Farmers Market Vendor of the Week: Lloyd’s Organic Produce

Lloyd Johnson of Lloyd’s Organic Produce has been part of the local Davis Farmers Market for the past 16 years, regardless of the pouring rains and oven-like summer heat that Davis is famous for. Local residents refer to him as Lloyd the Farmer. Though he sells a variety of organic produce, Johnson’s specialty is tomatoes.

Originally from Illinois, Johnson’s childhood dream was to be a farmer. He admitted that a major reason for why he wanted to be a farmer at such a young age was because he was inspired by the scenes of real-life farmers working on their fields near where he lived. He liked how dedicated they were but he wasn’t able to cultivate his dream into reality until his forties.

“It’s hard to get started as a farmer right away,” Johnson said.

The Aggie was able to get a quick interview from Johnson as he interacted with the numerous customers that flocked to his stand.

Aggie: What did you do before you became a farmer?
Lloyd: I did a bunch of different things. I once worked in an oil field and I was also a full-time dad. I have a B.A. in Arts Studio from UC Davis. My specialty is water colors. Besides being a farmer, the arts are my other person. I also teach an art class during the year for developmentally challenged adults.
Aggie: What’s it like fulfilling your dream of being a farmer?
Lloyd: It’s amazing. I feel more in tune with nature in a way. I feel more connected with the rotation of the earth. I’m more careful with what I eat these days and I prefer to eat farm-fresh produce now.
Aggie: Where is your farm located?
Lloyd: I rent a five-acre piece of land in Winters. I have lived in Davis for nearly 28 years. I feel if you live at the farm, it’s like you can never leave it so that’s mainly why I rent land instead. I like going home after working the fields. It’s less stressful and doesn’t make it feel like a 24-hour job if I were to live on a farm.
Aggie: What kind of produce do you grow?
Lloyd: I focus especially on vegetables: summer vegetables and herbs. I grow basil and tomatoes, as well as everything else that goes with tomatoes, like garlic for example. Tomatoes are my specialty and they’re also my absolute favorite thing to eat. I currently grow 14 different varieties of tomatoes. Growing tomatoes is a year-round process so it keeps me occupied. Sometimes I even use my produce as subjects of my paintings.
Aggie: What’s it like being a farmer in these areas?
Lloyd: This area is a gardening paradise. This is a very rare place on the planet because it has such a long growing season. We really need to take care of it and realize how lucky we are.
Aggie: What are some difficulties that you’ve encountered as a farmer?
Lloyd: Recently, there’s been a big drought in the Midwest, which has been severely affecting corn crops.
Aggie: Have you come across any similar obstacles?
Lloyd: The drought hasn’t really affected production here. The farm has a well so there isn’t as big a demand for rain all the time. But what really affects the well supply is if there isn’t a huge snowfall to recharge the aquifer. The last few years, snowfall hasn’t been great, just okay. But every farmer has problems like this so even though I’m not worried about a drought problem like the Midwest, I am worried about snowfall.
Aggie: Besides coming out to the Davis Farmers Market, where else can one find your produce?
Lloyd: The local Nugget Market buys tomatoes from me. They’re listed as Lloyd’s Tomatoes. I’m also at the Davis Farmers Market Wednesdays and Saturdays. My wife Sara is my partner and she often helps me at the stand.
Aggie: Why do you keep coming back to the Davis Farmers Market?
Lloyd: It has a great atmosphere. Families and students come to buy groceries here. On Wednesdays, there is even a band playing and people are just having fun. The people who most likely came for the band wander over to see the produce and they often browse and even sometimes end up buying some things to take home. It’s all very friendly.

Lloyd’s Organic Produce can be found at the Davis Farmers Market Wednesdays and Saturdays. It can also be found at one’s local Nugget Market.

MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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