Matthew and Courtney Smith subscribe to the notion that if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. This may prove to be a good thing as the young couple moves forward with building the business of their Lucky #19 Ranch, its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) division, their recent opportunity to operate Bloomingcamp Ranch and the launching of their Farm to Table monthly events.
“Smith Bros. Farming is the farming operation and how this all began,” the couple shared via e-mail. “Lucky #19 Ranch is the name of the ranch we live on and grow most of our produce for our CSA and farmers markets.”
According to the Lucky #19 website: “Lucky #19 began in 1992 as a young boy’s go cart racing number. It was the best season he ever had in his 12 years of racing and even competed at the national level placing second.”
The young boy was Matthew Smith. Since that day the number 19 has played significant meaning in the couple’s lives. It is a portion of their address, the date they were married, as well as the date of their son’s birth.
Via this same website, www.lucky19ranch.com, community members may also build their own box of fresh fruits and vegetables for weekly or bi-weekly pick up fresh from the farm.
The CSA “Farm Share” box is an assortment of seasonal produce that can be ordered and picked up from a designated location. Currently only one box size is offered and both ordering and payment may be done from their website.
Farm Manager Nicole Bell is out on the property every weekday morning by 7 a.m. reviewing the crops, CSA orders and Farmers Market needs.
“This is exactly what I’d love to do myself if I had property,” Bell said of the two acres of farm land, tucked among the 80 acres of walnut orchard.
“Our olive oil is pressed elsewhere, then we bottle and seal it here on the ranch,” she said of the popular Lucky #19 Olive Oil sold at the various farmers markets.
“Growing something from a seed to something I can eat,” Matthew said of the rewards of and what he likes about being a grower, “the process of it.”
The multifaceted farmer shared he knew at the age of 12 that he wanted to farm.
“Where I grew up I was surrounded by agriculture and being able to work outside, with my hands all day appealed to me.”
“Both of my parents grew up in ag related businesses,” Courtney stated. “My dad’s family farmed cattle and row crops and my mom’s family was in the spice business. Being raised in agriculture I always knew that I would be part of it in some capacity.”
As for a typical day, with three properties to tend to, don’t look to this couple for a ‘9 to 5’ or typical schedule.
“Everything we do is so we can produce and harvest high quality product,” the couple shared of early morning and late nights, tending to irrigation needs, etcetera.
The most recent addition to the couple’s business is the Farm to Table dining experiences. The first was hosted most recently at Bloomingcamp Ranch, with a second to follow on Friday, July 17 also at Bloomingcamp’s.
“When the opportunity came to operate Bloomingcamp Ranch we knew we wanted to keep the name because that’s what everyone knows it as,” Matthew stated. “We use the same recipes as Joy did when she operated it and are planning to add to our menu in the future.”
The park setting of the Ranch offers a familiar setting for some Farm to Table guests, as well as an introduction to the uniqueness of the setting to first time visitors.
The couple hopes to have chefs, wineries and breweries lined up to participate at the dinners a year out, highlighting much of the local talent in the Central Valley and pairing with them to offer a unique, memorable experience.
“Our hope is that our guests walk away with lifelong memories of their Farm to Table dining experience,” Courtney said.
“It is more than just eating a meal; it is the chef’s creativity at their best, the garden’s bounty at its peak,” Matthew added, “the pairing of wine or beer to enhance the meal’s flavor and the people you are sharing it with.”
As for long term goals for the couple’s businesses, they hope to sustain and build on each as viable businesses.
“Shortening the string from the farm to the end user is what we do and what we want people to understand,” Matthew said. “By doing this we eliminate the travel time from where it’s grown to the direct consumer. It’s the next best thing to growing it themselves.”