Doug Hus may be a real estate broker by day, but the El Dorado Hills resident and co-owner of the new El Dorado Hills Natural Farms off Highway 50 has adapted to farm life quite well. Wearing a straw hat and blue jeans, Hus can be seen most days towing crates of strawberries or handpicking just the right green pepper for personalized community supported agriculture baskets, which are as unique as each customer’s tastes.
Hus and business partners Rob and Robin Day, also residents of El Dorado Hills, opened El Dorado Hills Natural Farms two months ago, but they’ve been prepping for their Sept. 14 grand opening much longer. For years, when Hus passed the uncultivated land at Bass Lake Road and Country Club Drive a nagging feeling wouldn’t go away. Also green thumbs in their spare time, Hus reached out to co-worker Realtor Rob Day of Capital Valley Realty in El Dorado Hills and Day’s wife Robin, a Fed Ex employee. They put their heads and hands together and El Dorado Hills Natural Farms was born.
Formerly the site of a 90-acre dairy farm, the trio wasn’t surprised the soil tested so well. Today the 10 acres they’ve planted thus far have more available every weekend, said Robin. They grow more than 40 types of fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries in addition to raising free-range chickens for farm-fresh eggs. A year-round farm, they are currently planning their winter harvest and have plans for a robust flower garden too.
The farm also has charm. Some may know its location because of a sign paying homage to a horse named Prince who lived a full, 35-year, life there. Now the parcel is named in his honor, Prince Field. An arrow stand as navigation markers, pointing in the direction of Coloma, Folsom and Latrobe. And come October, families will have a new pumpkin patch to visit in the region.
The owners have become passionate about educating the community about growing fresh food in the process; what’s surprised them most is how good fresh, natural fruits and vegetables taste. They recently forged a partnership with the El Dorado County Food Bank and have begun a co-op with other local farmers who may have offerings they do not.
“This makes for more diverse CSA baskets,” said Robin. “We can offer peaches and pears, for instance, because of our co-op with local farmers.”
The CSA program works similar to programs like Farm Fresh to You. People pay for a weekly voucher, or roughly $24 a week, but get $30 in fresh produce by signing up. Walk-ins are also welcome. Customers may either order their seasonal fruits and veggies ahead of time and Hus or the Days pick it for them, or customers may come down and have a hand in the process themselves.
Russ Tuttle is a regular customer and said he’s glad the farm is here.
“I think it’s great timing,” he said. “The area is ready for it.”
The El Dorado Hills Natural Farms website, edhfarms.org, states they’re the only chicken, fruit and vegetable farm on the western slope of El Dorado County. They’re pesticide-free too.
“We use all organic seeds and an organic oil made of garlic and hot peppers to keep pests away,” Ro said.
The farmers enjoy gardening and canning preserves as a hobby, but said they have learned so much in the process of opening the farms. Right away they had to replace the well on the property when they realized the land wasn’t getting completely watered. And in their first few months prepping the land they lost 800 feet of bush bean plants when they hadn’t yet used their pepper and garlic formula to ward off bugs. Today they still find wild rabbits looking to feast from time to time, but they take it in stride.
“We just capture and release them,” said Rob.
What’s been the nicest surprise, all three said, is the community support.
“We’ve received great positive feedback,” said Robin. “The motto from everyone has been, ‘We’ve been watching you!’ At first, people came to say hello and ask what we’re up to. Now we’re getting repeat customers, more and more every week, and people honk and wave when they pass.”
They would like to have schools and groups come visit and plan a volunteer program for children 14 and older and adults. “We have lots for them to do,” all three said.
El Dorado Hills Natural Farms will hold a grand opening from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14. Guests will enjoy a barbecue, tours and more. For more information visit edhfarms.org.