Larry Santos has been part of our Earthbound Farm family for nearly 20 years. Yet his agricultural roots go even deeper. Larry grew up on the Cauley Ranch in the Salinas Valley of California. And today, he manages that very same farm for Earthbound.
A native of South Monterey County, Larry says, “Growing up, my dad was a grower contact, which is a person who orchestrates farming contracts. I used to ride around in his pick-up truck and see him do his work. Agriculture is what I know.”
By the time he was 14 years old, Larry was in the business himself, working for local farmers in the summers. “I was moving sprinkler pipe and bailing hay. They really put me through the wringer.”
When it came time to go to college, Larry realized agriculture was his true calling, and he has focused on growing the best possible produce and caring for the land ever since.
“It was 1995. Hardly anyone knew about organic,” says Larry of his choice to grow without conventional synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. He was working on a piece of land in the Salinas Valley that had not been farmed for 15 years. He encouraged his boss to give this “new, experimental” growing method a try.
“So we gave it a go, and I really got addicted. It takes skill to grow without synthetic chemicals. It is really hard to make an organic field look good. We don’t have the benefit of conventional nitrogen fertilizers, it takes years to learn. And we struggled, but we figured it out.”
From that moment on, Larry was hooked. His farm was transitioned to certified organic by 1998, and what started as 200 acres is now 600 on that piece of property today. Currently, Larry manages 16,000 acres of certified organic farmland, producing 48,000 crop acres of produce a season, on four different properties in and around King City, Calif. for Earthbound Farm.
Larry believes in organic for many reasons, but what rises to the top? Safety. “I have friends who are conventional growers, and they go home at night and have to shower and change clothes before they will touch their babies, because of the chemicals.” With organic practices, Larry does not have to worry about that.
Today, he is the Manager of Salinas Valley Farm Operations for Earthbound Farm, ensuring his fellow Earthbound farmers have the seeds, planting schedules and support they need to grow the best quality produce possible.
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