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Hamilton City, CA

Massa Organics is a small family farm located along the Sacramento River near Chico, California. Using sustainable, ecologically-mindful practices, we produce organic, diverse, nutrient-rich crops.



Raking Hay

Greg Massa

After the swathed hay sits in the field for a week to cure, it needs to be raked into a windrow and baled. The rake, as shown in the video below, is a series of large vertical disks with fingers on the edges of the disks. It is pulled by a tractor, but the rake itself is ground-driven. It pulls two rows from the swather into one giant pile of hay that snakes around the field. After this step, the baler comes in, picks up the row, and compresses it into hay bales. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos or video of the baler because they did it in the middle of the night.

Fan Mail

Greg Massa

One of the great things about direct marketing is that we get feedback from our customers. It is so fun to hear what people are doing with our rice/wheat/almonds. I don't usually post these on the blog, but this one is about our wheat flour, which is currently only available at Chico farmers market. We're thinking about expanding our flour sales to other markets this summer--any interest out there in freshly milled organic flour?

Mary writes:
"I bought 5 lbs of whole wheat flour on my visit to Chico Farmers Market last week. It is superior to any flour I have ever used, and it makes a noticeable difference in the quality of our bread. I added toasted wheat berries too for added crunch--they too are delicious. I don't know if it is because the flour was freshly milled or because of the wheat variety you grow (probably both!) but it's fantastic."

Making Hay

Greg Massa

We cut our first organic hay crop this week. Hay is a great crop to rotate with rice, because we harvest it in April, and still have time to plant a rice crop in May. Our hay is an oat/legume mix, and is headed for an organic dairy once we get it baled. To make hay, you cut the plants just after they have gone to flower using a machine called a swather. The swather cuts the plants and leaves them in a row on the ground, where they will sit for about a week to "cure." Once they plants are dry, the baler will come in and make bales. If you bale hay too green/wet, it will start composting in the bale, and potentially catch fire.

I'm using hay as the third crop in our rotation of rice, wheat, and hay. The more crops you can have in an organic rotation, the better your weed control and yields of each crop will be. Weeds are our biggest problem in rice, so we're hoping that extending our rotation will help. Plus I feel more like a real farmer rotating crops like farmers used to do!

Here's a brief video of the swather mowing our hay.

Smiling Wheat

Greg Massa



The wheat crop is starting to "head," which is what we call it when the panicle emerges from the sheath. The panicle is the cluster of flowers where the grains will eventually form. In the top photo, the heads are just emerging. Rice looks very similar to this when it heads, and the Thai people call this stage "smiling rice." So we'll call it smiling wheat. In just a few days, the entire field will look like the bottom photo, with fully emerged heads ready to be pollinated by the wind.
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Working Ground

Greg Massa

The first step in preparing a rice field for spring planting is often the chisel plow. This tool breaks the top crust of matted straw from last year's crop, and opens the ground to aerate and dry the soil. This field has essentially been flooded for most of the time since last May, so the soil is compacted and anaerobic (lacking oxygen). Believe it or not, to grow a good crop of rice, we'll need to dry it out before reflooding and planting.

Willie and Me

Greg Massa

I never thought I would be on the same webpage as Willie Nelson, but here it is on Farm Aid. Actually, I happen to know that Willie has eaten our rice! My friend Karen prepares the meals for the bands and artists that do shows at our local University. She often serves our rice, and Willie insists on being served food produced locally.

Maybe we need a new slogan: Eat the rice that Willie Nelson eats!

In a related post on the Farm Aid Blog, they note that we are their first tweeting farmer.

Bloggers on Massa Organics Rice

Greg Massa

Here's a few recent posts about our rice on other people's blogs:

I'm Mad and I Eat: "The rice was tender Massa brown rice. Probably not kosher in Chinese cooking, but it's the rice of the moment at my house, and it worked perfectly."

Rice Rice Baby: "It is so tender and fragrant, I think it will become the household staple, replacing white rice. (How does this hippie whole-grain mania take over at such a late age? Well, I can tell you it's because the rice is really good.)"

Rancho Gordo: "My long-winded point is that good brown rice (like Massa's), nopales, beans and some good sausages make a fine weeknight meal."

My Daily Diner
: " egg, asparagus, red onions, and brown rice from Massa Organics. After tasting their brown rice, you really understand that all grains are NOT created equal."

Recessionista: "Not all rice is created equal. Nutty, healthful Massa Organics brown rice, grown on a fourth-generation family farm in Chico, CA, by former biologists, is both responsibly grown and good for you."

Eat, Sip, Ride: "My brown rice of choice is Massa Organics."

Flaming weeds in the orchard


Being organic almond farmers means that we can't use herbicides to kill weeds around our trees and sprinklers. We've tried several methods to kill the weeds, but no method is perfect. Our current effort involves using a propane torch to flame the weeds. The flames don't actually burn the weeds, but instantly boil the water out of the plant, which causes it to die in about 24 hours.