Massa Organics was born out of the need to STOP SPRAYING POISON ON OUR FOOD, and create a business framework that allowed us to control the sale and prices of the food we grow.
We started by converting a small part of our land to organic rice production, adding a little more each year. We built our straw bale house in 2002 out of the rice straw from the adjacent fields, and children quickly filled it. We added the almond orchard in 2004, and proceeded to learn how to grow rice and almonds without the aid of chemicals.
With Certified Organic Rice in hand, we made the leap to direct marketing in 2005. We developed a brand, put our house and kids on the labels and started packaging our own rice. We set up a table at the Chico Farmer’s market and delivered a box of two pound bags to the local produce broker who had gotten our rice into the local health food store. (We were so excited!!)
With our story (and cute bag) we approached other farmer’s markets, schools, restaurants, CSAs and soon we our rice was being marketed and consumed all over the bay area and Northern California.
As we progressed along the learning curve of organic rice we determined that we needed to rotate in other crops in both time and space. We planted cover crops to provide additional biomass and nitrogen to the rice ground (replacing chemical fertilizer) and we planted other grains like wheat and hay that we were able to market as well. Planting other crops also disrupts the weed cycle of rice, which is the single most difficult part of growing organic rice.
For many years we had been hoping to incorporate animals into our farming system, and we experimented with growing ducks in the rice fields. This was marginally successful, but when we got the opportunity to partner in a hog raising operation, we jumped at it. We quickly fell in love with pigs and learned how to incorporate them into our cultivated and “natural” areas on our property. Next we decided to purchase a small flock of Dorper sheep to graze the weeds in the almond orchard. These integrated systems have led to much less “conventional” agriculture than just going organic ever did (stories to come in the blog maybe).
Overall, it has been an amazing adventure growing our company and living this life. We hope that you enjoy our products and feel good about how they have been grown and produced. Thank you for your support!