Lee Carter came to Earthbound Farm by way of walking. Literally, Lee used to “walk the fields” for one of Earthbound’s farmers. In the farm business, this means scouting for pests and weeds to help growers find organic solutions to keep their crops healthy. Today, Lee farms over 15,000 acres for Earthbound in and around Hollister, California.
“I like the challenge of organic,” Lee says. “I like that you can grow clean, healthy crops without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. When they look just as good as conventional, without any of those inputs, that is rewarding to me.”
Lee has farming in his blood and grew up near King City, Calif., a traditionally agriculture-heavy community in the Salinas Valley. Lee says, “My parents were cattle ranchers, but we had lots of friends in produce production.”
Even so, it was not until about 12 years ago when he began scouting fields, that Lee became familiar with organic production—growing produce without synthetic chemicals and fertilizers. Today Lee grows high density crops for Earthbound, including spinach, baby leaf, chard, mizuna, baby kale, and multi-leaf, as well as celery, broccoli, romaine, and radicchio.
Side note, Lee is a sucker for how “beautiful radicchio is just sitting in the field,” its purple and white leaves bunched up in cabbage-like clusters.
So, what does an average day look like for Lee? Overseeing 45 employees on multiple plots of land means lots of driving around. It also means he has cultivated a great team that he trusts. Lee says of his farms, “Between planting, cultivating, harvesting, you name it, it’s a busy place!”
And Lee wants to let you in on a secret; his farm parcels are very clean and organized. He works hard to keep his fields weed free. “We hand weed everything,” he proclaims.
For Lee, besides enjoying the challenge of growing, organic is important to him for his future and the future of the next generation. “I want to protect my health, the health of our workers, and the health of consumers. I want to do my part in protecting the environment as well,” says Lee.
While Lee currently does not have any children, when he does decide to raise a family, “I definitely hope they decide to pursue a career in agriculture,” he says.
In the last seven years as an Earthbound Farms Grower, Lee has found his home in organic, with no sign of turning back.