Happy Quail Farms
Location: East Palo Alto, CA
David and Karin Winsberg, with their two sons, Andreas and Felipe.
2 acres comprise several backyard plots and greenhouses in East Palo Alto, about 35 miles from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market; 1 acre is in greenhouses and 1 acre is in field production.
David grew up in Florida, where he participated in 4H. Farming became a full-time profession for him shortly after he moved to the Bay Area in 1978. The farm (originally a hobby quail farm) has evolved into an “artisanal specialty urban micro-farm.” David has found his niche in specialty peppers and now produces over 30 varieties of sweet and hot peppers. The farm uses eight of their pepper varieties to make paprika by sun drying, dehydrating, and then grinding them in a corn mill.
Climate-controlled farming allows David the ability to produce peppers long before and after they can be produced in the field. His greenhouses are heated in the early spring and the late fall using natural gas in a radiant heat system—the most efficient heating source available for greenhouse production. David also grows crops outdoors, including South African gem squash, summer squash, and a few unusual products such as rhubarb and horseradish. Happy Quail Farms was the first farm to use a retractable roof crop protection system to enable early and late pepper production. They use an electric truck for most of their trips to market.
The rich alluvial soil requires little amendment, and the application of compost, chicken manure, gypsum, sulfur, and nutrient-specific fertilizers are used as regular soil tests indicate deficiencies.
Drip irrigation with well water both outdoors and in the greenhouse.
Integrated Pest Management methods include beneficial insect releases, neem oil, and targeted applications of organic biological nonsystemic sprays.
Happy Quail Farms introduced the pimiento de Padrón Spanish pepper to California in 2001. Since then, the peppers have become extremely popular!