Brothers Ranch Farm
When Jesus Calvillo started Brothers Ranch back in 1978, it was due to his own independence and self-perseverance. When he started it back up in 2012, it was due to his love for the farm and supplying fresh, organic produce to the community.
Jesus first started working on farms when he was 10 years old. He started with digging irrigation ditches for 15 hours a day, making only $200 for 70-80 hours a week. Soon he acquired more skills, learned English, and was appointed to managing other workers. However, he was still overlooked and underpaid for his long hours. Wanting a better life for himself, he started his own farm in Watsonville: Brothers Ranch.
His beginning years saw him working, in his own words, like a “burro.” He would water plants until 1 or 2 am, go back to sleep, wake up at 6 a.m., and start the day all over again. During this time, he was raising a family as well.
His family was important to him. Jesus felt that the use of harmful chemicals and sprays were not only disrespectful and unnatural to his plants, but dangerous for his children who would run through the fields and eat the fresh vegetables straight from the stem. To this day, he uses organic dusting sulfur and crop rotation to help rid of bugs and cultivate the soil.
After 25 years of building up his farm acre by acre, his hard work was met with tragedy. In 2003, Jesus had to file for bankruptcy and lost everything. Even with the compounding debt and eventual closure, his dream of farming again never wavered.
In 2012, an opportunity arose and Jesus jump-started the farm again with the help of his daughter, Judy. When she was younger, she helped her father grow flowers and box them for markets. Now, she was helping her father back on his feet to re-establish the farm and continue doing what he loved.
With the pandemic, their frequent afternoons at the farmers market aren’t as productive anymore. In order to rescue the farm, Judy helped start up a company to aid local small farms using delivery. The Calvillo’s and other farmers are now able to deliver their produce directly to the community members they used to share warm smiles with at the stands.
Jesus is not only a prime example of our hardworking small-business owners, but a beacon of hope for our community. No matter how many hardships we may face, Jesus said there is only one thing we can do.
“Whatever you lose, don’t sit back. Keep going.”