The Feed

I Heard a Rumor13

Robin and I reached the point in May of 2016 where we were done. We started Suzie’s Farm in January 2009 with a dream and vision of feeding San Diego Soul Food; safe, pure, Certified-Organic, locally and seasonally grown fruits and vegetables while building a community of earth-lovers passionate as we were.

In the early part of our journey we attracted the community. We had ardent, vocal, and enthusiastic employees, clients, and chefs; like-minded and excited and willing to do hard things with joy. We created events, attended events, spoke, listened, offered, and received. We did whatever it took to get the farm launched and in orbit.

We aren’t unique. We sacrificed as most new business people do. We lost sleep and we lost friends. We spent every cent from our retirement, savings and investments. We burned through money and borrowed from our sister farm, Sun Grown Organic Distributors. We chased, always believing our hustle would be rewarded, our effort compensated, our contributions repaid.

Our daughters were young; not quite two. And then they were three. And then they were four. Our marriage, which had regular rocky moments, became increasingly jagged and rough. We slept less than a handful of hours a night. I resorted to drinking and drugs, food binges and suicidal thoughts. I sought therapy. I remembered God.

Some of our supporters who joined us early, left. Some advocates moved away. Some champions found other causes. Some stayed. Most didn’t.

And still we hustled.

People who knew us well wondered, why continue? Why? If the marriage is collapsing, if the parenting is distracted, if the wounds don’t have time or capacity to heal over, if the money is all gone, what compels you to go on?

Belief. The same thing that drives a child to place a tooth under a pillow or write a letter with a wish list to a man in the North Pole. I BELIEVED.

But belief don’t pay the bills. And just like a child who comes to a point where the truth is divulged, I faced Truth. Suzie’s Farm, for all it’s infamy and renown, for it’s generosity and good work, had to close.

In July of 2016 we began the process of notifying layers of staff, clients, and vendors.

One of our vendors came forward. He was our liaison for a trio of brothers who inherited and operated their family farm in the Sacramento Valley. Having experienced first-hand the challenges of being a profitable family farm they had started an aggregated farm box company which Suzie’s Farm had been supplying for many months.

They knew us, knew our story, understood and believed in our mission as their parents had started their family farm for many of the same reasons we had started Suzie’s Farm.

They believed that by combining forces they could bring their 30+ years of organic farming and business experience to Suzie’s Farm and make it profitable. They believed Suzie’s Farm could inject some heart and soul and refresh their organizations.

And so, in January of this year, The Barnes and Barsotti Brothers of Capay Organics partnered with Suzie’s Farm.

This has been a tremendous relief for me and Robin. We now share the responsibility of growing the farm: many hands make light work. We get to focus on our strengths. We get to keep the farm alive. We have expanded production to four fields in Southern California, which is exciting! This allows Suzie’s Farm to offer greater variety and stability to our clients. Our public fields remain at 2750 Sunset Avenue, 92154 and are open for tours on Saturdays at 10 and 12:30. Our Farm Stand is open on Saturdays as well from 10-2.

There are also natural transitions when combining efforts. We have had to cease some Farm Stand and Farmers Market days. In the coming weeks we roll the Suzie’s CSA out of the current software platform and into the software that supports The Barnes and Barsotti Brothers sister business, Farm Fresh To You. Suzie’s will continue to offer the Traditional Suzie’s CSA, supporting the same land and people but will also offer greater flexibility including the ability to customize the best local selection and will deliver your boxes directly to your doorstep for the same price.

We are over the moon to provide these changes to our dear CSA Farm-ily. We started Suzie’s Farm on the strength of CSA. To be able to increase Suzie’s offerings by allowing for customizable boxes and expand our reach through direct delivery is a joy. We pray it allow us to continue to do what we believe we were put on this planet to do: Cultivate, Educate, Inspire.

I’d love to hear your feedback….please comment in the section below.

Posted In: Lucila's Essays

13 Comments

  • Leah C. ON 03/09/2017 SAID:

    I love this Lucila! AND happy for you and Robin that you both can continue to do what you love! Thank you for sharing your story!!

    Reply
  • Tammy Downs ON 03/09/2017 SAID:

    That is great news. I had Farm Fresh to You in the past and liked it. When I decided to try csa again I had heard Suzie's Farm was struggling, so I wanted to try to help in some way by ordering through them. Best of both worlds. Good luck, I will spread the word.

    Reply
  • Joann Hutton ON 03/09/2017 SAID:

    Praying for success. We need more people like you! I am still hoping to visit and meet you some day. I am Kenneth's first cousin in Texas. God be with you all.

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  • David Ledinsky ON 03/09/2017 SAID:

    Lucile Congratulations on your move to the next level in the quest to succeed I've watched you Grow Chef David

    Reply
  • Anne Pilgrim ON 03/09/2017 SAID:

    I'm so happy. I'm a neighbor that visited the farm stand when I could. I started getting the farm Fresh to You box a couple of months ago because there was a discount offered through my job. Imagine my surprise when I started finding Suzi labels on some of my stuff. You and all of the other farms and businesses in the valley are so important. By being there and bringing people there you bring attention to our little valley. I love that you all are a partner with the state and local parks departments that keep our valley beautiful.

    Reply
  • Ray Lodge ON 03/09/2017 SAID:

    Your vision, faith and dedication is being rewarded. Congratulations to the exemplary stewards of the land!

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  • Amy Pat Rigney ON 03/09/2017 SAID:

    If this helps your family and Suzie's Farm it sounds like a win-win. Suzie's Farm is such an incredible regional asset that it would be a tragedy if it were lost. Thank you for all of the sacrifices you have made to provide San Diego with Suzie's Farm.

    Reply
  • Jennifer ON 03/09/2017 SAID:

    Thank you for sharing and for your open heart honesty! That takes a lot of courage!! We are happy to hear you are still doing business and will continue to support you as we can. You have a lovely family and we wish you all the very best ! Please let us know if you are ever able to do kid camps again as well. That was something our children loved! Best of luck to you on this new path.

    Reply
  • Rosa ON 03/10/2017 SAID:

    I am so glad to hear that Suzzie's is still at business. I love your produce and will continue to support your farm.

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  • Aaron Turner ON 03/10/2017 SAID:

    I am so happy that a partnership was found and the farm will survive. I loved working for you, even though it was for a limited time, you are great people with huge hearts.

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  • Wendy Hunt ON 03/10/2017 SAID:

    Awesome , praise the lord ! Glad to hear

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  • Aneika Solomon ON 03/13/2017 SAID:

    Thank you for your vulnerability and candor in sharing this article. I enjoyed it and it was inspiring to read. I'm happy to hear of the new partnership and that Suzie Farms will continue to be a part of our San Diego community. Blessings to you all, your family and to the new journey ahead of you.

    Reply
  • Donna ON 03/13/2017 SAID:

    Yay! We watch what you do from just a little bit north, and we cringe whenever bad news comes from your direction. My heart swells with gratitude that you're still there, growing and providing. Thank you for persevering - what you do really, truly matters.

    Reply

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