farming

  • The Blos­som Hill orchards are located in Pat­ter­son, Cal­i­for­nia. Some sug­gest this loca­tion to be the world’s best apricot-​growing region.

    Lucich — San­tos Farms have been family-​owned for more than 90 years. For over 35 years, they’ve devel­oped exper­tise in grow­ing, pack­ing and ship­ping Cal­i­for­nia apri­cots and apri­ums under the Blos­som Hill Orchard name.

    Four gen­er­a­tions over­see the daily oper­a­tions. Their over­ar­ch­ing goal is to pro­vide cus­tomers with the best eat­ing, sweet­est, juicy apri­cots.

    Jim Lucich, sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Blos­som Hill, said the 2018 crop in Pat­ter­son is lighter than usual. Weather played a part with the crop set. Chill hours were lower than needed, and some cold and rain that came after the bloom had an effect on the crop.

    The com­pany grows its apri­cots in a sustainable-​minded envi­ron­ment. Lucich and San­tos Farms and Blos­som Hill Packing’s objec­tive is to pro­duce pre­mium deli­cious fruit with food safety in mind.
  • By Kath­leen Weaver

    Most con­sumers believe pro­duce comes shrouded in plas­tic; per­fectly selected apples pre­sented in a pris­tine pack­age ready to enjoy. And while any­one eat­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles excites me for all the obvi­ous rea­sons; health and com­merce related, there is one sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence between the eater of today and that of the past. Eighty years ago most folks knew how an apple was grown, which is no longer the case.

    Eighty years ago a sub­stan­tial chunk of the work­force was employed in agri­cul­ture; 22% of work­ers rep­re­sent­ing roughly 27 of 123 mil­lion peo­ple who called the US home at the time. They farmed on small farms in all regions of the US pro­duc­ing mostly for their own sub­sis­tence. How­ever, trends began to shift with elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, mech­a­niza­tion, and infra­struc­ture and trans­port improve­ments, allow­ing peo­ple to seek off-​farm work. This is where we see the most sub­stan­tial change in our food sys­tem that until recently remained unchallenged.

  • Farm­ing isn’t just about fresh pro­duce. It’s also about sus­tain­able food and com­mu­nity cul­ture.

    As stu­dents return to the class­room and sum­mer days slip away, its time to plan a trip to a local farm, orchard or ranch.

    Fall har­vests give the con­sumer an up close and per­sonal view of how our foods are grown and pro­duced. This per­spec­tive allows for greater appre­ci­a­tion and admi­ra­tion.

    Start to fin­ish, the process of seed to fork is more than just a catchy slo­gan to the peo­ple pro­duc­ing our food. It’s a full­time com­mit­ment and major invest­ment of time, money and human resources.

    Cul­ti­vat­ing soil, grow­ing crops and rais­ing live­stock all con­tribute to the rich agri­cul­tural story in the United States. From bee keep­ing to hor­ti­cul­ture, the life-​work equa­tion for farm­ers gets blurry. There is no line that typ­i­cally will sep­a­rate the two.

    On a daily basis, from morn­ing to night­fall, farm­ers move from task to task. As a way of life, there is a rhythm to nec­es­sary duties that fol­low each sea­son. This real life drama plays out with daily work lists and plenty of grit, deter­mi­na­tion and ambi­tion. No couch squat­ters allowed.
  • Food safety risks may be reduced on the farm by fol­low­ing good agri­cul­tural prac­tices (GAPs).

    GAPs help grow­ers under­stand the prac­tices and risks asso­ci­ated with their farm. They help iden­tify prac­ti­cal ways to reduce the risk of con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing pro­duce being grown, har­vested and packed.

    There is no such thing as zero-​risk, but prac­tices and steps need to be in place on farms to min­i­mize any poten­tial risk of con­t­a­m­i­na­tion. Although the com­mon prin­ci­ples of GAPs don’t change from farm to farm, each GAP is unique, as every grower does things dif­fer­ently.

    GAPs focus on assess­ing the risk in five key areas:
    Water
    Manure/​Compost and Soil Amend­ments
    Land Use (Previous/​Adjacent) and Ani­mal Access (Domestic/​Wildlife)
    Equip­ment, Tools & Build­ings
    Employee Health & Hygiene
  • Its easy to ignore “The sky is falling” warn­ings when they are incon­clu­sive. The clas­sic folk tale of Henny Penny (Chicken Lit­tle) bares rec­ol­lec­tion when food safety is at stake.

    The most recent indus­try mes­sages regard­ing romaine let­tuce alerts have been frus­trat­ing for every­one in the sup­ply chain.

    In defense of all stake­hold­ers, no one wants to err on the side of per­sonal ill­ness or worse case sce­nario, death.

    As com­pa­nies wait for more infor­ma­tion from fed­eral agen­cies on the E. coli O157:H7 out­break that has been ascribed to chopped romaine only and not a spe­cific sup­plier, fresh pro­duce indus­try asso­ci­a­tions are com­mu­ni­cat­ing in a uni­form voice about the sit­u­a­tion.

    United Fresh Pro­duce Asso­ci­a­tion, Pro­duce Mar­ket­ing Asso­ci­a­tion, Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion and the Leafy Greens Mar­ket­ing Agree­ment have worked in con­cert on com­mu­ni­ca­tions regard­ing this recent outbreak.
  • Cal­i­for­nia avo­ca­dos have arrived! They are gen­er­ally avail­able from April to Sep­tem­ber, but for the nearly 5,000 grow­ers in the state, the avo­cado sea­son is a year-​round endeavor.

    Farm­ers walk their avo­cado groves every month to check on the trees, assess weather affects and grove con­di­tions. They must ensure avo­ca­dos are on the right track for pro­jected har­vests. Each stage in the growth cycle is crit­i­cal.

    Avo­ca­dos, grown on trees, have a tree growth cycle with six stages: flow­er­ing, shoot growth, root growth, fruit set, fruit growth, and har­vest.
    That’s a lot to watch and care for dur­ing each sea­son.

    Cal­i­for­nia pro­duces about 90 per­cent of the nation’s avo­cado crop. Ninety-​five per­cent of Cal­i­for­nia avo­ca­dos are the Hass (rhymes with pass) vari­ety.

    The Hass vari­ety accounts for about 80 per­cent of all avo­ca­dos eaten world­wide. By now, most of us under­stand that an avo­cado is actu­ally a fruit.
  • A 300 mile radius, or less, to define locally grown may not mat­ter much to those that are able to pick straight from a hoop house out back every­day.

    That real­ity doesn’t exists for most fresh pro­duce cus­tomers.

    For three sea­sons out of the year, regional grow­ers make it easy for us to scratch our local itch. That fourth sea­son is tougher to rely on for close to home grown.

    Liv­ing in the mid-​west, or other cold belt states, poses real chal­lenges for sourc­ing fresh pro­duce from inside the USA dur­ing win­ter.

    Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona and Florida man­age to eek out a fair amount of crop pro­duc­tion through the dead of win­ter. The desert regions (Yuma and Huron) do the heavy lift­ing for Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia let­tuce and wet veg­etable production.