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Remembering Kathleen Barsotti

Kathleen Barsotti
Kathleen Barsotti
The agricultural community mourns the passing of Kathleen Barsotti, 51, who died July 2, 2000, after a valiant nine-year battle with breast cancer.

Barsotti was a member of the UC Small Farm Program Advisory Committee and a strong supporter of the program. Last year, she received the Small Farm Program 1999 Pioneer Agriculturist Award for her lifelong commitment to organic farming, her dedication to helping other ortanic farmers, and her efforts to establish the Davis Farmers' Market. She will be remembered as an inspiration to the organic farming community, and to women growers in particular.

"Kathleen was an exemplary leader who pioneered innovations in family farming that not only benefited her farm, but opened up opportunities for others," said Desmond Jolly, Small Farm Program director. "We will sorely miss her."

The proprietor of Capay Valley Fruits and Vegetables, Barsotti brought innovation to her 70-acre farming operation for more than two decades. She received a master's degree in ecology in 1974 from UC Davis and started farming organically with four partners on a small plot of land in the Capay Valley northwest of Davis.

A pioneer in organic farming and small scale marketing, Barsotti was among the first small, organic farmers to understand the potential for specialty crops marketed to chefs who created the new California cuisine. Her introduction of the Bintje potato to the San Francisco market was a textbook example of successful specialty marketing. She also ran a successful Community Supported Agriculture program that drew subscriptions from as far away as the Bay Area.

Barsotti also was a founding member of the Davis Farmers' Market 25 years ago with Martin Barnes, Jeff and Annie Main of Good Humus Produce, and Henry Espenshade. Her family grew up in the market, and many hours of her life were devoted to ensuring the market's success. She is survived by her husband Terry Schroeder, and sons Che, Noah, Thaddeus, and Freeman.

The Small Farm Program was indeed lucky to be graced by Kathy Barsotti's presence. We will always remember her warm smile, her positive attitude, and her ongoing dedication to small-scale farmers. The Small Farm Program's Pioneer Agriculturist Award will be renamed "The Kathleen Barsotti Pioneer Agriculturist Award" to honor the inspiration and leadership of Kathleen Barsotti.