Kate Hitchcock’s office is her truck. As a harvester and grower, she is out and about a lot, driving to different fields to check on the crops. She loves the constant change of scenery and being a steward of the land.
Kate grew up on a farm and is the fifth generation of her family to call Salinas, California, home. She remembers picking produce right out of the field and consuming it at night for dinner. She graduated with a degree in finance from Santa Clara University, and worked in sales at Earthbound Farm for several years before returning to her roots.
“From childhood, I remember stopping at various ranches on our way to King City, checking on the various crops. I was always excited when we reached the ranch because that meant I could drive! I have so many fond memories of riding around with my dad. Little did I know—I think it was to give my mom a break,” she says with a laugh. But that didn’t change the fact that farming is in her blood, and her desire to explore that pathway led her right back to what she grew up knowing and loving—working on the farm.
She doesn’t like to call herself a farmer, instead calling herself a harvester and grower. She is quick to give the farmer title instead to Danny Sites, who she says “makes it all possible” from a farming perspective. But whether she wants the credit or not, she is an integral part of the farming operation in her own right.
One thing her dad has always told her is to be open-minded. “He always told me, don’t be afraid to ask questions and bring new ideas to the table,” she says. She has taken this advice to heart. In walking through the grocery store one day, she found herself wondering about opening up a market for new organic products. She started asking around, and this led to her becoming the woman in charge of a new organic product trial for Earthbound Farm. She planted several different varieties to test for large-scale organic farming, and our organic offerings were expanded, thanks to her efforts.
Asked what it’s like to be a woman in an extremely male dominated profession, she says, “It has personally never affected me. I am finding more and more women are involved in agriculture.”
Kate has been in farming for over ten years of her adult life, but she is still learning and growing. She says she will never be an “expert,” as there are always things to learn. There are constant challenges with weather, new technology, ever-changing industry standards, and more.
However, she’s excited to see what the future will bring, and is hopeful that organics in general are made more affordable for, and accessible to, everyone.