California Endive Farms Grows A Unique Product

reprinted from the CAFF newsletter; written by Stacy Nuryadi

Rich Collins photo by Megan Sabato

Rich Collins
photo by Megan Sabato

The Collins Farm is a 195-acre farm based in Davis, California owned and operated by Rich and Shelly Collins. Through their farming, the couple strives to share their love of celebrating food, farming and life as they continue to grow their sustainable and diversified farm program.

Belgian EndiveThough the farm was officially founded in 2007, Rich Collins’s interest in agriculture began early, when he headed Sacramento’s Organic Gardening Club at only 13 years of age. As a young man, he spent a year learning about agriculture in Europe, where he focused on the production of endive, a Belgian lettuce. He later graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Agricultural and Managerial Economics and created California Endive Farms, the only non-European producer of endive for nearly 30 years.

Rich’s lifelong dream came true with the purchase of conservation easement protected acres from The Solano Land Trust for the founding of his own farm. Over the years he and his wife Shelley grew a variety of blackberries and fruits, such as figs, peaches, apricots and nectarines, which were featured at Farmers’ Markets, Produce Express and their farm stand. Besides fresh produce, they also offer homemade jam, crisps and fruit pies from their farm kitchen, along with honey, dried fruit, a variety of nuts and popsicles. One can find all of these products at their farm stand located just off I-80 at the Kidwell exit on the north side of the highway.

In 2011, the farm leased an acre of their land to Cloverleaf Farms, who grew organic vegetables for their 30-person CSA. A year later, they started a U-pick operation, of which blackberries were especially popular. Cloverleaf Farms also expanded and leased an addition four acres of their fruit orchard, now certified organic. The Collins also host growers from Ruhstaller Brewing Company and Hearty Fork Farm to plant hops and organic vegetables on their farm. Their produce is now featured in Napa, Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville besides the Davis/Sacramento area. CAFF is proud to have Rich Collins serve as our Board Chair, and his contributions to supporting our organization have been numerous.