Local to Know

Local to KnowJohn Fonteyn from Rio Gozo Farms shares his story, what he loves most about Ojai and where he loves to eat and drink in town as part of the Dirt Road Travels city travel guide for Ojai.

Ojai, California

Rio Gozo Farm

"It's a totally family run farming operation. We have pigs, sheep, chicken, and quail on our little homestead."

The Farmer and the Cook
Majestic Oaks

Rio Gozo Farm

"It's a totally family run farming operation. We have pigs, sheep, chicken, and quail on our little homestead."

Recommended by:
Recommended in:
Ojai, California
John Fonteyn, Rio Gozo Farms

My Story

"I get to be outside, so like, my whole office is nothing but windows. I get to experience being in the environment all day long. I see the sun come up, I get to watch it go down. There’s just a freedom to it all.

I'm not much of a Vegas gambler, but I've always been a gambler in life, and in farming, you gotta throw a lot of dice out there to be able to win. So there's something that’s romantically tragic about it, where you're up against the environment and there are things you can’t control and you're constantly being predated upon by animals and the industry is getting so huge that it's squeezing you out and there's nowhere to go and you’re running out of water. It's kind of epic in its scale.

My Advice for Others

"Learn to love the monotony. You're going to find that every day when you're weeding or when you're picking one little cherry tomato and you’re gonna stack thousands of them, you gotta figure out how each one of those picks is beautiful in its own right. You gotta kinda hunt for the zen amidst all the weeds, and the more you do that the happier you’ll feel in the work itself, and then the work will tell you where to go next.

Not Too Douchey Wine at Majestic Oaks Beers Steak and Music at The Deer Lodge Sustainably Sourced Beans and Caffeine at Beacon Coffee

Farming is a little bit like yoga or surfing. There's no such things as mastery - there's no end. You will never know enough to run it all perfectly, and so you‘re just constantly honing the craft. You can meet a guy who's been farming for sixty years and he'll tell you, 'I’ve only really done it sixty times.'

You think of it as this vast bit of knowledge, and it allows you to connect with something human beings have been doing for ten thousand years, that's not owned by any specific culture. No matter where we were from, we started planting seeds, we started herding sheep, so in a way, farming's like a time warp. 

If you're confused by whats going on out there, you can just go outside and plant some seeds and stuff and it’s the same as it ever was."

What I Love Most about Ojai

"It's a little town that has kind of a Western facade, like A River Runs through It, with all these amazing trails. As wild as it sounds, I love how crazy the people are.

I love the proximity to towns like Santa Barbara and Ventura, and that downtown Ojai doesn't have any franchises.

Ojai's got a quaint element to it, and though it's a little hippy-dippy, there's still kind of like these red neck holdouts from back in the day. It's just an awesome place to raise a kid, and there's so much.

'Do you like freedom? Are you into that? Or do you want to just work your way up to middle management? I mean, no shade - but there is another way. Or not, I guess you’ll pay off all those student loans off eventually.'

My Ojai Musts

"Grab some local produce and food, maybe from a place like Farmer and the Cook, and set-up and picnic. Do that, then head up Shelf Road, which is one of the most known and accessible trails and you can walk up and see the whole valley, just covered in oranges. Then, grab some wine at a shop like Majestic Oaks. I think their tasting room is awesome."

Rio Gozo Farm


Rio Gozo Farm
John Fonteyn
Rio Gozo Farm
The Farmer and the Cook
"I mentored under Steve, who owns Farmer and the Cook."
Majestic Oaks
"It's real low key, and not too douchey."
Rio Gozo Farm
"It's a totally family run farming operation. We have pigs, sheep, chicken, and quail on our little homestead."

Story Tags

Like what you see? Give it a share:

A NEW CITY delivered to your inbox each week

Thank you! You'll be hearing from us soon!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form
Woot! Woot!
Error! Try again.
Back to top
Oops! Something went wrong.