Meet the Modern Farmer: Gustavo Jimenez
Photograph by Stella Kalinina
Jimenez Family Farm Santa Ynez, California
Forty-three years ago, Gustavo Jimenez came to California as an undocumented immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico. “Like everyone else,” he says, “I washed dishes, landscaped golf courses, and picked cherries, apricots, and tomatoes.” Then, amid the rows of elephant garlic at Bar RG Ranch, Jimenez fell hard for the farmer’s daughter. “I asked Marcie out over and over until she said yes,” he recalls.
The couple, who married in 1985 (granting Jimenez citizenship), continue to work the same land, rechristened Jimenez Family Farm. Together, they grow about 150 crops, from cucumbers to figs, without chemicals, but have yet to seek organic certification. “That takes time and money, and my head is not in money,” explains Jimenez, currently in his 60s. The farm’s lambs, goats, rabbits, chickens, and pigs are also raised sustainably, on forage.
The Jimenezes’ son, George, a 30-year-old Berkeley grad and law intern, pitches in on the farm, while daughter Christie, 28, moves the merch at 15 different farmers markets. “I love the markets,” says their dad. “People are so nice and polite. Our customers know us and trust us. That’s why they keep coming back.”