Route 1 Farms
849 Almar Ave. Suite 128|
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Since 2002 Jeff has downsized and now farms 65 acres as sole owner with a team of around 30 hardworking and dedicated field hands and farmers market salespersons.
Route 1 Farms has become a longtime fixture in the movement for ecologically-based agriculture. They have grown high-quality organic produce on the Central Coast for over thirty years.
65 acres of beautiful, choice Santa Cruz coastal valley farmland, including areas at Rancho del Oso along Waddell creek, as well as, Ocean St. extension at the rural/urban fringe along the San Lorenzo river.
Route 1 Farms has its roots in the years before the advent of mass marketed organic produce. Jeff Larkey started his farming career after becoming disillusioned with the failure of the solar boom of the early 1980's. In coming to Cabrillo College to study solar technology in the mid 70's with Rich Merrill, Jeff also received an introductory education in growing food from Rich. Soon after he started selling excess produce from a large garden at the newly formed local farmers' market in Live Oak. With encouragement and increasing demand he moved to a one and a half acre plot on Ocean Street Extension in 1981. The farm steadily expanded and in 1988 Jeff formed a partnership with Jonathan Steinberg. As the market for organic produce evolved and matured, their acreage grew to nearly 150 acres until Jonathan moved on. Growing crops at three different ranches around the county, Route 1 takes advantage of the diversity of soils and micro-climates that Northern Santa Cruz County has to offer. From cool exposed coastal bluffs to protected valleys they are able to grow hot crops and cold crops, tomatoes and spinach. In an attempt to keep farming fun, challenging and rewarding Route 1 Farms changes how they do things as time goes on by using all the information they can gather that relates to ecological agriculture. They strive to keep the farm healthy and their methods up to date. In addition to taking care of the 50 plus vegetable , fruit, orchard and flower crops, the farm has been involved in different education and research projects, using and sharing the knowledge that they gain to further the local food movement.
A combination of crop diversity, healthy habitats for beneficial insects and well fed plants.
Because the farm covers so many different geographical areas, the soil types include anything from alluvial river silt and crumbly sandstone to loams. Route 1 spreads eight to 10 tons of compost with limestone once or twice a year and uses feathermeal and fish emulsion on longer term crops. They also use kelp products on occasion. Jeff understands there is no “one size fits all” approach - it’s a question of knowing the soil and conditions.
R use various wells in the county, using old water rights out of Waddell Creek, for instance. They use mostly overhead irrigation for leafy greens and some drip for longer-term, perennial crops such as berries.
The usual - mechanical and hand cultivation. Some propane flaming.