The view of cows grazing happily in a pasture at a farm in Denair, Calif., was the turning point for the Silveiras. This experience provided David Silveira, then 18 years old, as his inspiration and muse as he launched into creating an organic farm from a decidedly conventional one.
A few years ago the Silveira Dairy had no pasture at all, but today, the Silveira clan—headed up by parents Joe and Ermelinda, and children Victor, David, Catherine and Jessica—run an organic dairy with 600 cows that graze happily on nearly 4,000 acres in Orland, Calif., at the heart of the Sacramento Valley.
Victor was 5 years old and David was 7 when their Dad, an immigrant from Portugal, bought his own herd of 200 cattle after working for other dairymen for years. He had built what was considered a successful farm, but his sons were restless to try another way.
When David first saw the Denair farm on a college field trip, he returned home excitedly talking about the New Zealand style of farming—which involves intensive grazing of animals to encourage both animal and soil health. Victor's interest was piqued. He traveled south to see for himself and returned home equally inspired. Ultimately, the Silveira brothers shepherded their parents to the same Denair farm.