April 2013 - Edgar Terry at Terry Farms - Ventura County Agricultural Education
On my way to meet Edgar and his lovely wife Martha for the first time at Terry Berries in Ventura, CA I had no idea as I drove south along the 101, looking out at the farmland busy with harvesters, Edgar was going to inform me his biggest challenge this spring is the lack of labor. He explained, “I’ve got ripe red strawberries ready to be picked that will go untouched”. At the grocery store when we see the bounty in the produce section we don’t normally think about the issues farmers are dealing with from season to season, like the lack of rain and labor. We only see the variety, colors and price. Farming is not easy, but Edgar still thinks it’s fun.
Terry Farms, Inc. began back when Joseph Terry stepped off a ship in Avila Beach from Portugal 123 years ago in 1890. Edgar’s Great Grandfather, Joe, worked his way south on farms until he reached Ventura County and the family destiny in local farming began. Terry Berries was founded in February 2003 and is an offshoot of Terry Farms. The farm is now run by Edgar, his wife Martha, his son William and daughter Alyssa. If you’re lucky you will find Martha in their charming red farm stand located at 7618 Telephone Road in Ventura, which is filled with fresh berries picked only a few yards away. Berries don’t come any fresher or more local than this.
Edgar Terry is not only a multi-generational and knowledgable farmer, but has been an adjunct professor of finance at Cal Lutheran for the passed 26 years. Edgar enthusiastically states, “Farming is fun and teaching keeps your mind fresh”. Both Edgar and Martha seem to truly love what they do, both very proud to have us try the delicious fruit, which is their livelihood.
In 2010 I had the pleasure of hearing Edgar Terry speak at a conference in Ventura and when he said the average age of a farmer in the county was around 60 I realized teaching kids about the origins of their food through specific agricultural education was not only important it was an essential step in creating future agricultural managers. His speech that day was one of the most interesting and insightful talks I’ve heard about the state of local agriculture.
At the end of our farm tour we helped Edgar and Martha carry flats of berries from his cooler to the farm stand. I was looking at the gorgeous boxes of strawberries when Edgar returned back to his concern about local labor. “Picking berries takes a lot of skill”, he said. He had a group of students from Buena High School out at the farm picking a while back. They were only able to pick one flat an hour while experienced labor can pick about 20 flats per hour. That’s a big difference. Our friends and family involved in agriculture are appreciated. We depend on the fruits of their labor!
For additional information on Terry Berries go to – Terry Berries