Local college students take on farming

Photo by Jenna Hards

Brentwood siblings Joseph and Kalee Dutra have taken over the responsibilities of Dejesus Ranch, while learning the ins and outs of the farming industry.

Dejesus Ranch, located off of Sellers Avenue, has been serving the Brentwood community for the last five years as a cherry U-pick location.

Brentwood siblings Joseph and Kalee Dutra have taken over the responsibilities of Dejesus Ranch, while learning the ins and outs of the farming industry.

Jenna Hards/The Press

This past year, the responsibilities and care of the orchard and farm have been passed down to siblings Joseph and Kalee Dutra from their grandparents. The two have been hard at work preparing the farm for this year’s cherry season, while also taking on college full time.

While the physical work is plenty, Kalee has also taken on the responsibility of marketing and promoting the ranch on social media in hopes of spreading the word about Dejesus Ranch.

As children, the siblings spent much time on their grandparent’s ranch; they would play among the orchard and, when they were old enough, help out with running it during the U-pick season.

“We started doing U-pick in 2016 and I was wrapping up my eighth-grade year and I would help out on the weekends. It was just a really good experience for me,” Kalee said.

Years later, the siblings would use that experience to take over the ranch and get it ready for this upcoming season.

Joseph’s knowledge and experience in agriculture and plant science came in handy as they worked to revitalize the orchard.

“When we first decided that this was something that we wanted to do, I went and ran soil tests, water tests, leaf tissue tests,” Joseph said. “We resurfaced the orchard so come this next U-pick season people have a nice, clean orchard floor to walk on.”

The siblings have been in charge of bringing the orchard back to life and getting everything ready for this year’s cherry season. This has included manual work like removing dead trees, fixing sprinklers and working on creating a sustainable farm.

“We try to really think about what we’re putting into the ground, what we’re putting into the trees,” Joseph said. “We’re just trying to give our customers the best product and the best experience that we can.”

In addition to the months of preparation and farm work, the Dutra’s are also considering how to keep their customers happy and safe during the continuing pandemic. While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Dejesus Ranch from allowing people to visit and pick cherries last year, the two have been planning how to open up again safely.

“We want people to not feel any stress. We’re going to try to do our very best to provide a quality, safe U-pick experience,” Joseph stated.

With the cherry season approaching, Dejesus Ranch will be opening soon to the public. For now, you can contact them at their new Facebook page: Dejesus Ranch - Updated, or their Instagram: @dejesusranch.

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