About

Our farm and homestead is entirely off the grid and continuously strives towards being self sustaining. We’re set on 80 acres of land in the Sierra national forest and overlook the San Joaquin river. We farm regionally appropriate vegetables on three acres of land comprising over 40 terraced fields, 7 hoophouses and two acres of orchards and vines. We raise chickens and goats, and practice holistic grazing of our land with our goat herd and chicken flock, as well as regenerative forest management using animals, tools, and fire.

Our vision

Our vision is to promote and participate in the transition towards local, sustainable food systems and regenerative farming and ecological practices.  We do this by managing our farm using agroecology and permaculture methodologies to not only produce nutrient dense food but to improve health of the land, the air, the water and the community for current and future generations. Our farm serves as a venue where we can inspire, educate and empower people to grow their own food, manifest their own paths in respect to the 5 elements necessary to life: food, water, shelter, energy and community and experience first hand how regenerative agriculture and social involvement is a viable solution to some of our biggest social, economic and ecological problems.


our mission

Dedicated to cultivating connections between people, their food systems, and our mother earth, while engaging the community to develop and share practices that promote regenerative agriculture by inspiring, educating and empowering people through life experiences, community involvement and school garden projects.


farming model

All of our farming and land management practices are aimed at creating the greatest positive impact on the environment, the health of our soils, and nutrition of our food. We strive towards economic sustainability by using low cost, hand powered production methods, re-purposing/reusing materials, and by following holistic sales and marketing practices.

Our Guiding Values

We measure our operation using the Triple Bottom Line principle, taking into account the social, ecological and economic impacts of our operating practices and procedures.

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Holistic Management

Holistic management is a whole farm planning system that helps farmers and land stewards better manage environmental systems in order to reap sustainable environmental, economic and social benefits.

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Education and Outreach

Education and Outreach is at the forefront of what we do and we believe it needs to be if we are to transition to more sustainable, local food systems. We run the School Garden at North Fork Elementary and inspire the next generation of regenerative farmers through our apprenticeship and internship programs. We’re always involved in local events, and regularly speak at conferences such as Eco-Farm.

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Local

Everything we do on the farm is with our immediate community in mind. When sourcing products from outside the farm we strive to always do so within a 50-100 mile radius. The products and produce sold in our store are sourced with proximity in mind and we only deliver our produce to the closest towns of North Fork and Oakhurst, and now Fresno Food Commons.

 

Farming Practices

We believe that with the situation we’re in ecologically and environmentally in the USA, merely farming sustainably is not enough to solve the problems we’re facing. Regenerative farming practices and principles are at the heart of how we operate at Kern Family Farm.

 
 
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Agroecology

In keeping with agro-ecological principles we understand that in order to create the most nutrient dense produce and a thriving eco-system on our farm, the health of our soils is key. Our motto is ‘Soil First’ and we farm using ‘no-till’ practices. We don’t use herbicides or pesticides of any kind, ever. We’re certified organic and plan our crops with the soil in mind, preferring human power to machine power. We strive for a fully closed-loop system and have a sizeable compost operation made using farm based plant and animal manure. When we do need to bring external inputs onto the farm, we do so as locally as possible.


Polyculture

We aim to replicate the natural conditions of an ecosystem for plants and animals. Our fields are dedicated to a diverse range of plant varieties and our crops are grown and planned using crop rotation, intercropping and companion planting. We incorporate native plants and wildflowers into our fields and hedgerows and use our goats and chickens to graze the land.

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Holistic Management

Holistic Management is a value-based decision-making framework that integrates all aspects of planning for social, economic, and environmental considerations. We strive to solve problems with a whole systems approach, going upstream to tackle root causes. In all of our practices, we put nature and our ecosystem first. We practice holistic land planning through the holistic grazing of the land, forest management and biological monitoring. We run our businesses and operation using holistic goal setting, sales, marketing and financial planning.


 

Our Family

 

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Hansel Kern

Hansel Kern operates the Kern Family Farm in North Fork, CA in the Sierra Foothills. The farm provides produce to families in the area through the Kern Family’s local market, the Gnarly Carrot. The farm also supplies produce to several local restaurants and participates in a small local farmer’s market during the summer. In 1999, Hansel started a school garden at the local elementary school where he shares his enthusiasm for growing food with the children. He provides healthy fruits and vegetables for the kids to eat while they work in the garden, and the school cafeteria includes produce from the garden in the school lunches. Hansel represents EcoFarm at several local Central Valley farm festivals, including the Organic Stone Fruit Jubilee Festival in Clovis, CA.


