DARRA ADLER, Farmers Market Coordinator City of Santa Monica
Who: Jerry Rutiz of Rutiz Family Farms
Where: 30 acres in Arroyo Grande
Why: Jerry grew up in Los Angeles and studied Agriculture at Cal State San Luis Obispo. He worked on farms for three years before leasing his own land in 1981. During his first couple of years of farming he sold his produce on the wholesale market and was not making much money. Jerry’s mom was one of the first volunteers at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market. She told Jerry to load up a truck and bring his produce down to the Farmers Market in Santa Monica. The Farmers Market proved successful for Jerry. He listened carefully to what his customers wanted (herbs, vine ripened tomatoes, etc) and started growing them. Some customers brought him seeds from other countries, vegetables they missed from home, and Jerry grew those, too. His customers also wanted pesticide free produce and Jerry grows all of his produce without pesticides. Jerry currently grows over 50 varieties of vegetables, in addition to berries, herbs, and flowers. In the next few weeks be on the lookout for shelling peas, green garlic, broccoli, and snow peas.
Why: As a small farmer, Jerry could not make a living without Farmers Markets. He loves interacting with his customers and also has a Farm Stand on his farm in Arroyo Grande. He also has a local CSA in Arroyo Grande, too. You can find Rutiz Family Farms at the Wednesday Market in Santa Monica.