Sallie Calhoun never imagined herself as a rancher, nor could she imagine that one day her managing partners would be cows and sheep. However, here she is 17 years later, a rancher and farmer just trying to figure out the best way to produce food, fuel, and fiber while not just sustaining, but regenerating ecosystems.
Calhoun started Paicines Ranch in 2000; a completely restored ranch that includes 25 buildings and is quietly nestled an hour south of San Jose and about an hour inland from the Monterey Bay region. There are 18 people who share the work across all 7,600 acres of rangeland, but all of them are equally invested in one thing: learning to see things differently when it comes to the regenerative movement.
Sallie believes that we should be working with nature, not against it. “Ther are a lot of current agricultural practices – both conventional and organic – that destroy soil health, including tilling, bare ground, monocultures, and applying synthetic fertilizers or pesticides,” she said. “We need to manage our soils by working with nature using the tools that have evolved over 5 billion years.”
While the regenerative movement may feel like a step backwards in technology to those not familiar with the industry, Paicines Ranch is working towards changing the understanding of the movement and show people that it is more forward thinking than ever before. Sallie says, “Nobody’s talking about going back! Everything we’re doing for soil health looks to the future, incorporating all the growing scientific evidence available along with large amounts of human creativity.”
What started as an opportunity to become a landlord has now become nearly two decades of ongoing learning experiences in the world of Holistic Management that includes educational events and research partnerships.
If you ever find yourself in Paicines, CA, the ranch will gladly welcome you to their daily 7am Morning Meeting where the team will talk schedules for the day, overall vision and ideas for the ranch or maybe even veer towards a humorous rabbit hole. And if you stick around long enough, and the weather is just right, you might even be able to catch an impromptu popsicle stand at the office.
*The Jefferson Center would like to thank Paicines Ranch for joining the Savory Meal as a Meal Sponsor.