We are Joe Santos and Maria Gummerson, owners of Santos Family Farm. Santos Family Farm is situated on an 80-acre parcel just outside the small town of Yamhill, at the northern end of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It is not a classic farm with wide open fields and pastures. Much of the land is rolling hills with large stands of huge Douglas Fir, Hawthorne, and Ash. We’re in the heart of Oregon wine country, and most of our neighbors are grape vineyards. To us, this is the perfect place to grow vegetables, fruit, flowers, and herbs, raise all sorts of livestock, and maybe even wrangle a few bees.
Like the farm, we’re not the classic farmers. Up until a few years ago, we were the typical Silicon Valley couple. We grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and met through the software startup we both worked at, made some money when it went public, built our dream house, raised a couple of kids, etc. It was great for a while, but after 30 years it was more than enough. It was time to do something more concrete, more meaningful, more social. As with so many decisions in our lives, we somehow independently came up with the same idea: let’s start a farm!
Having almost no background in the area, we jumped into the deep end. We started reading everything we could find on the area. We’ve been fortunate to meet some great people who’ve given us invaluable advice and counsel. OSU’s Small Farms Program has been especially helpful. We pulled the trigger and bought the land in the summer of 2014. Rough around the edges (really rough in a few places) it has great bones. Many years ago, it was a cattle ranch. Over the past decade, it had been a certified organic farm and was cultivated using sustainable farming practices.
Our vision is to turn this into a beautiful farm, and a great place to live while also creating a successful business and a fun place to work. We are doing this by bringing together energetic, creative people and challenging them to grow the best products in the Willamette Valley. We believe in investing in the land, the farm infrastructure, and the people we work with. We look for advice and help from anyone willing to offer it. We go with what works, but we’re enthusiastic about trying new things.