Massa Organics: Sustainability Hits Home

Massa rice house

Massa Organics has had an incredible journey to sustainability. It began shortly after college when Greg Massa and his wife, Racquel Krach, returned to Greg’s family rice farm. They utilized their tropical ecology background to prime themselves for their next venture: organic farming.

Massa Organics harvests organic almonds and rice on their 200+ acre span of land and employs a very interesting system of sustainable. In addition to their organic crops, they have introduced an animal element to their farm. In the past, their flock of ducks helped control the weed population in the rice fields. They also introduced a flock of Dorper sheep to graze their almond fields. This helped lower the propane costs from burning weeds and added a dynamic group of personalities to the farm.

What else has this operation done to set themselves apart from other operations? Racquel and Greg decided to build a straw-bale house with excess rice-straw from their fields. Much like the straw-bale houses of yesteryear, the bales can be coated with plaster or stucco to make them fire-resistant, rodent-proof, and as the Massa Organics website eludes, bullet-proof (we hope they never have to test how bullet-proof their home actually is)! While the price of building a straw-bale home is roughly the same as building with conventional building supplies, the planning and implementation of this kind of structure can be very time-consuming. However, the straw takes a very long time to break down and the energy savings are well worth the hassle. The end result is a sustainably built home for them to raise their beautiful family in!

Additionally, Racquel and Greg are utilizing passive solar energy to heat and cool their house. How do they accomplish this? Simply stated, they took great care in the planning of their home. The home has high ceilings and heat rises to the highest point in the house, keeping it away from the ground level. They located the house between two large oak trees for sun protection and utilized four-foot overhangs to keep the sun off the walls. The areas with direct sunlight have very small windows so the sun does not beat down into the house. Summer months are so hot in the California’s Central Valley that they need all of the help they can get to keep cool, and boy, are they cool!

Massa Organics recently added another sustainable aspect to their farm — a biodiesel processor. The Springboard BioDiesel processor now fuels their on-farm machinery and since January 2014, they have lowered their CO2 emissions by 90%. This processor takes animal and vegetable oil and turns it to biodiesel almost instantaneously. Racquel and Greg recently grew their first safflower crop to turned into biodiesel and help fuel their operation. You may be wondering, “Is biodiesel is okay to use in a regular diesel engine?” The answer is yes! Biodiesel works great in diesel engines and has fantastic lubricating properties that help reduce the wear and tear on integral engine parts.

Massa Organics is a shining example of what a sustainable operation can look like. Greg and Racquel are always searching to make their operation more efficient through high- and low-tech methods. Whether that means creating a more ecologically diverse or sustainable farm or adding cutting-edge equipment to daily life, they are always moving forward. CCOF is proud to certify Massa Organics, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

 

Tags: