Andy Griffin: Mariquita Farm

Read the full text transcript (PDF) and listen to the audio of the oral history with Andy Griffin.

Andy Griffin runs Mariquita (“Ladybug”) Farm on twenty-five acres in Watsonville and Hollister. In collaboration with Steven Pedersen and Jeanne Byrne’s High Ground Organics in Watsonville, Griffin and his wife, Julia Wiley, sell much of their produce through a community supported agriculture venture called Two Small Farms.

Possessed of a quick mind and a powerful command of language, a wry and robust sense of humor, and strong opinions gleaned through extensive experience in the farming and marketing of organic produce, Griffin is also a prolific writer, blogger, and radio commentator. With farming roots reaching into California’s 1970s organic-farming renaissance, he has plenty of stories to tell.

The great-grandson of California farmers and son of a plant ecologist, Griffin took agriculture classes through the Future Farmers of America program at Carmel High School, then went on to UC Davis to study range management. Disillusioned by the pesticide-heavy focus of that program, he eventually completed a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

Griffin’s practical education took place in a series of jobs on farms—including Cargill-owned sunflower fields in Davis, an organic garden that supplied produce to Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, the Straus family dairy and Warren Weber’s Star Route Farms in Marin County, and a ranch in Santa Barbara County. After stints as a produce distributor, he eventually established Riverside Farm with partner Greg Beccio. The proceeds from that successful salad-greens business funded the creation of Happy Boy Farms, now run by Beccio—and eventually helped Griffin establish Mariquita Farm.

Sarah Rabkin interviewed Andy Griffin at her Soquel home on November 6th and December 16th, 2008. In addition to rollicking anecdotes, Griffin’s extensive transcript provides trenchant insights into the evolving economics of organic production, distribution, and marketing on both small and large scales.