Steve and Klytia Burcham of Gage Farms

Larry and Linda Gage started Gage Farms, located on old river ground just outside of Firebaugh, California. The farm is part of the original Henry Miller farm and even has the original dairy barn.

Larry had been farming 3,500 acres and running a spray business when he suffered his third heart attack. As way to slow down, Larry and Linda decided to purchase their own farmland. As a landowner, Larry was able to take his time and thoroughly research what to plant. All of Larry’s research pointed to pistachios as the next booming crop.

They planted their first field in 1998 with the help of the Anderson and the Andrews families. At the time there weren’t many pistachio orchards, so the other farmers in the area were having a good laugh at the “stick farmer.” It’s been said that Larry is the one who’s laughing now.

In 2000, the family grew with the marriage of their daughter Klytia to Steve Burcham. Steve immediately became actively involved on the farm and worked side by side with Larry, learning all about how to grow pistachios. Together they planted their last crop in 2005.

In 2011, when Larry passed away, Steve took over the family business. Steve credits the knowledge he gained from Larry, the help from Joe Martinez (who has worked on the farm for the last 30 years – he’s become a member of the family) and the support from neighbors and the pistachio industry for the success of Gage Farms. Steve said, “Larry always said, ‘Don’t let these trees need or want for anything. Although pistachio trees are survivors, they will thrive with care and devotion.’ Steve does his best to carry on Larry’s tradition.

According to Steve, “What I really love about being a pistachio farmer is that being part of APG makes me feel like I am part of one big family.”

Comparing his days as a computer network technician to pistachio farming, Steve said, “Being a technician for eighteen years in the Bay area, without any farming experience, caused many people to think I would either destroy the farm or lose it—or both. However, I found farming to be very similar to fixing computers or networks. When something is not working, I figure out how to fix or adjust it. The major difference is that with computers you know right away what works and what doesn’t. With pistachio trees, you don’t know for a year or two, so you’d better take good notes.”

Currently, Steve serves as president of Firebaugh Rotary and as a trustee of the church he and his wife attend. He enjoys a good game of golf (“Just wish I had a good one.”), traveling, camping, and spending time on the farm with their five loveable and tire-chewing dogs. Steve goal is to be on the leading edge of pistachio farming technology.

The Burcham Family

Steve and Klytia Burcham of Gage Farms