In 1865-1867, the Winter family voyaged from Germany to settle in the Ione Valley of California. 140 years later the land is still in the family and one portion is known as Winterport Farm. This 180 acre farm, now run by Dan and Susan (nee Winter) Port, was purchased by the Winters in 1905 and is adjacent to the original homestead. A family farm for over 100 years, the land has served as a dairy, melon and vegetable farm, community pumpkin patch, choose and cut Christmas tree farm, and most recently, a cattle ranch producing natural and grass-fed beef.
After World War II, Susan’s father, George, operated a 60 cow dairy. In 1970, with dairies changing from family farms to the large industrial operations we see today, he was told by his milk processor to “get big or get out” and he gave up the dairy to raise beef calves. Shortly thereafter Dan and Susan moved back to the farm. They rescued an 1875 farmhouse from a neighboring farm, moved it next door to George, fixed it up and painted it yellow – and a local landmark was born.
In 1978, they gave up their teaching careers and made the committment to earn their living from farming. For the next 20 years, Dan and Susan helped George with the cattle and sold melons and vegetables from their roadside stand and local farmer’s markets, providing affordable, healthy, local food in their community and beyond. With the encouragement of local teachers they began offering field trips and scarecrow building for schoolchildren at their pumpkin patch. Off the farm, Dan was a founding director of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers.
Ten years ago, Susan resumed her teaching career and Dan began to focus on raising beef calves. He now sells grass-fed beef at Farmers' Markets and in bulk packages.
In 2008, the Ports sold a conservation easement on the farm to the Sacramento Valley Conservancy to preserve it forever. The purchase was funded by the California Farmland Conservancy Program. For more details on this joint effort to conserve valuable agricultural land, see this article.