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Pie Ranch cultivates a healthy and just food system from seed to table through food education, farmer training, and regional partnerships.



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The History of Pie Ranch

In 2002, three founding partners — Nancy Vail, Jered Lawson, and Karen Heisler — purchased a triangular 14-acre property on California’s San Mateo coast to establish Pie Ranch. The shape of the land, and their shared vision to create a model center of sustainable farming and food system education, inspired the farm’s distinctly fitting name. Since 2005, Pie Ranch has operated as a working farm, hosting youth from regional high schools to participate in farm-based programs and activities. Pie Ranch also works with educators and community collaborators in diverse urban, suburban and rural settings to help students apply what they’ve learned at Pie Ranch in their daily lives. In addition, Pie Ranch mentors aspiring farmers as resident apprentices who spend a full year immersed in all aspects of farm operations and marketing.


Why Pie?

We call ourselves Pie Ranch for several reasons:


  • The ranch is in the shape of a slice of pie.


  • Pie, with all its ingredients and associations, is a great means for understanding how food comes from the land to our tables.


  • The promise of pie will encourage city youth and adults to come discover the beauty and importance of rapidly disappearing farms to the future of people in the Bay Area, our food security, health and our understanding and appreciation of life and nature.


  • Pie Ranch is a place for “pie in the sky” idealistic thinking to guide social change, such as helping an urban school source local produce for their cafeteria; or a neighborhood to get their “slice of the pie” to ensure access to high quality fresh, locally grown foods. We create meaningful and measurable change toward sustainable communities. We believe enjoyable and thoughtful engagement with good food can bring individuals, families and institutions — from children to school boards — together to create a more healthful and just society.