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Monday, March 30, 2015

"Dinners in the Grove" will be held at Fox Farm

The second Grow Riverside "Dinners in the Grove" will be held at the property where my farm is located on May 16th, 2015.    The chefs from RUSD (Riverside Unified School District) will be preparing a farm to fork meal utilizing some of my vegetables and other locally sourced food.    

The proceeds of the tickets go towards supporting the Grow Riverside Conference in Riverside CA on June 11, 2015.

GrowRIVERSIDE seeks to foster a local food and agriculture system that benefits the community, environment and economy.
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We are pleased to announce that the next GrowRIVERSIDE "Dinner in the Grove"will take place on Saturday, May 16. So, if you missed the first dinner, which sold out in a matter of weeks, make sure to register early to reserve your spot:

And now for the dinner details:

The Nutrition Services team at Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) works tirelessly on a daily basis to provide healthy farm-to-school options to the approximately 43,000 students spread across 31 schools located in the district. But, onSaturday, May 16, under the stars and amidst the groves and fruit trees at Fox Farm / Hapeman Ranch in the City of Riverside, RUSD’s culinary brain trust will focus their attention on just 60 diners lucky enough to claim tickets for the 2nd GrowRIVERSIDE “Dinner in the Grove”.
Bringing the same enthusiasm that they usually reserve for farm-to-school lunches, RUSD’s Nutrition Services team will prepare a farm-to-table meal utilizing locally sourced food from growers across the county as well as from the farm of host and sponsor, Fox Farm / Hapeman Ranch.
The dinner will support the upcoming 2nd Annual GrowRIVERSIDE Conference, celebrate Riverside’s citrus heritage and local produce and the efforts of RUSD Nutrition Services to serve health farm fresh meals to the children of Riverside.
Rodney Taylor and members of the RUSD Nutrition Services team will speak on the importance of local food and farmers to RUSD while Scott Berndt of Fox Farm and Lana Hapeman of Hapeman Ranch will discuss urban farming as well as the importance of preserving farmland in the City of Riverside.
Summary of Details:
What: Second “GrowRIVERSIDE Dinner in the Grove”
When: Saturday, May 16, 2015 from 6:30pm – 10:00pm
Where: Fox Farm / Hapeman Ranch – 5903 Grand Ave., Riverside, CA 92504
Registration and Tickets


Click Here to Reserve Your Spot!

More Info:
Seed Saver GrowRIVERSIDE Conference Tickets:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Raspberry, Strawberry, and Tomato planting workshop - images

We held a planting workshop and volunteer event on Saturday.   There were around 50 people in attendance including master gardeners.   The event went very well and it actually only took us a hour to plants 800 tomato plants,  450 strawberry plants, and 60 raspberry plants.

Here are images of the event.

People were waiting in front of the property waiting to be escorted.   Note the ladies with work aprons and bags and boxes of tools.  The master gardeners who attended brought their own tools.
The owner of the property where the farm is located doesn't want people walking around unattended so we had to escort them back in small groups as they arrived.

We had a brief session where different speakers spoke about the importance of protecting urban farms and their importance on local food security.  
We also spoke about the Riverside Food Cooperative and they signed up 3 new members/coop owners as they move towards their goal of opening a store in Riverside the sells locally grown produce and fruit.
We also spoke about Grow Riverside and the ground breaking work that group is doing in the city to protect and develop agriculture as an economic engine in Riverside.

Here is a picture of the Master Gardeners who were there to assist in the planting.

Let the planting begin.  With all the help, it only took a hour or so.  We then had a light lunch of sandwiches, potato salad, and macaroni salad under the shade of the pepper tree.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Raspberry, Strawberry, and Tomato planting Event

The event today at Fox Farm was a great success.

I think there were around 50 people there today.
Half of the group were master gardeners or master gardener trainees.   The rest were residents of Riverside who belonged the Wood Streets Green Team, Grow Riverside, The Riverside Food Coop, and Tesquesquite Community Garden.    Thank you to everyone who helped plant.  I appreciated the help.
We spoke about the need to protect properties like this farm from development.  

We also spoke about the Riverside Food Coop - and here is there web site if you like more information and would like to join.  its

We also spoke about Grow Riverside and that movement that has been supported and developed by the City of Riverside to make agricultural and viable economic engine.
Their website is

We started planting at 10am and by 11:15 or so - we were finished.   We planted 60 Raspberries.   The varieties we planted were Red Latham and Heritage.

Here's a picture of the plants.

We also planted 450 Strawberry Plants.   We planted Quinalt, Fort Laramie, and Eclair strawberries.   They are all everbearing varieties.      They were all bare root strawberry plants.    Here's a picture of the plants.

 We also planted 800 Tomato Plants.   75% of them were heirloom and the remaining plants were standard varieties.      Here are some pictures of the rows.   We planted 4 - 50 foot rows and 1 - 100 foot row of tomatoes.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Soil - They Key to healthy plants!

