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Meet Molly Chester of Apricot Lane Farms in Moorpark

Today we’d like to introduce you to Molly Chester.

Molly, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As an organic private chef in Los Angeles, I became fascinated with a style of nutrient-dense cooking techniques called Traditional Foods, which requires food to be grown a certain way – from healthy soil. In order to provide Traditional Foods to my clients, we began seeking out farmers who focus on soil regeneration and nutrient-density. We had a hard time finding food that was grown in this way. John, my husband and co-founder of Apricot Lane Farms, and I started out envisioning a truly pastured, soy-free egg operation. And, the idea grew from that small inspiration. Eggs quickly became our flagship item that people have come to know us by, and it’s just grown from there.

Has it been a smooth road?
Each year there is one really difficult thing that we are trying to figure out on the farm. It may be the invasive weed Morning Glory (bindweed) or snails or the Asian Citrus Psyllid. It really feels daunting when you are in the middle of each issue, especially since we have to approach problems creatively and focus on prevention, given that we are an organic and biodynamic operation. With every new challenge, we learn, we grow and the farm becomes better from the experience.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Apricot Lane Farms story. Tell us more about the business.
Founded in 2011, Apricot Lane Farms is focused on creating a well-balanced ecosystem, with rich soils that produce nutrient-dense foods. This is accomplished through regenerative farming methods centered on biomimicry to rebuild healthy topsoil that feeds plants and rebalances the natural system on the farm. Our farm residents include pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, guinea hens, horses, highland cattle, and one brown Swiss dairy cow named “Maggie”. Our land consists of over 80 varieties of orchard trees, including citrus, stone fruit and avocados plus a vegetable garden, all certified Biodynamic & Organic. Our biodynamically certified pastures feed our livestock and provide nourishment for the beehives kept around the property. We feel small to medium sized farms are a vital force for preserving the diversity and quality of food, which is such an important foundation for any community. We will forever work towards strengthening our connection to our local community by seeking out outlets to sell direct to our customers. It will also be important to work with the County and the State to improve regulations for small to medium-sized farmers, so that more people are set up for success to bring artisanal food to their community. Right now, the regulations and financial obligations of permitting are very restrictive for the creative, small farmer. Looking towards the future, we’re excited to be launching new products this fall- Bourbon Lemon Marmalade and an incredible cold-pressed Biodynamic Avocado Oil. John is continually developing new film projects- he’s won five Emmy Awards for his short films featured on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday so far. Marrying our passions has helped differentiate Apricot Lane Farms and give the farm its unique flavor. It’s truly an extension of who we are.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Apricot Lane Farms is a team of over 60 wonderful people, all working incredibly hard, day in and day out, to build a dream and an example of regenerative farming. We have so much appreciation and respect for each member of our team, and we truly enjoy spending our days with them. And, we have had powerful, dedicated people join us over the years, who have since moved on to other opportunities, and we remain grateful for their stamp on this beautiful place. It truly takes a village! We also would not be here today without the help and guidance of our mentor Alan York, who sadly passed away before seeing the seven year mark, which he promised would be a milestone. And, he was right. The earth literally came alive during year five, six and seven. What a wonderful thing to see! We have a spot on the farm called Alan York Lookout, overlooking his favorite orchard, and we think of him each and every time we visit that gorgeous spot.

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Image Credit:
Apricot Lane Farms

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