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Comanche Creek Farm Visit

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Comanche Creek Farms is nestled against the riparian habitat of Comanche Creek in beautiful sunny Chico, California. An early morning 2 ½ hour drive up from the Bay Area took us through small farming towns and miles of agriculture as far as the eye could see. We passed fields of rice paddies and acres of walnut, pistachio and stone fruit trees in various stages of maturity. In the distance we could see The Sutter Buttes, the smallest mountain range in the world. A small circular complex of eroded volcanic lava domes that rise as buttes above the flat plains of the Sacramento Valley in Sutter County in the northern part of the state’s Central Valley.

A turn off onto a narrow side road led us along small family farms and soon we arrived at Comanche Creek Farms where we were greeted by Sean Mindrum, grower and professional chef. For decades Sean was a private chef for celebrities and worked at many prominent California restaurants. He was looking for a new joy in his life and returned to his childhood home of Chico when the opportunity arose to buy Comanche Creek Farms. Originally founded over 20 years ago the farm was located on a smaller piece of land. Sean moved the farm to a larger, 50 acre piece of land. 40 acres of that land is farmable and he has continued the tradition of experimenting with many varieties of organic fruits and vegetables grown in the mineral rich soil of Butte Creek.

Comanche Creek grows year round and rotates their crops seasonally. They offer a whopping diverse lineup of 390 varieties of fruits and vegetables, with the biggest crops in the summer months. Not only does Sean provide a robust offering to his customers, but his dedicated workers have year round employment. The farm crew works together as a group to take care of the farm and Sean in turn wants to take care of his workers.

Chico is located in the northern end of California’s Central Valley and has a Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot and Comanche Creek has the advantage of coming on early with warm weather crops. As we walked through the fields Sean explained they are growing 35 varieties of summer squash, sugar snap peas, tomatillos, lemon, pickling, dragon egg and serpent cucumbers, basil, Chinese long beans, hot peppers, big beef tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes and 45 varieties of cherry tomatoes.

Tromboncino Squash

Chico is now reaching temperatures upwards of 106 degrees. They are now harvesting summer squash, burgundy okra, snap peas, tomatillos and pickling cucumbers. In the coming weeks we can look forward to heirloom, early girl and big beef tomatoes. This is very exciting as California’s tomato season really doesn’t get going until August.

As the summer progresses they will have pomegranates and figs(Black Mission, Kadota, Turkey, Adriatic and Tiger Stripe) for the first time and a small amount of peaches, white nectarines and pluots.

Comanche Creek works with nature supporting the health of the soil, recycling natural materials, and growing cover crops to grow and maintain soil fertility. California’s water supply and another drought year are on everyone’s mind. Sean feels that flood irrigating is the biggest waste of water and has applied for a grant to capture water in a water shed and then drip irrigate what they capture.

 “The mission of the farm is by 2025 to be 100% sustainable and then during that process to remove all the plastics,” said Sean.

Our last stop on the tour was the Comanche Creek Market, a commercial kitchen and store selling added value products to feed the community using produce from the farm when possible. The market offer fresh seasonal soups and salads, salad dressings, pestos, veg sides, dips and chicken bone broth to name a few. He also sells organic produce, honey made on the farm, local organic Chico Rice and locally made soaps. The market is open Thursday to Saturday.


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