Webb Ranch

Five generations of family farming

Deano Levecchio has his hands full at Webb Ranch’s produce stand, the Farmers Market

Photograph by Lane Johnson

 A regular customer who first visited Webb Ranch 40 years ago places a colorful assortment of fruits and vegetables on the counter and chats with ranch employee Shyer Lovecchio.

“See you next Friday,” Lovecchio calls out to the woman as she leaves with her weekly haul of fresh, organic produce.

Located at Alpine Road and I-280 in Portola Valley, Webb Ranch has been serving the local community for decades. George and Florence Webb started the ranch in 1922. Five generations of Webbs still live on the 300-acre property, which is land leased from Stanford University. Stanley Webb, the couple’s youngest son, began farming with his father as a little boy and took over the ranch in the 1950s. Now in his 90s, Stanley Webb is cared for by his son Gary Webb. His son-in-law, Tom Hubbard, runs the farm.

“Stanley is still as smart as a whip,” says Deano Lovecchio, who manages the ranch’s Farmers Market produce stand together with his wife, Shyer. “He’ll come into the Farmers Market every so often and has so many interesting stories to tell. He’s literally been here since the beginning… It’s neat to see how Webb Ranch has evolved.”

Lovecchio says that back in the 1960s and 1970s when the pesticide DDT was heavily marketed to farmers, Stanley Webb refused to use it on his ranch. He intuitively knew how to farm in a “green” way, and he implemented techniques such as releasing ladybugs to curb aphid outbreaks.

Today, everything grown and produced by Webb Ranch is certified organic by CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmer). Produce from other local farms that is sold at Webb Ranch is herbicide- and pesticide-free or CCOF-certified, as well.

As part of Webb Ranch’s sustainability policy, the ranch uses drip irrigation and is dedicated to composting. “There is no garbage. We recycle everything on the ranch and the only chemical we use is water,” Lovecchio says.

From its “you-pick” berry and pumpkin patch programs to its bounce house, equine events, and pony and hayrides, Webb Ranch is a kid-friendly place. School groups, including many special needs students, visit the ranch to learn about organic farming. “I think sometimes the adults learn more than the kids,” Lovecchio says.

During berry season, Webb Ranch opens its 12 acres of olallieberries, Navaho blackberries, golden and red raspberries, boysenberries, and loganberries to the public for picking. “It’s all weather dependent. Mother nature plays a huge role,” Lovecchio says. The season generally runs until autumn’s first frost, with different berries ripening at different times. The olallieberries usually ripen first. “When they’re ripe, it’s like popping a sugar cube into your mouth,” he says.

Open from the last week of September through Halloween, the ranch’s pumpkin patch boasts thousands of organic orange, blue, white, and red pumpkins, as well as Halloween-themed activities including a haunted house and pony rides. Visitors go for hay rides into the corn fields, where they can pick and eat a fresh ear of corn right off the stalk.

September is also the best time to pick up some locally renowned Ace 55 tomatoes, an organic variety Webb Ranch began planting in 1955, and Blue Lake green beans. “The baby Blue Lakes are so soft and tender you don’t even have to cook them. I get daily phone calls from customers when they’re in season,” Lovecchio says. Webb Ranch distributes tomatoes to Mollie Stone’s Markets and produce to a few local restaurants. Each year, Webb Ranch teams ups with Menlo Park’s Flea Street Café to serve a farm-to-mouth dinner event.

For more information about Webb Ranch, visit www.webbranchinc.com or call or .