Swanton Berry Farm | CUESA

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Returns March 17, 2022

Swanton Berry Farm


Founder Jim Cochran along with co-owners Sandy Brown, Adelfo Antonio, Juan Barranco, Bill Kennedy, Rachel Chatham, Jackie Olivares, Luis Ruiz, Tim Campion, and Tim Hudson, and around 32 additional full-time and 25 seasonal workers.


Leases 80 acres in two locations in Santa Cruz County, approximately 80 miles to Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Farm History

Jim founded Swanton Berry Farm in 1983 with the goal of providing flavorful strawberries that were not grown at the expense of farmworkers’ health or dignity. Over the years, Swanton has become an industry leader in developing organic methods for growing strawberries. The two foundations of Swanton’s farming methods are soil building and crop diversity. They spend several years building up the soil before planting strawberries, and then rotate crops around the fields to control diseases and pests. While Swanton was once alone in the organic strawberry business, more farmers have been encouraged to try growing organically because of Swanton’s success.


California Certified Organic Farmer (CCOF) since 1990; Agricultural Justice Project since 2014.


Forty acres of clay and 40 acres of sand are built with compost, cover crops, crop residues, and organic fertilizers.

Water Use

Drip and sprinkler irrigation; one ranch gets water from the city and the other has a three-reservoir system.

Weed Control

Hand and mechanical cultivation; plastic mulch on the strawberries.

Pest Management

Release of beneficial insects and maintenance of their habitat, application of organic pesticides, field sanitation, crop rotation, selection of resistant varieties, and pheromone disruption for artichokes.

Fun Fact

Swanton was the first strawberry farm in the U.S. to sign a contract with the United Farm Workers of America/AFL-CIO. In 2006, the farm began offering an Employee Stock Ownership Plan to employees, the first such program in production in U.S. agriculture. Swanton is certified by the Agricultural Justice Project as a fair farm and continues to work toward a more fair and equitable food system.


Davenport, 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 »