Darrell Wood Ranches

Vina, California

Darrell Wood Ranches

Vina, California

Born to Farm

The saying “labor of love” cannot stand more accurate for sixth-generation cattle rancher Darrell Wood. Born into his family’s cattle operation in Vina, California, he had no choice but to embrace the ranching lifestyle, and luckily, he took to it very well. In the Wood family's 150 years of cattle ranching, a lot has changed, including the way they raise their stock. Darrell became one of the early adopters of organic cattle ranching, and he has an immense passion for it. The grass-fed beef raised from his animals is distributed under two brands: Eel River and Panorama Organic Grass Fed Meats, which Darrell started 22 years ago.

“The ethic for me is to be able to raise something as environmentally sustainable as possible,” Darrell said. “The fact that our ranch is organic means that we’re 100% sustainable all the way through from the cattle to the product we raise.”

Sustainable Cattle Grazing

Darrell considers sustainability a core value in his business. In fact, Darrell received the National Environmental Stewardship Award through the National Cattleman’s Beef Association in 2009. Darrell was the first organic rancher in the country to win this prestigious award, and it is a direct reflection of his attention to detail.

Darrell also cohabitates with coho salmon, spring and fall run salmon and steelhead trout on his property—all endangered species. The vernal pools on his property are also home to fairy shrimp, tadpole shrimp and other endangered plants. Hawks, eagles, butterflies, bats and wild turkeys are a common sight on Darrell’s ranch, which is a testament to the good health of these working landscapes.

“Being in the grass-fed business, it’s virtually impossible to be successful unless you take good care of the ground,” Darrell said. “You can’t finish cattle on grass unless the grass is in good condition, and when the grass is in good condition, the wildlife, plants, flowers, and trees all benefit from it.”

Preserving the Future of Agriculture

Being a cattle rancher is only one of the ventures Darrell has taken on during his professional career. Darrell was a founding member of the California Rangeland Trust, a nonprofit organization with a mission of protecting California open spaces in perpetuity using conversation easements. Rangeland conservation is something he finds imperative to ranching in California, and he has also served in several other land trust leadership capacities on a national level.

Darrell’s ranch has been placed under a conservation easement, which eliminates the possibility of that land ever being converted for other uses and guarantees that his children and grandchildren, now the eighth generation involved in cattle ranching, can continue the Wood family legacy.

Partnering With Farm Credit

Trusted financial support is also crucial to continuing the family’s ranching legacy, so Darrell chose to work with Golden State Farm Credit over 30 years ago. In his early career life, Darrell worked for Farm Credit, so when he decided it was time to get financial support, Darrell was confident in Golden State Farm Credit’s ability to provide streamlined services that fit the needs of his business.

Golden State Farm Credit has helped Darrell maintain operations, purchase more property around him and invest in the sustainability ethic that is so important to him. Golden State Farm Credit has helped finance solar panels, which power all the electricity needed for buildings and water pumps, ultimately taking Darrell off the grid.

Darrell is always on the cutting edge of being a more efficient and sustainable cattle rancher, which is observed in all his efforts as a good steward of the land. His sustainability ethic completely aligns with that of Golden State Farm Credit and makes him the exact type of customer Golden State Farm Credit seeks to work with, and vice versa.

“Golden State Farm Credit has been a terrific partner for growth, and it’s certainly going to be in our plans to use them going forward,” Darrell concluded.