Tresch Family Farms

With more than 2,500 acres and 750 Holstein, Jersey, and Jersey-Holstein cross breed milking cows, the Tresch Family Farms, located in beautiful Sonoma County, is Straus Family Creamery’s largest milk supplier. Joe and Kathy Tresch own the farm, working alongside their three adult children Joey, Lindsay, and Lydia. Joe and Kathy are deeply connected with their land. In 1995, they started the conversion to organic and in 1996, their cows became the second certified organic herd in California.

The Tresch family has been in the California dairy business since Joe’s family emigrated from Switzerland to California in the 1870s. The family’s journey led them to their current location in Petaluma, where Joe’s grandmother, Olympia Nonella Tresch, arrived as a 15-year-old with her family in 1905. They also brought two Holsteins, tied to the back of a springboard wagon. After Joe’s father passed away, he purchased the 320 acres from his stepmother in 1988 and leased an adjacent 1,189 acres.

The leased acreage brought Joe and the Straus family together when, in 1988, the City of Santa Rosa attempted to acquire the leased land to create a sewage reservoir. Joe and Kathy fought this plan and found allies in the Straus family, active members of the Friends of Estero organization, which tried to prevent the creation of the reservoir. After six years, they succeeded in saving the valley, and in 1996, the Tresches won the Sierra Club’s Environmentalists of the Year Award.

Joe had always been committed to a pasture-based and herbicide-free operation and followed numerous organic farm practices. When the Creamery needed more milk and the Tresches wanted to transition to organic, the collaboration was a natural one. The values that began with their great grandmother and nurtured by their parents are alive and thriving in the current generation of the Tresch family.

In addition to the dairy, Kathy Tresch, alongside her daughters, runs Olympia’s Apple Orchard on one of the two Tresch farms. The certified organic orchard grows more than 50 varietals of apples that are sold at farmers’ markets and local roadside fruit stands.

Tresch Family Farms Facts

25 acres
Covered by compost application
up to 100 tons
Carbon sequestered annually

Increasing Farmland's Carbon Sequestration

The Tresch Family is partnering with Sonoma Resource Conservation (RCD) and finalizing their Carbon Farm Plan in 2023. They are actively working to advance sustainability on their farms, beginning with a composting project funded by Zero Foodprint’s Restore California program that will increase their farmland’s carbon sequestration. The compost application will cover approximately 25 acres and sequester up to 100 tons of carbon annually (equivalent to not burning over 110,000 gallons of gas each year).

The $25,000 grant for this pilot project was generated by diners at Mission Chinese Food SF and Handline (Sonoma). Recology Organics provided the organic compost made from food scraps and green waste from SF Bay Area restaurants.