Andrew Brutlag’s path to becoming a farmer was different than most. He wasn’t raised on a farm, but he fondly recalls spending time on the five acres in Hayward Hills where his grandfather grew plums and apricots.
Brutlag decided to try his hand at farming after a decade working for the Farmers’ Rice Cooperative, where he got to observe all aspects of the manufacturing side of agriculture. Owning his own operation afforded him the change in lifestyle he desired for his family. “Our family gets to grow up in the open air, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is a different kind of life than most people live nowadays, and it changes the way you think about things,” explains Brutlag.
Today, he farms 40 acres of walnuts in Yolo County and takes pride in an attentive stewardship of the land. “We live on our farm. We take care of it, and so it takes care of us,” says Brutlag. “Healthy farms grow healthy crops, and my trees show that.”
He relies on mentors who have been in agriculture for decades to advise him on sound agronomy practices, such as growing cover crops in between rows for soil health and minimizing the use of industrial ag products.
As chief operating officer at Next Generation Foods, Brutlag understands firsthand that quality food starts in the field, and his farm is no exception. “When you have the best practices in place on the farm, then you get the best product outcomes for customers,” he says. “It’s a good thing to know how and where the food you put in your body is produced.”