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Stories from the valley

Benden Farms – helping our region thrive 

Contributed by Steve Beckley

The Sacramento Valley and Colusa County have benefitted because of a decision Ben and Denise Carter made 23 years ago to start farming on Colusa’s East Side.  Prior to this time, they were both engineers in the Bay Area, Ben at Apple and Denise working for Texaco.

I had the opportunity to visit with them at their home, located on the East side of the Sacramento River, North of Colusa.  I was somewhat familiar with their farming operation Benden Farms, but wanted to know more about their community involvement.  Denise, who was a farming novice when they moved to Colusa, educated herself on farming through seminars, field days, and talking with others. She also took time to learn the culture of Colusa County.  She now serves as a member of the Colusa County Board of Supervisors and is involved in flood control issues, the sustainable groundwater act and serves as a director of the Colusa Glenn Irrigated lands program. She also finds time to help mentor young children by being active in an afterschool program.  Ben serves on the boards of the Colusa County Fair Foundation and Center of Land- Based Learning  and is past President of the California Central Valley Flood Protection Board.  Both of them are passionate about telling the story of Sacramento Valley agriculture and its value to society.  Their busy schedules require a color-coded calendar on their personal communications devices and, with Ben been previous employment in the Silicon Valley, I don’t have to tell you what brand that is.

I joined Ben, Denise and their Yellow Lab, Caly for a tour of the ranch. I was not only impressed by the farming operation, but also by the biodiversity, lots of old oak trees and some Sandhill Cranes were enjoying one of their fields.  They produce organic rice, row crops, seeds, beans, prunes and other crops in the area with a great view of the Sutter Buttes.  They also have a cow calf operations and I have taken a few photos of their cattle standing under an oak tree with the Sutter Buttes in the background.   The Moulton Weir runs through part of the ranch and Ben’s mother Jane still lives on the part of the farm that was originally farmed by his dad, Robert.

Ben and Denise are great examples of a quote attributed to Lucile Ball, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.”  Fortunately, we have many people in the Sacramento Valley working to make it a better place and letting society know its value.