Serving in the US Navy taught Jim Lucas how to improvise.
Working as an underwater missile technician for six years showed him how to get by with limited resources. Duct tape and pop rivets were his friends. Makeshift parts were used instead of perfect spares.
Lessons like these translated into his civilian life. Today, Lucas and his wife, Garnet Green Lucas, operate a thriving organic farm near Guadalupe Creek Road in the Bridgeport area of Mariposa County.
Being fluent is also necessary in this area.
“Really, it’s just been kind of a learning-as-you-go thing,” Lucas said.
Recently, the couple received a $1,000 grant from Tractor Supply and the Farmer Veteran Coalition. Their home-based business, G and J’s Little Farm, was one of two farms in the state to receive the funding.
Both Lucas and Garnet grew up in the city. Lucas is originally from San Jose; Garnet comes from Southern California. Agriculture is not in their blood.
But Garnet majored in environmental studies at Sonoma State University. And a friend raising quail in San Jose piqued Lucas’ interest. So, a few years after Lucas and Garnet moved to Mariposa County, they started their own farm.
It has become a sprawling operation that covers large swathes of their property. Forty-five quail live in two A-frames on the grounds. Eleven hairy sheep graze the grass and weeds, and four large Pyrenean dogs guard the animals.
Lucas provides the labor. Garnet, he said, runs the business and leads the planning and ongoing development of the operation. It also makes handcrafted items, including burp wipes, skin balms, baby powder and pet shampoos.
The couple’s teamwork led to the successful realization of a common dream.
“It’s really nice to be able to see the fruits of our labor,” Lucas said.
G and J’s small farm is still growing. The quail population in the family should double. Apple, pear and pomegranate trees have been planted in what will one day be an orchard on a hill. Manure from sheep and quail will fertilize these trees.
“We try to have, like, this closed loop,” Lucas explained.
The farm’s quail eggs are already sold locally and far beyond central California. Lucas and Garnet sell them at the local farmer’s market and the Little Shop of Ramen in Mariposa, for example — and they also use the online marketplace Etsy to ship them as far away as the East Coast.
G and J’s Little Farm was certified as an organic farm in 2021. The couple are now focusing on their orchard, which currently consists of 24 small trees. Eventually, this space could house many more.
The grant from Tractor Supply and the Farmer Veteran Coalition will allow the family to purchase fence panels that will make it easier for them to run their furry sheep around their property.
Lucas expressed his thanks and gratitude to the organizations for the money. His primary career is in biotechnology, but he and Garnet have a vision to turn their operation into a farm that “can pretty much stand on its own and run,” Lucas explained.
One day, the farm could be passed on to Lucas and Garnet’s children. Eva, 10, and Wyatt, 8, are already helping their father collect quail eggs.
The owners of G and J’s Little Farm felt the support of their community. Raw Roots Farm’s Andrew Glikin and other friends helped Lucas build his first quail house. The military taught Lucas that he can’t do it all on his own, so being connected to various agricultural networks has been an important source of connectivity.
The Tractor Supply award is part of a national campaign with Tractor Supply donating $100,000 to the GCF, including awarding $1,000 gift cards to 50 military veterans nationwide to support their agricultural businesses and $50,000 from the Tractor Supply Company Foundation to support additional programs and grants.
“The freedoms we enjoy in America were made possible by our active military, our veterans and their families,” said Colin Yankee, executive vice president and chief supply chain officer at Tractor Supply and former captain of the US Army.
“We are honored to thank them for their sacrifice in contributing to causes that support the military community. It is a privilege to help the Farmer Veteran Coalition, as they provide this resource to our nation’s heroes. And on behalf of our 47,000 team members, many of whom are veterans themselves, we thank the men and women of the armed forces for their service.
G and J’s Little Farm is active on Facebook. Lucas and Garnet can be reached at [email protected] Visit gandjslittlefarm.com for more information and to order products.