Vendor: Stephanie Jennings & Paul Pfluke
Location: Half Moon Bay, CA
Stephanie Jennings and her husband Paul Pfluke began farming at Green Oaks Creek Farm in 2000, and were certified organic in 2003. They cultivate three acres of organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers perched above the Pacific Ocean on Highway 1, a short distance north of Santa Cruz.
This is a second career for Stephanie and Paul. They taught environmental education for several years, and then became farmers to put their values into practice. To prepare for this, they studied agronomy, earning masters degrees in plant and soil science, and gained practical experience working on several local organic farms.
“The best part of farming here is living and working in this beautiful place. We have a rich lifestyle, and love working outdoors. Of course, we work very hard too,” Stephanie says. “We pay attention to quality. We have a small farm and this allows us to focus on quality”.
The busiest part of the season is during July, August and September, when they are harvesting heavily, and at the same time sowing seed for successive planting – both in the greenhouse and directly in the fields – and cultivating and watering crops. Two apprentices and two draft horses help with the work.
Paul and Stephanie sell their produce primarily through a weekly subscription Community Supported Agriculture program and through the Palo Alto Farmers’ Market. Stephanie says “Our customers at the Palo Alto Farmers’ Market are such a friendly and loyal following. They are enthusiastic and encouraging of our efforts. This is one of our greatest perks.”
Stephanie fondly remembers a mother and her 4-5 year old daughter visiting their stand at the market. The mother said “My daughter will only eat broccoli from your stand – she says that is how broccoli is supposed to taste!” Another woman, on her weekly visit to the market, said “Your whole stand has a great aura of real goodness – good energy, and very powerful.”
Green Oaks Creek Farm strongly supports sustainable agriculture and living. They use photovoltaic cells to produce electricity; have solar water heating, a straw bale kitchen and compost toilet; and use draft horses for plowing and harrowing. Mack and Margarita, the two black Percherons, may someday replace the biodiesel-fueled tractor completely. Stephanie and Paul offer educational programs on sustainable agriculture, and run a rustic retreat center on the farm to allow others to see and learn about the benefits and practical techniques of sustainable living.