scale the business over the last five years, we added produce, livestock, and farm events.
Although Grandpa has since passed and we have diversified to ensure the farm continues, our primary goal remains the same: to educate others about a healthier way to live, about growing and eating your own food, and ultimately being the change you wish to see in the world.
What does the farm produce now?
Megan: We raise chicks to different ages to help urban residents keep them as pets and for eggs, and we also build coops and offer poultry supplies to provide everything our customers need to raise healthy chickens.
For those not inclined to raise or grow their own food, we farm all-naturally and sell locally. Our free-range eggs are sold at local, natural marketplaces including New Frontiers in Solvang, and the Isla Vista Food Co-op. The Dare 2 Dream Farm Stand on our property offers veggies, fruits, flowers, chicken and duck eggs, baked goods, natural body products, seasonings, and other farm-fresh goodies to customers through an honor system.
Produce lovers can get a weekly CSA Box filled with seasonal veggies. Plus, we love to teach others to do what we do, so we offer a variety of farm and food-making classes.
Tell me a little more about the chicken coop business.
Jeremy: We started building chicken coops in 2013. They range from modest coops that hold two to three chickens to elaborate, multistory replicas of mansions. We offer custom coop installations from San Francisco to San Diego.
Over the past year, our focus has been on building coops in such a way that anyone can assemble them. This fall, we will develop the manuals to begin shipping the coops all across the lower 48 states.
Why did you start hosting dinners on-site?
Megan: In 2015, we funded a Kickstarter project for our farm’s cold storage building, and as a thank-you to our biggest backers, we hosted two private farm dinners for them and up to eight guests. The dinners were a huge success, and we found that they were a great way to get our bearings for hosting special food-centered community events that reconnect people with their local farms. Since then we’ve hosted two to three dinners per year, featuring local winemakers or breweries.
What can visitors expect when they come to a dinner?
Jeremy: The best and most authentic farm-to-table dinner money can buy! Guests arrive and enjoy an appetizer and a glass of wine or beer, and then embark on a brief farm tour. I lead the tour and explain the history behind the farm, how we’ve grown over the years, and most importantly, what the future holds.
After the tour, a specially curated farm-to-table dinner will commence. The cows and goats they just met provide the dairy, the chickens provide eggs and meat, and the garden provides the colorful vegetables and spices. The delicious wine or beer that is paired with each course comes from a local winery or brewery. After dinner, guests can relax around the fire pit.
Ultimately, we just want them to enjoy the evening outdoors [and] the magic of the farm and know that we appreciate their support in joining us at our special property.
4•1•1 | The Dare 2 Dream Farms MidSummer Eve Farm Dinner with Palmina Wines is on Saturday, July 20, 5:30 p.m. at 890 La Salle Canyon Road, Lompoc. See dare2dreamfarms.com for tickets.