Summer Grower Highlight: From Garden Patch to Dickinson Farm

The Dickinson farm isn’t your usual generational family farm. It has a unique start up story, all beginning with a life changing moment.

Mike and Stepheni purchased the Wallace D. Dickinson homestead in February 2012, as their forever home. When they bought the property, Stepheni was in the midst of pre-deployment work-up preparing for a 10 month deployment, and in March she was bit by a tick on San Clemente Island off the coast of Southern California.

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Unfortunately, Stepheni was left sick and untreated for a 10-month deployment. Almost a year later she returned home very ill and went from doctor to doctor to find a cure.  After 2 and a half years of fighting an undiagnosed illness, and a year of looking for a doctor, in July 2014, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Stepheni immediately started daily IV treatment and was told to eat as fresh and healthy as possible by her doctor. Each day after treatment, Mike would take her home and would try to find fresh, organic food for dinner. This is when they noticed the lack of fresh produce in National City.

Stepheni asked her doctor if she could be outside and garden a little. With no real farming experience, MIke and Stepheni planted a few fruits trees and learned how to plant a small garden patch …and with that the Farm began.

In the SoCal sunshine, the crops sprouted up with ease, providing excess in abundance of what they could eat. Mike and Stepheni started giving away the excess to friends, family and even started a crop share. Then even started giving excess to Dreams for Change to help feed those who couldn’t afford to buy their own. Meanwhile, Stepheni sat in the IV chair researching how to make the Farm an official business.

By January 2016, the few trees and garden patch turned into 16 raised boxes, an orchard, 4 hedgerows of coffee, a hop patch and 20 in ground rows; 1/4 of an acre total. With plans settled and licenses obtained, the little garden patch became Dickinson Farm.

Stepheni, the Founding Farmer began with no formal agricultural experience or education, instead her fondest memories set the groundwork for Dickinson Farm. She is now the Farm Manager, working and managing the day to day operations of the farm.

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Born and raised in Southern California, with time spent in rural southern Illinois, Stepheni learned about wild edible plants in sixth grade camp and through afternoons of playing in the fields and forests of Illinois. She learned about stinging nettle, sassafras, cane berries, persimmons, paw paws, and mushrooms.

Stepheni has always been amazed yet frightened of what’s growing naturally all around her and this brought a sense of awe into her adult life, always looking for small gardens in nestled spaces. Her favorite fruit is any berry found around poison oak while hiking with her husband.

She has spent 20 years traveling all over the world as a entrepreneur, regulatory compliance and military professional. During her time off, she would navigate the landscapes of rolling hills, urban gardens, fresh markets and back alleyways.

Her previous experience and expertise with startup and growth strategies for emerging markets, operational environments, program development, and research management has helped ensure the success of Dickinson Farm.

Dickinson Farm also has a great farm to table “Farmacy” program designed for patients receiving on-going, out-patient care and great for anyone on a specialty diet. The program provides a great mix of Chef Made Meals and freshly harvested heirloom Dickinson farm produce delivered to your doorstep or even your doctor’s office. All produce is seasonal, organic, non-GMO and heirloom, and all ingredients in meals are organic and California grown. From responsibly raised and processed meats to heirloom varietals of grains and produce, each ingredient is carefully considered and presented in each dish to project it’s peak flavor to the diner.

Check out what’s growing at Dickinson Farm and sign up for your Farmacy or Farm Share, here.

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