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Friday, October 30, 2015

Another Tomato Story - The good, the bad, and the amazing!

I received some pictures of tomatoes from a friend of mine who also manages a restaurant.   They are typical of what most large restaurants receive.    They are picked green and then gassed with ethylene to help them ripen.  The problem is they don't ever get the same flavor or color as if they were ripened on the vine.
This isn't a slam on the restaurant, because when you have contract suppliers for produce, this is what you get.  

Another option is to visit small restaurants that buy locally grown produce as much as possible.

One option is Riverside, is the Woodfire Cafe at 3965 Market St.   Its on Market and downtown, across the street from City Hall.   Here is a picture of a caprese salad that he serves.   The tomatoes were sourced locally by me, and the basil was grown on my farm.    Take a look at how red the tomatoes are.

This dish shows the amazing color of a vine ripened tomato.

Here are the images of the typical tomatoes that are available to restaurants.
They are still very green and there is a red lid beside the tomatoes to show the contrast.
As I said - this isn't mean that restaurants are serving bad produce.   These tomatoes will work fine, but could taste better.   This is why it's important to have a vibrant farming community in Riverside growing local produce.   Please don't email me and ask which restaurant, because it really doesn't matter as any restaurant in the US could have tomatoes like this delivered from their produce supplier.


Monday, October 26, 2015

First - Mama Snake, Now Baby Snake

I saw a adult red raced snake on my farm a few weeks ago.   I now saw a baby red racer baby snake sunning itself on a log.   They are harmless snakes that will eat bugs and small lizards as babies and rats and mice as adults.
Here are a couple pictures of the baby red racer.   It allowed me to take a couple pictures, then disappeared under the log.

Sad state of Tomatoes!

This is a box of tomatoes that we received at a restaurant I manage.   This is how commercial tomatoes are grown.  They are picked fairly green and then gassed with Ethylene to ripen them when they are near their destination.  This is done because truly ripe tomatoes don't ship well as they will bruise and crack from the transportation process.    This is a by produce of mass farming in certain areas and then shipped to consumers, sometimes many states away.  

Here are some images of the various states green tomatoes are picked.

Here is images of the roma tomatoes that we received.  They look to be state 5 - and virtually have no taste

This is why we need to promote and support local agriculture in the City of Riverside and especially the green belt.   There are hundreds of acres of vacant agricultural land that could be used to grow vegetables.      There is nothing like the taste of a truly vine ripened tomato picked at the peak of ripeness.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Kiva Zip cold storage loan - almost funded thanks to Reid Hoffman

My Kiva Zip loan to build cold storage on the farm is almost funded.
I have $425.00 left with 7 days to go.    I have seen a big influx of lending due to the fact that Reid Hoffman, founder of Linkedin - opted to match every loan up to $300.00.   That caused a big jump in lending.  I have 93 lenders who have helped me get to this point, and I am very thankful.
Here a brief bio from google on Reid Hoffman.   Below that is a copy of my account page for the loan showing the updated total as of this morning.

        Image result for reid hoffman net worth
    Reid Hoffman
    Reid Garrett Hoffman is an American internet entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author. Hoffman is best known as the co-founder of LinkedIn, a business-oriented social network used primarily for professional networking. Wikipedia
    BornAugust 5, 1967 (age 48), Stanford, CA
    SpouseMichelle Yee (m. 2004)
    Net worth3.6 billion USD (2015) Forbes

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Riverside Food Cooperative Annual Meeting

Fox farm hosted the Riverside Food Cooperatives annual meeting the last Sunday of September.    The annual meeting is required and a annual financial report must be presented along with voting on pertinent issues.     I am also a board member of the cooperative, so I offered the farm as the venue for the meeting.    We decided to make it a potluck with a emphasis on vegetarian and gluten free dishes.    We created a signup process on Eventbrite and also opened the meeting to non members so we could gain some additional members.   We had 145 sign up and around 100 attended.  It was a nice mix of coop members and non members.    We gained 6 new members who signed up during or after the BBQ.  If your interested in joining the Riverside Food Coop, please visit
and click on join.

Here a couple pictures of me welcoming the attendees to the meeting.

