Hooper Ranch Protected

Merced County family protects an original farmstead creating a

living legacy of their grandmother’s grit

ELK GROVE, CA: One woman’s toughness lives on after more than 100 years. Following her husband’s passing in 1922, Marie Jorgensen Andersen, an immigrant from Denmark, was left with 600 acres, her kids, and the Great Depression soon to come. With help from her neighbors and an immigrant’s determination, she inspired her kids and grandkids to stay with the land that had provided so much. Now, after all this time, her grandchildren, including the Jorgensen Family and the Hooper Family, have ensured her legacy of caring for the land will live forever.

The California Farmland Trust (CFT) is pleased to announce the permanent conservation of the Hooper Family’s 275 acres of farmland near the City of Gustine. This conserved property completes the process by the family to protect all 600 acres, including the adjacent Jorgensen Ranch protected in 2008, of the original family farmstead started in 1908 by Marie and her husband. The Hooper family worked with CFT and the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service to place a conservation easement over this prime farmland in the heart of the Central Valley.  

“I used to think it was just my dad who loved this land, but as my siblings and cousins began to look back we realized it was our grandmother who really set this all in motion,” said Jim Jorgensen, CFT board member and Jorgensen Ranch owner. “She was the stalwart, it was her grit and determination to learn from her neighbors about farming this land that kept it from being paved over or sold off. We are eternally grateful.” 

“It is no small matter that four generations claim this farmland as the seedbed of our distinctive American narrative and tradition,” shared De-Anne Hooper, a family spokesperson. “My cousins and I are committed to showing our gratitude by upholding our forbearers’ farming legacy; keenly mindful of this opportunity to persevere in our family’s efforts to sustain the environment, improve and enrich our lives, and positively impact posterity. ”  

The Hooper land sits approximately two miles from the City of Gustine. The property is managed under a rotational field crop farming operation that includes processing tomatoes, green peppers, string beans, lima bean seeds, alfalfa, and safflower. This easement frees the land from the possibility of development so it can continue to grow our food and inspire future generations who may want to farm here someday. 

“The mission of the California Farmland Trust is to help farmers protect the best farmland in the world,” said CFT Executive Director Charlotte Mitchell. “This project embodies that mission, protecting the farmland and the family legacy. We are honored to be able to forever shepherd Marie’s legacy of hard work and determination.”

This project was funded by the NRCS with funding from the ACEP program.  

“This is the first ACEP agricultural land easement to be funded in Merced County,” said NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez. “It is truly a win-win, not only protecting hundreds of acres of prime soils for future farming generations, but also expanding on existing agricultural conservation in the area.”

For more information or photos, please contact: 

Melanee Cottrill, mcottrill@cafarmtrust.org or (916) 687-3178