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Johnny Fonteyn on Rio Gozo Farm

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American Family Farmer

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Johnny Fonteyn is a former chef, and his wife Elizabeth Del Negro, a former educator. They are in their 30’s, and now are full-fime farmers. They started with an 8-acre farm, just north of Los Angeles, in Ojai (PM: O-HI), California, which was formerly a minimum-security prison.

Today, they grow vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers on three different farms. The farm is known as Rio Gozo. "Gozo" is Spanish for Joy. The majority of the food they grow supplies Rio Gozo Farm's CSA program; any extra is sold to restaurants and markets in Ventura County. They have 60 CSA shareholders of their own. The farm’s boxes also now include bread, coffee and preserves from local artisan producers

Rio Gozo also garners a large group of volunteers who donate time to help the couple pick and pack the CSA boxes. In addition, Elizabeth gets to use her extensive classroom teaching experience at the farm.  In collaboration with Food for Thought: the Ojai Healthy Schools Program, local fourth graders come to the farm to learn about and participate in sustainable farming.

This husband-and-wife team is proving that small family farms can succeed by simply feeding the neighborhood.

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