Knoll Farms | CUESA

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Returns March 17, 2022

Knoll Farms


Rick and Kristie Knoll, along with 1 part-time and 14 full-time employees.


18 acres in Brentwood, about 50 miles from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Farm History

Rick and Kristie were avid backyard gardeners in Santa Ana until 1979, when they purchased a weedy, 10-acre alfalfa field in Brentwood. Over time, their land evolved to become an extremely productive agro-ecosystem that produces over 150 different products. The Knolls, known for their innovative practices, strive to continually increase the biodiversity and ecological stability of their farm. Their primary focus is “growing” more topsoil. They believe that if soil is well tended, it will provide healthy, nutritious food in perpetuity. Composting, cover cropping, low- and no-till, and crop rotation are just a few of the methods they employ to increase soil health. The Knolls describe their farm as “an organism unto itself, with its own rhythm and personality.”


Certified Organic. Knoll Farm became certified organic in 1984. They’ve always farmed using practices including organic, biodynamic and permaculture, among others. However, in 2002, Rick and Kristie dropped out of certification because they felt the term “organic” was being co-opted by industrial agriculture. They returned to organic certification in 2009.


The clay soil is amended with raw and composted organic matter, cover crops, and crop stubble. Crop-animal rotations, earthworm castings, and biodynamic preparations add nutrients to the soil.

Water Use

Water is sourced from onsite wells and the local irrigation district.

Weed Control

Hand and machine cultivation, inter-crop rotation and mulch.

Pest Management

Maintenance of habitat for beneficial insects, crop rotation, biodynamic preparations, and agroforestry.

Fun Fact

Rick says that his favorite fig variety, Melissa, is named after the famous Allman Brothers song about a woman who was as sweet as a fig.


Brentwood, 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 »