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Sue Kern

Sue Kern helps operate the Kern Family Farm in North Fork, CA along with her husband, Hansel and adult children, Rebecca and Aaron. She helps daughter Rebecca run the family’s natural food market, the Gnarly Carrot. She’s also the Family Law Information Center Attorney at Fresno Superior Court’s Self-Help Center. Before moving to North Fork, she spent thirteen years organizing farm workers and home care workers in New York and California, and is on the board of directors of Centro La Familia Advocacy in Fresno, Madera Coalition for Community Justice in Madera, and KFCF radio in Central California, and now serves, along with Hansel, on the Board of the Ecological Farming Association.


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Aaron Kern

“Aaron is the youngest of the Kern siblings and manages much of the day to day operations of the farm, as well as spearheading our transitions into no-till farming and holistic management. He also keeps meticulous records of all inputs and outputs on the farm for our own records and to maintain our CCOF certification. He is always looking for new ideas to make our operation more productive while also lowering our carbon footprint and maintaining good stewardship of the land.” - Rebecca Kern


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Rebecca Kern

"Rebecca Kern is the older of the two Kern siblings that manage the Kern Family Farm, and personally operates our store, The Gnarly Carrot. She is a dedicated member of the family that oversees all store operations, maintains most of the family's business finances, processes most of our value added goods, coordinates much of the farms efforts in local events, and generally holds down the family's capacity for organization, punctual processes, financial analysis, food safety, public relations and sales in town. another essential element and member in the function of The Kern Family Farm" - Aaron Kern

 Our History

 

Words by Hansel Kern:

It’s hard to believe that nearly forty years ago a group of alternative thinking folks landed on this beautiful piece of Earth on the bluffs of the San Joaquin River above Redinger Lake. The Kern Family, or should I say part of the Kern Family (my Father Ken, his wife Barbara, and myself- 16 at the time) set out to homestead the land and develop cottage industries. That included endeavors such as drawing house plans, starting orchards and gardens and teaching homesteading. Ken was writing books on those subjects in the 70s when the Back to the Land movement was strong. We had left the big city of Oakhurst for the remote and quiet town of North Fork to live the homesteading lifestyle.

In 1986, my dream of working the land with a multigenterational homestead was put on hold with the untimely death of my father, and a series of other events. I was running around the mountains doing stone work as a mason and raising my first two daughters Ariana and Connie. Sue Wasserman and I met and married in ’89 and had two more children, Rebecca and Aaron.

It wasn’t until 1998 that I mostly retired from stone masonry and began building the infrastructure for the farm. Thanks to Sue and her generous family, we have been carving terraces into the mountain side, developing water sources, building barns and greenhouses, fencing, brushing, installing a waterwheel, solar jack pump, and windmill, just to mention a few projects. So here we are, Becky and Aaron have decided to stay on and create a multi-generational farm with me. Sue is now working part time, so hopefully she will have a little more time to walk about the farm and enjoy the fruits of her labor as well.

In farming community terms, if you’ve been farming for under ten years, you’re considered a beginner farmer. So we are in middle school now, still making plenty of mistakes, but we learn from each one and are passionate about creating a sustainable, productive and balanced operation. Our goal is to supply nutritious, healthy and tasty food products to our community and to stay as local as possible. We are planning on building a certified dairy so we may sell dairy products to restaurants and the public in general. We’ve already achieved an earlier goal of opening a public store front in town, which is now in its third year of operation.

We really appreciate all our loyal membership customers. Over the past ten years they have supported us through funky and thin times. You got us where we are today.

Thank you all for your interest and support

With love and respect,
Hansel Kern

1975

  • Ken, Barbara and Hansel Kern purchase the land.

1975-1986

  • Ken and Hansel build the original two homesteads, (Ken & Barbara’s and Hansel’s).

1978-1979

  • Ariana and Connie Kern are born in the original cabin.

1986

  • Ken Kern dies.

1989-1992

  • Sue Wasserman marries Hansel, and Rebecca and Aaron Kern are born.

1999

  • Hansel and Sue purchase the lower 40 acres from Barbara Kern. The Kern Family Farm begins and the first vegetables are sold. The North Fork Elementary School garden project begins.

2008

  • The farm opens its doors to interns and the first volunteers arrive through the WWOOF program.

2008-2010

  • Rebecca and Aaron become full time farmers.

2015

  • The farm becomes certified organic, and Hansel, Sue, Rebecca, and Aaron form Kern Family Farms LLC.

2016

  • The Gnarly Carrot opens

2017

  • Transitioned to No-Till practices.