Location: Santa Paula, Ventura County, CA
Bon Appétit Chef: Helene Kennan, the Getty Center
Why I am a Farmer:
My husband and I are farmers. We farm because it’s our livelihood. We have been farming for almost all our lives. We are small growers – we only cultivate 15 acres, but that’s how we make our living.
What I Grow:
We are fortunate to be able to grow things 12 months out of the year, but what we plant changes with the seasons. During the summer months our primary crops are tomatoes, some heirloom varietals, and squash. During the winter, we focus on cultivating a wide variety of greens.
What Sustainability Means to Me:
Sustainability means a lot to us as we are organic growers. In order to maintain our organic status we have to grow our crop, without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. We make every attempt to have a closed-loop farm: my plant and food waste are turned into compost and we strategically plant our garden to minimize the presence of pests.
How Bon Appétit Management Company is Different:
Bon Appétit is different because the company is dedicated to using local ingredients. Working and establishing relationships with local growers enables them to use locally grown produce; I don’t know of many companies that verbalize a commitment and then follow it as an operating principle as well as Bon Appétit.
How Bon Appétit has Helped me Thrive:
Doing business with an account as large as the Getty Center and getting to work with Helene is a huge shot in the arm for small growers like us. The fact that Bon Appétit and chefs like Helene seek out and are committed to working with small local growers means a lot to people like us. Their support helps us to make a living, we wouldn’t be able to continue farming without their support.
One Person I Admire at Bon Appétit:
The fact that Helene, a woman, has accomplished so much at a young age is truly admirable. She is deeply passionate about her craft and simultaneously connected to the community. She actively supports the people with whom she does business, and that sets her apart from a lot of people in this business. She might not tell you this; but a few years back the house of a family farmer that had been a part of the farmer’s market for years burned to the ground and Helene put on a fundraiser for the family. She recruited local chefs and restaurateurs to participate in an event to raise money to help the family rebuild their home. This type of caring just exemplifies her connection to the community.