Wilkinson Acres farm makes a stand for healthy community food
Fairfield’s only certified organic farm weathers a challenging year by making a space for local vendors
Off a gravel road in the Suisun Valley, there’s a farm stand with a bustling friendly quality you might have missed during the last year.
The vendors wave you in warmly. Customers gab and mingle. Since the pandemic began, I haven’t seen so many masked faces so clearly smiling. The mood feels as bright as the rainbow chard, and as refreshing as the scents emanating from the Kayla Beez Candles stand.
The farm is Wilkinson Acres. It’s operated by Courtney and Mike Wilkinson, two young first-generation farmers. They had a dream to work with their hands and to work for themselves. In the rural open spaces of Solano County, they found land to make it happen, and they recently launched their first, sixteen-week community-supported agriculture (CSA) program to thirty customers.
And with the farm stand they run on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., they’ve paid their success forward, making a space for vendors to sell food and goods after the pandemic shut so many doors and dashed so many dreams.
We often speak of farms staying in families for generations, but every such farm started with someone problem-solving through the first few years. With their social media savvy and community-minded approach, the future of organic farming in Solano County could look like Wilkinson Acres.
A community would do well to preserve the land that makes such triumphs possible.
Room to Dream
Before they opened Wilkinson Acres, Mike and Courtney were living in Vallejo. She was teaching high school history and he was a working as a building engineer. The self-described YouTube farmers had ambitions for selling food from their garden, but city ordinances stood in their way. They began searching for a new location.
They found a property that had formerly been farmed as Shooting Star CSA, a certified organic farm. With excellent soils and infrastructure, Wilkinson Acres passed certification easily. “If you can’t grow food here, you can’t grow food anywhere,” says Mike.
The weather of the Suisun Valley resembles the Napa wine country west of the Vaca Mountains, but Courtney and Mike treasure the subtle climatological differences. The warmer winter nights are perfect for tomatoes and the stone fruit trees. Hotter summer days clear out the pests. They got a USDA loan and went all in.
And despite the bucolic view of hills and vineyards, Wilkinson Acres remains an urban operation: the only certified organic farm in the city of Fairfield.
A giant pecan tree looms above the farm stand and every so often Monique Delaney hears its seeds patter upon the roof.
Monique sells products from her own Molly’s Creole Kitchen line, named to honor her grandmother Elvira (Molly was a nickname). Monique grew up in New Orleans, cooking by Molly’s side. Monique sells pickled vegetables, jams, breads, and sweetbreads. She increasingly sources her fruits and vegetables from Wilkinson Acres. Monique found Mike and Courtney, the way most do, through Instagram. “The majority of the people who found us have done so through social media,” says Courtney. (Their account has nearly 800 followers).
Monique now joins half a dozen sellers on any given Saturday. She’s developing a sugar-free line and hopes to open a pop-up restaurant for her cooking.
Bright days ahead
On summer days, the Wilkinson Acres farm stand will operate from 8 a.m. to noon because of the heat, but a multi-vendor market will remain the model.
There’s much to explore in the scenic Suisun Valley. But if you’re searching for healthy organic food and a welcoming atmosphere, your quest ends here.
Wilkinson Acres is located at 5082 Gordon Valley Road, Fairfield. Mike and Courtney Wilkinson encourage people to check with them in late February for early sign-up opportunities for their summer CSA.