Dana DiRicco-Benjamin

Born into a farming family in Healdsburg, California my destiny was determined from the beginning. My parents and grandparents had ranches with prunes, apples, and wine grapes and all the children in the family were expected to work. Picking prunes, hoeing around fruit trees, painting tree trunks white, and harvesting crops in the 1950’s taught us a work ethic at an early age. My mother, grandmothers, aunts, great-aunts and godmother all had glorious flower, fruit and vegetable gardens which gave me an appreciation of the beauty and grandeur of nature. I was taught to respect the environment and about the importance of biodiversity in the flower and vegetable gardens, and the creeks and streams on our ranches. Rural country life was all I knew growing up.

At fifty-three, I retired and my husband and I purchased Percheron Draft horses. We needed flat acreage for the horses so we purchased a ranch in distress in Upper Lake, located in beautiful Northern California. The ranch came with thirty acres of Sauvignon Blanc wine grapes and a 1899 Queen Anne Victorian. I knew I had come full circle and rekindled my passion for farming. 

As a child the creeks were full of frogs, snakes, salamanders, and the gardens were buzzing with bumble bees, butterflies and humming birds. I wanted that again. I knew that organic farming was the only way to go, so I immediately applied for organic certification. Since changing our farming practices to organic methods, our once ‘dead ranch’ is now abundant with wildlife.

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