Jacob Grant knows how to grow a sweet carrot. That’s why chefs, home cooks, and everyone in between call him direct or cluster around his stand at Farmers Markets, plucking produce from the tables, asking his advice on how to sauté Chidori kale, how to pair parsnips, or how he gets his carrots so sweet.
On the leased 25 acres Grant calls Roots Organic Farm, he plants what he likes, changing the variety based on what works best and what’s in season. A lifelong resident of Los Olivos, Grant apprenticed with Shu Takikawa, a well-known area organic farmer, taking what he learned from the expert to create a lifestyle and a cult of devotees all his own; he’s been farming by himself now for eight years.
What makes Grant famous in these parts is the quality of his product. “I make sure everything I put on my table has been picked that day, and I never sell leftovers,” he says. “Shu taught me how to grow with a higher standard of quality than others, and he left me with a lot of tricks on how to keep things fresh.” As for his legendary carrots, “They are just far superior in the fall and winter,” says Grant. “But you have to know when to pick them; that’s the secret.”