A Visit To An Herb Farm

Old shade house with old lights:
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I went to San Diego County with a lady who knows everyone.  You probably know her.  One of the everyone she knows owns a herb farm, and she asked if she could visit.  "Okay," was the reply.  I got to go along.
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The farm produces organically grown herbs and edible flowers.  They also produce conventionally grown herbs in a separate growing area.  Their customers are wholesalers who sell the produce to customers such as grocers and restaurants.
Lemon grass in a poly house:
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Masses of pansies:
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The process begins with cultivated soil forming raised rows.  Drip irrigation is carefully placed. 
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Plastic row covers are added to hold in moisture and keep the plants as clean as possible.  The plastic also regulates soil temperature. Holes are punched in the plastic for the plants.
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Plants are grown from cuttings or seeds.  They are started in flats in one area of the farm. 
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The poly barriers in the distance protect the plants from wind, dust, and the occasional herbivore looking for a delicious meal.
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Then, one by one, each small start goes into the rows.  This is extremely hard work.  Could you crouch for hours in baking sun?
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Be grateful for those who grow your food.
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Rows filled, the plants begin to grow.  
Chives:
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The farm's largest crop is basil.
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Other herbs include thyme, rosemary, mint, arugula (rocket) and parsley.  Edible flowers include pansies, marigolds, and snapdragons.  I knew about the first two, but not about snapdragons.  The snaps were finished and drying up, so I didn't photograph them.  The marigolds, however...
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Some crops were out in the open, while others were sheltered with polyhouses (hoops with plastic film stretched over them).  There are also barriers around crops to protect and keep them as clean as possible.  Organic growing practices are followed:  we were not allowed to touch or even to get too close to the organic rows.   Workers wear hairnets and certain types of clothing when working in the rows, both for their protection and to keep the plants as clean as possible.
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And again, it's very hard work.  Be grateful for those who do that work.
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Harvest of various sections of the farm is continuous in San Diego County's mild climate.  The produce is picked, trucked that night to a processing plant near Los Angeles, cleaned and packaged, then sold that day to customers.  It might be in your salad or on your restaurant pasta dish the very next day.
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There had been multiple wildfires the week before our visit, during the ferocious heat wave.  One fire came within 20 feet of the farm.  The workers had to evacuate quickly and were forced to wonder if they had a job to return to.  Luckily the farm was saved.  
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Despite the rural appearance of the farm, it is quickly being surrounded by expensive homes.  Soon the farm will be expensive homes too, instead of rich and productive growing fields.
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Thank you, Ana, for the tour!
 


Comments

  1. I'm grateful every time I see the strawberry pickers in the fields. It's a very hard way to earn a living, especially when the wages barely cover subsistence.

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    Replies
    1. They have at least some rights now thanks to UFW's efforts in the 1960's and others, but it's still very hard. Seems to be more dignified work than being a temp at Wal-Mart.

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  2. One tends to think of farming as a rather romantic occupation. You do a service by pointing out what really hard work it actually is. Similar to the fantasy of opening a restaurant.

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  3. Hoov, there was an herb farm I used to visit in San Marcos in the 70's, Taylors. I don't recall it being this large or sophisticated, but herbs were just starting to be of interest then. Is this the same place ?

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    Replies
    1. No, this was Encinitas area. Growers have to go where there is land to lease.

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  4. A beautiful place, the rows of herbs and flowers look wonderful. Yes, these people work very hard and in difficult conditions, I never take my fresh produce for granted, I know that it has come about because of the work and effort of many dedicated people.
    xoxoxo ♡

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    Replies
    1. Farms really are beautiful when you love plants. :)

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  5. Thank you for this post. It's so important to realize where the food we eat comes from--that a lot of people work under often grueling conditions to bring us the fresh fruit and produce we're used to.

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    Replies
    1. I flat-out envied their drip irrigation. How did they get the rows that perfect? The days are numbered for San Diego County farming--more and more houses sprouting everywhere. It's already gone in LA and OC. I know Ventura County is firmly set on preserving their agricultural industry--good for them.

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