Nestled among the almond orchards south of Arbuckle is Wise Acre Farm. This small farm was started by Mary Fahey about 20 years ago and she was joined by her Husband Steve Vanderpan in the operation. Mary, a city girl from Moraga and a UC Davis Fine Arts Graduate, was a graphic designer that wanted a small farm, did her research and found her life’s pursuit in Colusa County.
Wise Acre is a 20-acre farm with 11 or so of those acres in Almonds. It has gone through several transitions, and today it specializes in fruit trees and free range eggs. As you walk around the farm with Mary and Steve you get to meet chickens, geese and llamas. Goats are soon to arrive. The animals are all raised under conditions that are Animal Welfare Approved. Over 30 varieties of fruit trees are grown, with the goal of always having fresh fruit available for customers. Citrus was available during my visit. They also have planted areas, including a creek that runs through the farm, to native grasses which host many beneficial insects, birds and animals.
Mary founded the Arbuckle Farmers’ Market and is an active member of the Arbuckle Revitalization Committee https://www.facebook.com/ArbuckleRevitalization/ that is working for the betterment of the town and holds the several annual events such as a Carnitas and Salsa Cook-Off and the fall Car Show. Her day job is Colusa County Water Resources Manager providing leadership to implement the Colusa County Groundwater Management Plan and Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) that will help insure the area has groundwater resources for the future.
The produce and eggs are sold at a serve yourself stand in front of the farm and at the Arbuckle Farmers’ Market. There are many loyal customers that make a regular stop to get eggs and whatever else is in season. As Steve said, “We don’t do this for ourselves; we do it for the community”. If a person wants to start a farm and they have no agriculture background, they should go to Arbuckle and meet Mary. It is not easy and be prepared to put your weekends on hold, but the community and the area has benefited because a city girl wanted to be a farmer.