Jeff and Annie Main have been developing their organic farm, Good Humus Produce, on 20 acres in Capay, CA, since 1976. When they arrived on the property northwest of Sacramento in Yolo County, there was a single olive tree. The Mains built a beautiful house, a barn, greenhouses, and other infrastructure and their plantings include hedgerows of native trees that serve as windbreaks and a source of fuelwood, as well as 10 acres of annual crops, a large flower and herb garden, and a diverse orchard, all organic, providing forage and habitat for pollinators, predatory insects, and other wildlife. They built a business selling produce through the Davis Farmers’ Market, food co-ops, and a CSA that provides vegetables and fruit once a week for 48 weeks out of the year to 175 members in the Sacramento region, Davis, Woodland, and San Francisco. Optional fruit and flowers, along with bread from a local bakery, are available, and Good Humus supplies a “winter and fruit share” for some of the members of Live Power Farm CSA, which Equity Trust assisted in creating an easement, that we hold and that inspired the Mains’ efforts.
At the end of October 2018, the Mains placed a specialized agricultural conservation easement on their farm to ensure that it always remains a place where farmers can build a life growing food for their community.
Equity Trust has a long partnership with the Mains and Good Humus Produce. An Equity Trust loan in 2001 allowed the Mains to build a new house on their land. For two decades, Equity Trust supported the Mains as they worked to realize a vision, beyond their own tenure on the land, for permanently protecting Good Humus Produce as a working farm that will continue to provide food for the surrounding communities. Over the years, Equity Trust provided guidance and technical assistance on the development of an easement that permanently protects the land, requiring that the land be farmed sustainably, that the farmer(s) live on the land, and that at least half of the farmer’s income be derived from farming the land. It also ensures the farm remains affordable to future farmers. In addition to consulting on the easement itself, Equity Trust accepted donations to a fund that was used to help purchase the easement.
The Mains have been actively involved in their agricultural community in many ways for many years, having helped to start both the food co-op and the farmers market in Davis, CA, and their community in turn supported the Good Humus Produce protection effort, which was boosted by the interest of the Sacramento Natural Food Co-op, the Davis Food Co-op, and the Columbia Foundation. Together with California Farmlink and other partners, in 2009 they created One Farm at a Time, a fundraising effort designed to give “Co-op shoppers the opportunity to invest in the future of the farms that provide their food.” With Good Humus as their first featured project, by 2014, the effort had raised the funds needed: $300,000 in addition to the approximately $100,000 held by Equity Trust to protect this farm.
However, the question remained: who would hold the easement? When no California-based land trust stepped forward, Equity Trust agreed to take it on. Further work followed—easement drafting, surveys, appraisals. Finally, in the fall of 2018, the Mains closed on the easement and held a celebration at the farm.
Building their farm has been the Mains’ life work, and they see it as even more, that the full value of this community resource can only be realized as it evolves under the stewardship of generations of farmers. Thanks to the Mains and One Farm at a Time, this will happen.
For more on Jeff and Annie Main and Good Humus Produce, see this feature story from Farm Aid and Chuck Schultz’s film, The Last Crop.