SAN DIEGO — With
many local restaurants struggling due to the economy, more people are
eating at home and that has led to a boom for at least one segment of
the local economy.

Bill Brammer’s organic produce can be found at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and other markets.

“We
grow some unusual things,” said Brammer, who runs Be Wise Ranch. He
said many people are buying and eating organic produce at home.


“That’s
what we’re seeing. There seems to be a lot more interest in local
organic food where people can eat something that’s very fresh that has
a lot more nutrition and more taste,” said Brammer.

Nationally, organic produce sales are up about 7 percent, and Brammer said his business is doing even better.

“It’s up about 10 percent right now,” said Brammer.

Brammer has been farming organically since 1977. When he first thought about it, many experts said no.

“They said, ‘Oh, that can’t be done. You’d starve and you wouldn’t be able to grow anything,'” said Brammer.

Brammer said he grows 50 to 70 different varieties of produce — 20 different kinds of tomatoes alone.

“So
you can see all the different varieties. Some you probably wouldn’t see
in a normal store,” said Brammer. “Another big crop for us is chard.

“Organic
produce is more expensive, with the big reason being labor costs. Much
of that labor has to do with weeds, as organic farms don’t spray
herbicides. Weeds have to be picked by hand.

Brammer also sells
to the public through a community supported agriculture program where
people like Rolly and Vivian Manley receive boxes of produce every week
or every other week.

“It’s really good quality and there’s a lot of food each week,” said Vivian Manley.

Brammer
is dealing with the problems all farmers deal with, including water
issues and squirrels and crows that really like his produce. But he has
been doing it for 32 years, and it’s working.

Brammer’s boxes of produce sell for $25 to $30 each, and there is a waiting list to get into the program.Learn more about the Be Wise Ranch at www.bewiseranch.com.