Today we hopped in the car and set out on the 40 minute drive out to Temecula. Right in the heart of wine country lies a 5 acre parcel of land, nestled among rolling hills, rock outcroppings, and eucalyptus trees, where plants and animals get to live the organic way. Today we spent some time at Ray’s Ranch, one of our certified organic farmers who has been with the Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market since we first opened our gates in 2011.
Out at the entrance to the farm waiting to greet us was farmer and owner Cathy Ray and her daughter Sarah. You can find Sarah most Saturday’s working the Ray’s Ranch booth at the Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market. Sarah is the second oldest out of 6 siblings in the Ray family. She is a talented cheerleader coach and working to attend college in the field of nursing. Sarah has been helping her mom Cathy work farmers markets since she was 14 years old. She has learned a lot helping on the family farm and knows first hand the hard work that goes into growing food and caring for animals.
Cathy found her love for farming while attending boarding school. Cathy grew up in a wealthy family in the Tustin area here in Orange County, but decided she wanted to attend boarding school after reading a listing in a Seventeen Magazine. Here parents sent her to school, and here she nurtured her love of animals and her desire to one day have her own farm. Cathy eventually married, and after giving birth to her third child, she and her husband decided to purchase the now called “Ray’s Ranch” property in 1999. When the Ray’s first purchased the property, it was being used as a farm coop.
Cathy started out selling the fruit from the existing fruit and citrus trees at the local wineries, and eventually started selling some of the citrus at farmers markets. The honey that she brings to the market on Saturday’s comes from a neighboring farm. Even though the Ray’s have 120 bee boxes on site, they do not make their own honey. These bees pollinate all the citrus, stone fruit, apple, pomegranate, fig, and avocado trees, in addition to all the vegetables on site.
When Cathy first started farming, she started with goats. She used to sell goats milk and goat cheese. She eventually stopped raising goats and started vegetable farming about 8 years ago. Now you can find a variety of vegetables such as potatoes, kale, lettuce, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, beans, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, carrots, onions, and more during this time of the year on the farm. Cathy feeds her 150 chickens and 25 ducks vegetables from the farm. They are also free range so they feed off bugs and other grasses that can be found growing on site. In the winter months Cathy supplements their diet with organic feed.
Interesting fact, Cathy said that she actually sells more duck eggs November through January. Ducks lay more eggs in the winter which is opposite chickens. Remember that come November, so you can be sure to stop by their booth and pick up some of their beautiful duck eggs.
Cathy’s 80 year old mother also lives on the farm, so it truly is a family affair with 3 generations all supporting one another. Ray’s Ranch participates in five farmers markets, three on Saturday and two during the week. We are so lucky to have this wonderful family run and operated organic certified farm part of the Orange Home Grown Farmers and Artisans Market each Saturday.
For more info on Ray’s Ranch, check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Rays-Ranch