Longtime Madera County organic farm will live on thanks to community food system

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Tom and his wife own T&D Willey Farms in Madera County and have been certified organic farmers for 21 years. (KFSN)

A longtime North Valley organic farmer is retiring, but his fields will keep sprouting.

For more than two decades, Tom Willey has spent much of his mornings and days out working these fields, but now that chapter is coming to a close.

"We decided to retire," he said. "I'm approaching 75 years, and I don't need the stress of 50 employees running around 75 acres every day."

Tom and his wife own T&D Willey Farms in Madera County and have been certified organic farmers for 21 years. Although they are retiring, their passion for organic food will be continuing thanks to a new partnership with Food Commons Fresno.

"We really want to make sure small-scale organic productions stay viable in the Valley and that there are logistics and ways to get that to our local markets and ensure people locally can benefit from that," Kiel Schmidt with the group said.

Food Commons Fresno has a long-term lease with Willey farms. The organization not only sells community supported agriculture boxes of local produce, but they also has a mission to keep farms and knowledge alive.

Wiley's farm will be run by manager and organic farmer David Siliveira.

"They're big shoes to fill," he said. "Tom is an innovator in organic production and brought this type of farming to the forefront."

As for Willey, he feels fortunate to allow someone else to carry the torch of organic farming.

"Looking forward to taking a different role in the organic movement and community," Tom said. "Hopefully sponsoring younger farmers that do things similar to what we have done and more successful."

Food Commons Fresno will plant 15 varieties of produce out in these fields. They say they can't wait to see their organization and plants bloom this spring.

Related Topics:
societyfarmingagriculturemadera countyfoodorganicMadera County
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