David Little is a third generation Marin resident who learned about farming when he agreed to help a friend on his ranch near Tomales, West Marin. He fell in love with the work, and in 1995 started farming potatoes. Since then, Little Organic Farm has expanded to 50 acres and produces strawberries, sunchokes, onions, lettuce, winter squash, mixed greens, broccoli, kale, chard, and Romanesco cauliflower.
MM: What is your approach to farming?
DL: My farming philosophy is: Work hard and good things will happen. God does everything and putting out quality organic vegetables is the message.
MM: Where do you grow, and how does your location impact your products?
DL: We grow on the West Marin and West Sonoma coast. We believe that that the terroir, the soil, the salt air, and the micro-climates create some of the best growing soil in the world – and also some of the most challenging. One day, I’ll look out at that cultivated land and it looks beautiful. The next, all I’ll see are weeds and gophers. It’s quite a roller coaster ride sometimes.
MM: What do you specialize in growing?
DL: My niche is a technique called “dry farming”, which is an historic process that holds moisture in the soil for long periods of time. It is a soil tillage technique, an art of working the soil, that requires no irrigation. This process can cause stress on the plants, with lower yields – but it produces a lot more flavor. Starting as soon as the possible in the spring, when the ground is still wet from winter rains, the ground is disked, disked again, then plowed, then disked again with a roller sealing the ground to hold in the moisture. This method creates a long window from the initial planting and allows the roots to get established.
MM: What products are you best known for, and do you have a favorite way to use or cook them?
DL: We are known for our 20 different varieties of potatoes and our dry farmed tomatoes. One of my favorite ways to cook potatoes is to sauté them with fuyu persimmons.