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Rooted Women: Benina Burroughs Montes of Burroughs Family Farms

Benina Burroughs Montes is the current Owner and Manager of Burroughs Family Farms, her century-old family business. Benina was born and raised on the family farm and even as a child, helped with beef cattle and dairy, as well as being an active member of 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA). Benina attended Cal Poly, SLO and graduated with a B.S. in Ag Business in 2001.

After college, Benina returned to the family farm and took over managing their 647 acres of almonds. In 2006, the farm began to transition into organic production, and by 2015 the entire farm was certified organic. Benina met her husband Heriberto on the farm and the two were married in May of 2009. Benina and Heriberto’s shared passion for regenerative farming practices has been passed down to their four children, as they strive to leave a better world for future generations.

The farm diversified and began organic olive production in 2010. The first milled olives were produced in 2012. The oil is a blend of Arbequina, Arbosana and Gretchinina varieties. In addition to being Regenerative Organic Certified® by the Regenerative Organic Alliance, Burroughs Family Farms is also certified organic, which means that they follow strict guidelines to produce crops without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. They are proud to be the First Regenerative Organic Certified® Almond Orchard in the world.

Q: Benina, you and your family own the first almond farm in the world to be Regenerative Organic Certified, and you’re hoping to inspire and teach others to do the same. Tell us about that – why you think this is important, what the challenges were to make those changes, and how you overcame them. 

A: The evidence has shown many times that we are facing dire times, YET there is still hope with the implementation of regenerative farming. We couldn’t wait for someone else to figure out how to farm regeneratively, so our family made the commitment to jump in and figure it out ourselves. The principles are the same wherever you’re farming, but the context is different for location and crop. It’s exciting to finally see the positive outcomes with this way of farming, not only for our farm, the bottom line, and our team, but for our community and our planet. Doing something that is not proven and not the “way it’s always done” is scary. Women in agriculture think and feel differently than men in the industry, often implementing a more nurturing and caring approach to problem-solving and brainstorming.

Q: Women are still doing it all: succeeding at work, looking after their families, running a household, being a good friend and member of the community. How do you get motivated to go out there and kick butt every day?

A: Being a “momprenueur” is a very lofty goal and takes A LOT of scheduling. It is doable, but I don’t think we can have it all without help. My husband is a true team player and always supports me. I’m also extremely grateful to the hard-working team that keeps Burroughs Family Farms going.

Q: What do you like to do to unwind after a hectic day/week?

A:  I love to relax with our family and just enjoy our time together. We like to gather friends and family and share our farm/space with others. I also enjoy a glass of wine!

Q: What is your favorite summer go-to meal using a local farmer or producer during a busy day?

A: I love a flavorful salad with some homegrown protein!

Q: What’s one of your favorite splurges/guilty pleasures?

A: I really enjoy eating dates topped with Burroughs Family Farm almond butter and a few chocolate chips.

Q: Who are 2-3 folks or organizations making a difference in the world of regenerative agriculture that you’d like others to know about, and why?

A: We love Ecdysis Foundation, White Oak Pastures, and Alexandre Family Farms, organizations that are doing research and education about their farming, and the nutritional benefits of their products.  

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