I asked the landowner of my farm to speak.   Her name is Lana Hapeman and she has owned the orchard and farm for 25 years.   She is very dedicated maintaining properties like this, rather then turning them into housing tracts.

We invited Arthur Levine of Huerta de Valle, and community garden and working farm in the flight path of the Ontario Airport in Ontario Ca.    Its a wonderful concept where the sales from the farm support the community garden by providing seeds, water, etc.  Arthur is a fellow from Pitzer College in Claremont CA.   The farm receives support from Pitzer College and Kaiser Permantente.  Arthur spoke about the need for community garden and the value of people growing their own food as a way to alleviate poverty and improve the health of a community.

We then discussed Cooperative business.
I spoke about the need for a food hub and that we would like to open a food hub along with a cooperative store and one may come before the other.

We also discussed the grant we received to sell vegetables on the Eastside of Riverside from the City of Riverside and Kaiser Permanente.    Nick M spoke about his work in implementing the grant.

One of the facets of the grant is the weekly harvest bag.  The program provides weekly bags of produce at a greatly reduced price along with health and nutrition classes.   Lorie Brendecke, a county nutritionist, also plans and implements the classes for this program.   

The legally required component of the annual meeting is the financial report.  Sue Struthers, the treasurer asked to do that last, since its also the most boring part.  Here she is discussing the financial report.

Finally, the end of the meeting and time to eat.   The cooperative provided beef and veggie burgers and the guests all provided a side dish that would complement a farm bbq.  
My partner, Duane Cook and one of our friends, Brian Garretson, and Jorge Fierro, a coop core member volunteered to man the grills.    Duane has the hat,  Brian is wearing solid blue shirt, and Jorge has the blue checkered shirt.

The feast begins.   There was nice selection of salads and side dishes for guests to choose.  Here are some images of the guests making their choices.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Pond Filling - Completed

The pond is full - after 3 days of filling.   I have only ever seen the pond with is dirty water.   It looks amazing with clear water.   Our next goal is to create a environment that will keep the water clean.  We are going to add water lillies, plants, and lotuses to help filter the water.   We will not be adding anymore catfish as they eat everything and will end of up with the same situation as before.   We also want to add some goldfish, mosquito fish, frogs and turtles.

Here are the images of the pond now.  I hope it stays that clear awhile.

Filling the Pond Day 2

We continued filling the pond.  We didn't fill at night because we didn't want something to go wrong like a hose busting and leaking.   This is the pond after 24 hours of filling

Filling the Pond - Day 1

We struggled with whether to immediately fill the pond.   Our plan was to drain it during the rainy season when we didn't have to water the orchard and vegetable area.   The failure of the circulation system forced us to do it earlier than planned.    We thought about leaving the pond empty for a month or two.   The problem is that the pond in lined and the sun will deteriorate the liner over time as it sits empty.   We decided to start filling the pond.   We also have had some rain so we haven't been watering for a few days.   Additionally, the pond water is used to water the orchard.  

The pictures are after 12 hours of filling the pond

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Cleaning The Pond - Muck, Muck and more Muck

Once we drained all the water, we were faced with 4 feet of muck on the bottom.   This was fish waste, dead fish, muds, and all kinds of awful odors.   Unfortunately,  there isn't a pump that will remove mud.   We had to shovel it into buckets, carry it up to the top of the pond, and dump it into a wheelbarrow.    We dumped the mud in the flower bulb portion and along some of the fruit trees.    It was a time consuming a smelly process.

Here are pictures of the workers with the buckets and the final resting place of the muck.   There is one picture of me standing in the muck.   We had to be very careful with shovels so we didn't poke a hole in the liner.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Draining the Pond - Final Day

We are finally close to the bottom of the pond.  As the water lowers,  the deepest part of the pond is becoming visible.    It where the intake for the pump is located.  It became clear why it stopped pumping.  There is a big pile of mud in the bottom.   The deepest part is just below a perch on the top where the owners children would dive in.   At that point, its about 12 feet deep.    The deepest part is about 4 feet deep and full of mud.   Stinky, smelly, thick, gross mud.