The first few years were rough. The microclimate was a bad match for strawberries, and money barely trickled in. Cochran paid the bills by picking up construction work for $6 an hour. He and his partner split. But slow as it was, Cochran was identifying effective practices through trial and error that would eventually revolutionize organic farming. "Once you start thinking about flavor, all sorts of things start occurring to you," he says. He selected a low-yielding variety, the Chandler, which, unlike varieties bred for industrial-scale farming, retains a high proportion of volatile oils that give it an alluring and intense strawberry scent. He wagered that the Chandler's mix of concentrated sweetness and fragrance would justify the higher price he'd have to charge. He found fertile land and enriched it with compost, reasoning that, as with wine grapes, the flavor would be more complex with more nutrients in the soil. And he pored over old agriculture texts, experimented with crop rotations, and—in partnership with now-renowned University of California, Santa Cruz, agro-ecologist Stephen Gliessman, a neighbor from the early days— found that rotating his fields with broccoli could strip the soil of disease. He and Gliessman also introduced a practice used only in greenhouses at the time: using one kind of mite to kill another with an appetite for berries.