The Apple Farm | CUESA

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The Apple Farm


Tim and Karen Bates and their daughters, Sophia, Polly, and Rita; Cruz Alvarado at the stove; and seasonal employees.


32 acres in Philo (16 of them are farmed), about 130 miles from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Farm History

The Apple Farm is an historic orchard that sits at the bottom of the Navarro River in Mendocino County. Since 1984, when the orchard was purchased, the family has worked to make it a place where people, plants, and animals can live and thrive together. By practicing sound farming techniques, the Apple Farm is helping protect a diminishing watershed. In addition to being certified organic, the Apple Farm is certified Biodynamic®. Biodynamic farming is an approach that looks at the farm as a complete organism and emphasizes natural rhythms and cycles. The Bates’ cottages allow guests to stay the weekend, experience the farm, and take cooking classes.


California Certified Organic Farmers and Demeter Biodynamic


Keeping in the Biodynamic tradition, the farm only uses local products when building their soil. A variety of local horse and cow manures, composts, and cover crops help keep the soil strong and healthy. Occasionally farm animals are herded through the orchard to add more compost and help aerate the soil. The farm is always looking for ways to put nutrients back into the soil, because a complex soil leads to healthy fruits and vegetables. Younger trees are mulched with chipped apple wood to protect health, growth and to help retain water.

Water Use

Water comes from the nearby Navarro River and is used only once every three weeks. This makes the fruit better tasting.

Pest Management

Tim and Karen work on enhancing the micro-ecology of their farm for pest control. Sulfur is used for pheromone disruption during the mating season for insects. Border hedges where wild plants grow provide a good habitat for beneficial insects. By continually running livestock through the orchards, weeds and evasive plants do not pose a problem. In addition, the farm chooses varieties that are pest resistant and thrive in their microclimate.

Fun Fact

The Apple Farm has 1,500 apple trees that range from one to more than 100 years old.


Philo, California


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn More »