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FOCUS ON FARMING: R&M Organics

Martin family works the fields to success

Mike Martin is a story of inspiration from humble beginnings, from a family of hardworking farm laborers to owning multiple companies, including a spreading, composting and pistachio company. He is an example of the values of perseverance and the importance of dreaming big.

He was born in Visalia in 1965 to parents who worked in the fields. From an early age, he started working alongside them. This experience taught him the lessons of a strong work ethic that would serve him well in life.

"I learned that I wanted more out of life than just working in the fields," he remembers.

After moving around California with his family following the crops, he moved to Wasco in 1986 when he married his wife, MagdaElena.

"It's been a happy life, and I love my town," he said. "It's the community, the people I've met over time, talking to the farmers and dairy people, working with them, enjoying the country and the freedom of being out in the open, not enclosed in the city. I just enjoy it."

Martin attended trade school and worked as a mechanic for 17 years at a local dealership. In 2006, he began his first business, servicing the dairy industry under R&M Farm Service. "It is what first inspired me to be an entrepreneur."

"In 2014, we saw that there was a need for compost and started supplying it directly to farmers, but it was in 2019 that we decided to expand and bag it to the individual consumer, launching R&M Organics."

"We started bagging compost and selling it on Amazon, Walmart, some of the local stores and everywhere from Kings County to Los Angeles. It took off and [we] never looked back."

The company was so successful that he was awarded the 2020 Family Owned Business of the Year from SBDC CSU Bakersfield and certificates of recognition from local elected officials. "I felt honored, and it was a privilege to receive the acknowledgment. It showed that hard work paid off."

Martin donates his organic compost regularly to local schools, such as Wasco High. "We donate to them and other community gardens in Los Angeles, Bakersfield and wherever we find out they need it; we just give it to them."

Six years ago, he opened M. Martin Ranch and began growing pistachios on 20 acres. He said his wife got him into it to keep him busy.

"This year was the first year we got our first crop. It takes six years for a pistachio crop to start producing, and every year after that, it gets better."

He said that nowadays, it's the only crop that is profitable. "Almonds have been in the slumps for the last couple of years. It's been rough for the farmers these last few years."

Martin said that farming in Wasco has changed in a big way. "It's more corporations buying out the little farmers – the local farmers. Take a trip to Wasco, and you'll see all the land for sale."

He said the cost of farming has also changed. "It's a lot more expensive. Most of the time, you find yourself breaking even or taking a loss."

"Everything is so hard now. When we planted pistachios, we were hoping for good crops and making a little bit of money, but last year, the price of pistachios dropped. But other than that, I love it. Working around cows and composting, I love it. That is what keeps me going."

His is a family business with his three children, Miguel Jr., Anthony, Kassandra, and wife MagdaElena, all working together.

He sees himself working in the industry for many more years to come. "It's something I like doing, and I want to see my kids take over the business and do better than I do and grow it."

"I'm hoping to get the kids compost bagging distribution throughout the country. We already do that through Amazon and Walmart, but I would love to see the company grow. That is what I expect for the future; that is what my dream is."

 

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