When Ed Sills started farming with his father Tom in 1976, organic and sustainable farming practices were in their infancy. But Sills recognized early on that adopting a new approach to growing food was the way forward.
“It appeared to me that a lot of the tools that we had to use, the chemicals and fertilizers, weren’t working to my satisfaction and yields weren’t necessarily good enough to make a profit,” explains Sills, who studied forestry in college. “Sustainable agriculture fit in with my vision of farming and with my forestry background because it takes a long-term view of things.”
Today, Sills’ main focus is to enhance the natural resources on his farm, especially the soil. “We think of everything in terms of our soil resource and how we can maintain and improve it,” he says. Sills is continually experimenting with crop rotation, planting cover crops and leaving crop residues in place—all in an effort to build richer organic matter.
As a supplier to Next Generation Foods, Pleasant Grove Farms is dedicated to bringing the best possible product to market. That’s why Sills has invested in cutting-edge equipment like a high-tech color sorter that recognizes damaged kernels and foreign materials—a must for enhancing quality and food safety.
Sills is heartened by the public’s growing interest in how food is produced, and he credits Next Generation Foods with strengthening the vital connection between farmers and consumers. “We have a good relationship with them and we appreciate them a great deal,” he says.
At the end of the day, it’s those connections that keep Sills and his operation going. “I enjoy farming and I’d like to see it be a vibrant business in California. The more people know that we’re out here producing a great product, the better off we all are.”