Featured Farmer Spotlight: Emma Torbert of The Clover Leaf Farm

Every week, we’ll spotlight a FarmsReach Featured Farmer. Our Featured Farmers are brimming with great ideas and knowledge to share with the farming community. Feeling a spark of curiosity? There’s no question too simple or tough. Ask a question or add a Conversation and we’ll be sure it’s answered within a day or two.

Emma Torbert of The Clover Leaf Farm

This week, we’re featuring Emma Torbert, from The Clover Leaf Farm. Emma got her masters in Horticulture from University of California at Davis and currently works for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI).

FarmsReach: How many years have you been farming?

Emma Torbert: 15 years

FR: How many generations of farmers are in your family?

ET: Two generations.

FR: Which question(s) are you most asked by other farmers?

ET: Is marketing your biggest problem and how do you solve it? Yes, and it’s a multi-pronged solution, both direct and wholesale. Basically, that it’s difficult to do enough marketing or oversell your product.

FR: How did you get into farming?  What do you love most about it?

ET: I got into it by interning on an organic farm during my summers in college. My granddad was a farmer, but farmed mainly cattle and corn, which wasn’t my interest. I love that many branches of science, math, writing and communication are all wrapped up in farming, and that it is the big puzzle of how to farm the best that you can.

FR: What was the most important piece of advice you received when you were getting started? Or, what single piece of advice would you give a new beginning farmer?

ET: Other farmers advised me to have either another job or enough money saved up to support yourself for three years. I think there are more options out there now, [such as] with incubator farms, so that’s not necessarily true any longer. I would try out many different kinds of farms as an employee and make sure you are choosing the crops/area/scale that most interest you before settling down.

FR: What are you most excited about that’s happening on your farm?

ET: I think I am most excited about the EQIP grant we got for this fall to plant an insectary cover crop in the orchard. I think in many ways, that will be the first step towards managing weeds better, better nutrition management, and better pest management practices.

FR: What do you feel is the next big thing (or most exciting thing) in agriculture?

ET: I think that farmers keeping better track (and having better tools to help us keep track) of how much money, yields, energy and water [we] are using will help us realize what scale of farming & practices are more sustainable. I think it will be hard to share that data initially, and also the data collection is not stream-lined right now, but once that happens, I think there will be big shifts in agriculture to change practices.

FR: Tell us a little about your CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

ET: I have a small fruit-only CSA [The Clover Leaf Farm] (four members in Davis!). But I provide fruit to a number of other CSA operations.

FR: Where can customers find your products: markets, restaurants, stores, etc?

ET: The Clover Leaf Farm, Collins and Kingfisher Farmstand is off I-80 on Kidwell exit and is open Sundays 11AM – 6PM. Heavy Dirt Farm sells our fruit at the Oak Park Farmers’ Market in Sacramento, and I sell to the Davis Food Co-op and Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco. I also sell to Soil Born’s Farmstand as well as a few restaurants: Ginger Elizabeth in Sacramento and June Taylor’s Still Room.

FR: Which aspect, skill or part of farming do you feel is your “specialty” or favorite?

ET: Networking with my community — I think because I live at a co-housing [property] in Davis, I interact with my community in many different ways.

FR: Which piece of equipment can you not live without, or what would your dream new equipment be?

ET: I can’t live without a pick-up truck right now. I would love to be able to transport my fruit more sustainably (by bike or perhaps an electric/hybrid vehicle someday). I am also planning to rebuild my orchard sprayer this winter so I can use less fuel and time in applying my organic sprays (very time consuming right now).

FR: What do you like to do in your free time?

ET: Hike, swim, cross-country ski, ultimate Frisbee, cook, garden. 🙂

Learn more about The Clover Leaf Farm and become a member of their exclusively-fruit CSA farm box program. Or, find their products at a farmstand just out of Davis and of I-80.

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