Meet a Farmer: John Taylor of Taylor Brothers Farms
Taylor Brothers Farms, Inc. may be the largest grower and producer of organic prunes in the world, but John Taylor sure is humble about it. We had the chance to catch up with John a few weeks ago after the last rain of the season and had an interesting chat. We covered everything from pruning trees to worm beds, and he even offered up some practical advice for anyone wanting to get into farming.
CA GROWN: What are you doing today?
John:Today we are checking the fields and doing a little bit of summer pruning on young trees and thinning on older trees. It’s starting to rain, so I think we will shut it down in bit. We’ve also been cultivating land and irrigating orchards.
CA GROWN: What is your favorite thing about farming?
John: I enjoy the challenges of farming, figuring out the health and nutrition of the trees: what will make them grow best and produce a steady crop. We try to bring a consistency to a crop by thinning the trees, which evens out the crop and produces better sizing and quality of fruit.
I also like being outside —there’s something enjoyable about being out in the dirt —and the feeling of accomplishment when you see the fruit on the trees. I enjoy planting new orchards and seeing them progress to produce a nice crop. Trees will last thirty years with every new planting. Farmers are eternal optimists; always looking forward to the next year to be even better.
CA GROWN: How do you give back to the community?
John:We are involved with the industry, including the California Prune Board, and the local water districts. I also serve on a couple of boards. We contribute to the Farm Bureau’s auctions and fundraisers as well as the local 4H and FFA organizations. It’s important to encourage the next generation of farmers and leaders in ag. My brother has been involved with local community cleanup efforts as well.
CA GROWN: What drew you into the farming profession?
John: Though I was raised on a 100-acre varied fruit farm, I honestly didn’t think I would come back to farming; however, I always worked on the farm during and after college. When my dad decided to retire, he suggested that I form a partnership with my brother and continue farming the land. My brother had already been farming, so together we leased the land from our dad. Equipment was included in the lease, which helped a lot. I’ve always enjoyed being outside. If I hadn’t decided on farming, I would have gone into forestry.
CA GROWN: What are your hobbies or past times when you are not farming?
John: Farming is not an easy occupation to get away from, but when I can, I like to read, snow ski, duck hunt, and hike. I haven’t done any backpacking, just day hiking. I generally find time in the morning or evenings to read.
CA GROWN: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into farming?
John: If your family is already farming, that’s a great way to get started. If someone is new to farming, there are several management companies they can work with or work for. There are a lot of service sectors in agriculture, which is also a good way to get involved.
People in farming and the agriculture business are relaxed and enjoy their lifestyle, making them warm and welcoming to outsiders. Farmers are friendly by nature and always willing to help newcomers.
CA GROWN: What are one or two things you do on the farm to be sustainable?
John: We are an organic farm, which, by definition, makes us more sustainable. As an organic farm, we plant a lot of cover crops. We also use biologicals on our cover crops to grow more beneficial bacteria that will help ward off diseases.
Nothing goes to waste at Taylor Brothers. For example, we put a worm bed in to clean up our waste water so that we can reuse the water for irrigation. We do a lot of things to run a sustainable farm, but those are just a few examples.