Dirty Girl Produce
Santa Cruz, CA
Joe Schirmer, along with 5 full-time and 20 seasonal workers.
32 acres in Watsonville, about 90 miles from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
In 1997, Joe Schirmer began working for Dirty Girl Produce and two years later took the helm from the original “dirty girls” who started the farm in 1995. Joe graduated from the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden apprenticeship program with a certificate in ecological horticulture. Inspired by the French intensive gardening method, he has adapted tractor farming to incorporate its principles.
California Certified Organic Farmer since 1995
Joe maintains soil fertility by adding compost and aged animal manures. He also plants seasonal cover crops to add nitrogen, reduce erosion, and improve soil structure.
Overhead and drip irrigation.
Hoe and tractor cultivation, hand weeding, propane flame weeder.
“Treating the soil as though it were an organism with an immune system,” Joe says, “makes it healthy.” As a result, pest problems are few, and they are controlled primarily by covering vulnerable plant starts with Reemay and rotating crops.
Dirty Girl Produce is famous for their dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes. This waterless method of growing sometimes yields only one-third as many tomatoes, but the resulting fruits are dense with flavor.