|Dixon Ridge Farms
Solano County is home to a national leader in sustainable farming, Dixon Ridge Farms. Owned and operated by the Lester family, this Winters area farm has been using sustainable farming practices since the mid 1970’s. Beginning with the implementation of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program reducing pesticide usage, the Lester’s then curtailed chemical fertilizer use in favor of planting cover crops that naturally returned nutrients to the soil. In 1991, Dixon Ridge became a certified organic producer of walnuts. Their most recent step toward sustainability is the pioneering installation of a machine that turns biomass, such as walnut shells, into energy, which is used to power walnut drying and shelling operations. The resulting ash is then returned to the soil. The Lester’s goal is to become an energy self-sufficient operation by 2012.
In addition to environmental leadership, Dixon Ridge Farms is also a leader in the organic walnut industry. It is the nation’s largest handler of organic walnuts and employs 23 full time employees to raise, hull, dry, sort, store, package, and sell organic walnuts to customers around the world. But at its core, Dixon Ridge is still a family run farm. Russ is continuing a century long tradition of farming in California, and began his career working in his family’s almond orchards. Today, Russ and Kathy are joined by their daughter, Jenny Lester Moffitt, who handles sales, marketing, and business administration for the operation.