Organic California Orange Farming with the Blue Heron Farm

I grew up in a steel town in the East. My dad worked in the steel mills. At some point in my teens, I guess, I decided I didn’t want to really work in the steel mill. Was back in that, get-back-to-the-land days of the ‘60s. Oranges had always intrigued me, being from the East, and seeing travel logs and newsreels of orange groves. We started farming conventionally, and we were using the conventional chemicals and fertilizers that all of my neighbors were using at that time. And, as our son came along, was born up here, I started thinking more about going back to an organic approach. I was a little afraid to tackle so many acres organically. I was familiar with organic gardening on a small scale, like a 50-by-100 garden, but I somehow it was just too intimidated by trying to do 20 acres that way. But, for his health, and just our general principles that we were trying to live by, it was, we knew was time to make a transition. There were support groups starting to come along in the organic world so that we managed to find our way along. It took a while, but we’ve been farming organically now for about 27 years. I just hope we can stay here and just keep doing it as long as our health is good and and there’s a desire for what we do. Well, we have a grandson now, I guess what would make me happy is that he might become interested in farming. Our own son, who loves it out here, has more, you know, kind of gone and lived in the Bay Area doing environmental restoration work. So, he’s in a pretty good industry, and a righteous one, but the farming wasn’t really, didn’t feel really cut out for it, I guess. But perhaps his little boy, and my grandson, might be. That would be fun. To get him out here and get get him involved in it. Somebody to carry it on. I worry about that; is that some day that somebody would get a hold of the place and this stuff wouldn’t mean much to them, it would be like just a a landscape feature rather than a lifestyle. So, you can see it’s full of juice. Just going to have a little taste. Yeah, that orange is ready. Delicious. Got just the right sugar and acid balance in it. Well, it warms my heart to know that people are appreciating what you do, because even though we have to have the bottom line as with any business, we have to make a profit at the end of the day, it’s getting there is so much more satisfactory when you’re working with people like The FruitGuys, who appreciate organic growing and appreciate organic farmers and the food that they produce. So lucky to have landed here you know, I mean, I wouldn’t trade it for it any place else. To look out our windows every morning and see our orange trees, to see the mountains in the West and in the East, and the river out front, and it’s just, it’s just been a really great life. Well, it’s back to work for us orange farmers. We’ll see you next time. (laughs) (music)

4 thoughts on “Organic California Orange Farming with the Blue Heron Farm

  1. John Ceteras is one of the most remarkable human beings ever…

    If we had more men on this planet like John, then this planet would be heaven on earth.

    I had the luxury of working with him side-by-side for 5 years. We spent hours, weeks, months, working the land, sitting and chatting about life in the 'Nut House' , listening to jazz and swing on the radio, sorting walnuts, hand polishing tons of oranges, picking tomatoes and working the land with honor and pride.

    Thank you, John.


  2. Jonh Ceteras is a remarkable man.

    I had the luxury of working with him side-by-side for 5 years as his farm-hand.

    John became like a Father to me. His integrity, honesty, and passion for what he believes in changed my life forever…and now, as a father myself, I can share his wisdom with my son.

    Working at Blue Heron Farm was never a job for me, it was an education in how to be a decent man…I will never forget you, John.

    Thank you. I miss you deeply.

    Much love,

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