#10 R Kelley Farms
Produce: pumpkins, peas, beans, onions, squash, tomatoes, sweet corn, zucchini, eggplant, pears, potatoes, cucumbers, eggs, garlic, orka, peppers, watermelons.
Other Products: eggs.
Services/Activities: U-Pick produce
Ron Kelley has been involved in agriculture in the Sacramento River Delta region since his family moved near Courtland in 1951 when he was three years old. His father drove trucks for agricultural companies. Kelley began working on neighboring farms when he was 15, hauling pear boxes, picking tomatoes and working with the hoeing crew to earn spending money. He says, “When you’re raised in a rural area, it’s a natural thing, you go to work during summer vacation in agriculture.”
He joined Future Farmers of America (FFA) in high school, learned how to drive tractors, worked after graduation for a fertilizer and chemical company, stayed in the industry and moved up to service manager. Kelley went to college and obtained his Agricultural Pest Control Advisor (PCA) license and then his Agricultural Production Consultant certification. After a couple of decades, he moved into management with the Lyman Group, starting their seed division. Although he is semi-retired, Kelley still consults and mentors with the Lyman Group.
Kelley has served on UC Cooperative Extension Advisory Committees over the years in Yolo, Sacramento and Solano Counties. He has also previously served as a mentor to youth for a decade with 100 Black Men of Sacramento, including introducing many young men to agriculture on his small farm on the Delta. He was elected for two terms to serve on the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Sacramento region committee, and is now serving as chair of the California State FSA Committee, a presidential appointment.
After working in agriculture for many years, Kelley decided to start his own small farm to become a better advisor to small-scale growers. In the early 1990s, he leased land and started R. Kelley Farms by the Sacramento River about ten minutes from Sacramento. Inspired by a farm he visited near Tracy, he began growing black-eyed peas and other fruits and vegetables popular with diverse local ethnic groups. These items are offered for sell through his seasonal farm stand and U-Pick. Kelley is still in charge of planning and production on R. Kelley Farm, working with help from his wife, daughters, brother, sister, nieces, nephews and ten seasonal workers. He is currently looking for a young person to take over some aspects of running the operation.