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Holistic, Innovative Family Farming With Adam Simonian

by Rachel Witte |

“The way we farm—the way I’m farming with my father right now—I have found true beauty in being able to grow high-yielding, great quality food for consumers without the use of chemicals and other practices that the industry has used for so long. I find beauty in that philosophy,” explains Adam Simonian, a fifth-generation farmer from Fowler, California, and recipient of a CCOF Foundation Future Organic Farmers grant. 

Adam grew up witnessing this beauty on his father’s farm and, over time, cultivated a passion for agriculture himself. “I have absolutely fallen in love with the thought of agriculture and the people who work in the industry,” he says. “It’s been instilled in me as a young kid that you work hard; work hard for your money, work hard for the things you want. In this industry … you see nothing but that in the people.” 

Both of Adam’s parents came from farming families, so these values have been deeply held for generations. Four years ago, his father decided to “try something new” and planted an organic almond orchard. Adam was able to witness the whole process, from transitioning the land to organic, filling out all the certification paperwork, and growing organic almond trees. “I really enjoy not only the look of an organic orchard, but also the farming and quality that comes with it. I like that a lot. I like the fact that there are good products being put out from those orchards, and it’s not a conventional practice. Putting something good on the shelves in the stores, for consumers,” Adam explains. 

Adam’s father has continued to be an organic mentor and teacher for him, supplementing the agricultural sciences and business education he’s receiving at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State). He helps his father with his organic fertilizer company, Simonian Production Services, which has been an enormous source of learning for Adam. “Simonian Production Services, a nonsynthetic organic fertilizer company, is where I’ve learned the most about organic farming, especially watching my father work hand in hand with his growers,” Adam explains. 

In order to tend his organic land holistically, Adam’s father uses sap analysis from plant tissue samples to measure the plant’s available nutrients. “Then we’re able to see the excesses and deficiencies of all of the nutrients in the plant. We found that by using sap analysis, we fight nutrient excesses instead of deficiencies, and with that information we can answer the big ‘why’ questions in farming. ‘Why does my field look like this? Why are the leaves brown? Why do I have this weed?,’” Adam tells us. “I’m still learning to this day that the solutions for these ‘why’s’ cannot just be throwing a chemical product out there and putting bandaids over bullet wounds. We need to be digging deep into the source of these problems and figuring out a solution.”

On the farm, Adam and his father use multispecies cover crops, natural products, plant-based fertilizer and manure, and beneficial pests to help manage their crops. “Beneficial bugs—I think that is a wild thing! It’s very accessible, it’s at a great price, and those bugs will go in there and work for you while you’re sleeping.”

His father has instilled this solutions-oriented, investigative approach in Adam as well. For now, Adam is farming with his father and another local farmer, but he has his sights set on buying and managing his own regenerative organic farm someday. His farming aspirations are rooted in community support and family history. “I want to grow peaches, grapes, and—for some reason—alfalfa,” Adam describes. “People love peaches and I want to bring quality to that. I like the thought of alfalfa because I can give back to dairy farmers who always need feed. And grapes! My family has been farming grapes for five generations, so that’s a generational crop I’d like to continue.”

Adam received a $5,000 Future Organic Farmers grant from the CCOF Foundation that helped him earn his degree from Fresno State. “Oh, this grant has helped me 100 percent. I took out a student loan to go to college, and I want to buy ranches. Well, it’s hard to buy ranches when you have debt,” Adam explains. “I think another benefit of this grant is that I’m building a relationship with CCOF. When I have my own organic farm someday, somebody’s got to certify the ground, and that could be CCOF! As I go on in my journey as a young guy in the industry, I’m glad I’m able to get a step ahead and build a relationship with people like CCOF.” 

Having just graduated from Fresno State, Adam is working on the farm and dreaming about the future. Says Adam, “The future motivates me during day-to-day stuff. I want to farm and I want to give my kids the opportunity to do the same, to live the same life growing up that I did—that motivates me the most. It motivates me to wake up in the morning to learn as much as I can and work as hard as I can to give myself and my future family the life I imagine.”

The CCOF Foundation is honored to provide support along the path to Adam and other students like him. Want to join us in investing in the next generation of farmers? Donate today