Name: Chris Kerston
Occupation: Partner at Chaffin Family Orchards
Place of Residence: Oroville, Calif.
Background and Personal History: Chris Kerston has worked for the University of California, various cattle ranches, and other farms. Since 2007, he has been part of the Chaffin Family Orchards team and is the Director of Marketing and one of three farming partners. He speaks all over the West Coast to both farmer and consumer groups about alternative farming models. He’s been on the forefront of the collaborative process with state and federal regulators, advocating for them to recognize alternative ecological agricultural models and consumers' right to healthy local foods. He’s also been recognized as a leader in the emerging agri-tourism/farmstay market.
Chris grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles and did not have any exposure to agriculture until high school, when he started dating the woman who would later become his wife. Her family had a cattle ranch. He fell in love with the animals, the connection with nature, and the lifestyle and has been farming fulltime ever since. For more information on his journey into agriculture read all about his history at the Chaffin Family Orchards website.
Chaffin Orchards is a 2,000-acre, 5-generation, diversified farm that features extra virgin olive oil, grassfed beef, lamb, goat, pastured chicken and eggs, heirloom stonefruits, citrus, and wool. The farm manages part of the largest old growth olive orchard in North American. With the use of permaculture techniques and holistic management grazing, the farm is able to minimize inputs and maximize fertility by mimicking natural systems. For the last decade they’ve been leading innovators by integrating grassfed livestock into their old growth orchards. Their sheep and cows now do nearly all their mowing on the orchard floor. The goats handle the invasive weeds, keep irrigation canals clean, and clear firebreaks. And the meat and laying chickens act as pest control, eat downed fruit, and fertilize the soil. The farm uses about 85 percent less fuel than it used to and is able to operate with just a handful of employees. They also direct market over 90 percent of their goods selling shelf-stable products online and the more perishable items through local farmers markets and CSAs. For more information about the farm go to www.ChaffinFamilyOrchards.com.
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