Adam Azevedo viewed farming through two different lenses as he grew up on the family dairy farm in Stevinson, California, in the heart of the Joaquin Valley. He watched his dad, Tony Azevedo, transition from conventional to organic farming after he became disillusioned about the overuse of chemicals, the rise of big business agriculture, and the subsequent erosion of the family farm.
Organic farming for Adam’s father simply meant going back to the way his father farmed before interventions became the norm, not the exception. The Azevedo farming pedigree goes back to Adam’s grandfather who started farming the same land in 1952, a few years after emigrating from Portugal.
Adam proudly carries on his family’s membership in the Organic Valley cooperative, a relationship that started with his Dad in 1995. He tips his hat to an organization he says recruits people who are truly committed to organic. And, it’s not a nameless, faceless buyer that purchases Azevedo’s milk but a cooperative that knows its farmers on a first-name basis.
Watching and helping with chores as a young boy, Adam eventually earned some pocket money for his work. His hard work paid off. Today, Adam, 27, co-owns Azevedo Organics with his Dad, who plays a limited role in running the dairy. Together they own 350 acres and rent 100 acres. Pasture for their cows takes up about 300 acres while 150 is committed to growing oats in the winter and corn in summer. His milking cows number nearly 300. Day-to-day farming duties fall to Adam whose day begins at 6am and during winter months, ends at 6pm, if all goes well.
When Azevedo heard that California State University at Chico’s organic dairy was joining the Organic Valley cooperative, he came up with the idea of a program to ‘Send a Cow to College’ – a partnership with Chico’s dairy education program and Organic Valley. Adam solicited donations of cows from Organic Valley farmers up and down the Western seaboard to seed the university’s organic dairy.
Azevedo likes to set goals – the higher the better. He has outlined his own personal work challenge – to produce organic foodstuffs without sacrificing quality. He believes it can be done and is already seeing the fruits of his organic labor in soil quality, which he can see improving each year as he rotates crops and mindfully amends the soil. Ambition plus optimism - it’s a fruitful combination. The possibilities are limitless for this young Generation Organic “Gen-O” dairy farmer farming through two different lenses.