People sometimes ask me why my plants grow so nice.   They say "I must have a green thumb".  I can assure you,  my thumb isn't green and I have killed my share of plants.  It wasn't until I realized that preparing the soil is the key to having healthy plants.      Healthy soil takes a lot of work - and some investment.  There is a saying that you should spend 10 times the amount of money on your soil that you do on the plants or seeds.     The soil is Riverside CA has a lot of clay.   The good thing about clay is that is holds water, but the bad thing about clay is that it holds water.   Most plants like to have damp roots - but when they sit it wet soil for too long, the roots will begin to rot which will stunt or kill the plant.     They key to good soil is Compost, Compost, Compost!.   Adding compost to your soil will allow air and water to move through the soil - especially if theres a lot of clay in your soil.    Even if you don't have clay, compost will still help.  Its a way of improving the fertility of your soil with having to add chemical fertilizers.

I usually will start by adding compost is a 50/50 ratio.  Half soil/half compost.   Then every time I turn the soil to add plants, remove dead plants,  I add more compost at 10-20% compost depending on the condition of the soil     Compost is made by taking plant material - and allowing it to decompose, usually heating the compost pile enough to kill weed seeds and insect larvae.  It should be nice a black and have a earthy smell.

Double digging is also recommended, but I don't double dig.   Its a great way to burn you out on preparing your soil.  Double digging requires you to remove the top 8-10 inches of soil - set it aside, the dig compost into the subsoil.    Then you add compost to the pile of soil from the upper levels and return the soil to the hole.   This requires a lot of work and you can only get a small section done.   It's a great way to improve your soil, but I have 2.5 acres.  I would never get anything planted because I would be double digging all the time.

Here are some pictures of compost.

 Here is how much I added to each row before I tilled the compost in.

After a couple years of constantly adding compost,  your soil will become nice and rich.  It will become black and will dig up easily.  You will be able to squeeze it together and i will feel like a sponge, but break apart when you drop it.   If your soil is heavy clay, it would stay together in clump when you drop it, and will dry into hard clumps.   
Here is a picture of some soil that I have been working on for two years.   You can see there are still pieces of organic material in the soil which is good.   At this point, I will start soil testing and adding organic ingredients to correct any deficiencies.   I wouldn't waste the money on soil testing until after a year or two of amending the soil with compost.   A soil test will ask you to add a bunch of chemical fertilizers - which compost will do naturally.  

If you want to buy large amounts of compost -  you can get if from Growers choice in Menifee by the truckload.  If you want smaller bags, you can get some really nice compost at CPS (Crop Productions Services) on 3rd street.  Its just a block south of Vine and on the other side of the railroad tracks on 3rd street in  downtown Riverside.  Its called Superior compost and doesn't contain sewage waste.   Its about $4.00 a bag and they will load the bags for you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring is Here - March Flowers

A lot of the fruit and nut trees are flowering right now.  The unseasonably warm weather (high 80's) the last few weeks have sped up the flowering process on a lot of the trees.  I took pictures of all the trees and other plants that are flowering right now.

Here is the nectarine tree flowering

Here is the Walnut tree flowering.  They are rather wierd looking flowers - but they are flowers with the specific purpose of creating walnuts.

Another nut tree - The Macadamia Nut tree is also blooming.  They are little nicer than the walnut, but still a unusual flower.

The plum tree - one of 2 on the property is also blooming -

The pomegranate tree is also blooming with its distinct red flowers
The avocado tree is also blooming. They are rather ugly flowers, but will produce a valuable fruit.
The Grapefruit trees are in full bloom also.  As you can see, last years fruit is still on the trees and need to be removed as its hard on the tree to produce the new fruit while still maintaining last years fruit.

Finally, some of my irises are blooming also.  The bearded iris is Epicenter the the yellow dutch iris is golden Beauty.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Veggie Update - growing well.

I removed the insect netting from all my rows.  The plants were growing so tall that is was restricting their growth.   They are big enough to handle any insects or rabbits that may be hungry.  Some of the lettuces are ready to harvest.   Here are pictures of the rows.

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Dinners in the Grove" - A Farm-to-Table Dinner Series to Support GrowRIVERSIDE Seedstock in Partnership with The City and Community of Riverside

Duane and I attended this Farm to Table dinner at Charlotte Davidson's Farm in the green belt of Riverside.    The green belt is a portion of Riverside CA that is mostly citrus groves or other agricultural uses.      The dinner was held to support the Grow Riverside Conference that will be held in June.   See for more information regarding the conference.

Its was a great dinner and I was lucky enough to try stinging nettle salad.   It had an interesting flavor. Not sure if I want to try it again - but it was not bad.  I am always hoeing up stinging nettle and cursing it, so it was wierd to be eating it.    The orange blossoms were in full bloom and the temperature was around 70 degrees so it was a beautiful night.  is a link to more pictures of the event.

Here are some pictures I took of the table and group of people milling around the house (or bar).