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Thursday, April 28, 2016

3rd Stop - Leichtag Property which is located at the historic Ecke Ranch in Encinitas CA

Our 3rd stop is the historic Ecke Ranch in Encinitas CA.   Ecke ranch was once part of a 900 acre farm where todays popular poinsettas were bred, developed and marketed to become today's popular christmas party.  
The ranch has been  downsized and sold off to developers who have built homes to take advantage of views of the Pacific Ocean.   There are still 67 acres left with much of it comprised of greenhouses.   At one point - there were 200 acres of greenhouses on the ranch.

The ranch was sold to the Leichtag foundation.    The Leichtag foundation was created by the late  Lee and Toni Leightag who are well knowns benefactors to San Diego hospitals, colleges, and charities.   Here is a picture of Lee and Toni.



The foundation purchased the Ecke ranch to start  Coastal Roots farm which will use jewish farming practices from the bible.

These practices include.

The Shemitah Year (the Land’s Sabbath)

   Every seventh year, the farm shall not plant or sow any crop in the soil, nor tend or prune any orhard or vine.    Although this is a biblical rule, the practical purpose of this rule is to allow your land to rest every seven years.    Modern farmers do something similar by leaving a field fallow very few years to give it a rest.   Its a basis of sustaining your soil quality.

The Law of Peah (Leaving the Corners)

This rule requires farmers to leave the corners of the fields unharvested for the poor in the community.    This may have been an important source of food for the poor in ancient times, we don't have poor people foraging for food today.    The real benefit of following this rule is that you allow food and habitat for wildlife.   With the loss of habitat, having a part of the field left for wildlife allow for food and cover for birds, rabbits, deer, and other wildlife.    This law also require a farmer to abstain from harvesting a orchard or vineyard for the first 3 years.    This also provide food for wildlife and allows the trees or vines to grow strong before putting harvesting pressure on it.

When we arrived we were greeted by Daron Joffe, known as "Farmer D".   He is the director of agricultural innovation and development.    He explained the background of the farm and also how they are applying jewish farming practices.   It was currently a Shemitah year so they were growing all of their crops in long fiber socks which are on the surface to avoid violating the rule that nothing can be planted in the ground during the shemitah.  

Here are some images of the tour


Farmer D  - Daron greeting us and giving us a brief history of the ranch.





Here are some images of the growing tubes with various types of veggies.






This a view from one of the hills on the farm, overlooking the greenhouses.    You can see the pacific ocean in the distance.
Some newly planted vineyards.   Farmer D indicated they will not harvest these vineyards for 3 years. 


Some of the greenhouses are leased to tropical plant, cactus and flower growers who breed and grow plants for retail and wholesale customers.    Here are some pictures of grafted cactus and barrel cactus in some of the greenhouses.    It's quite an extensive operation as you will see from the sheer quantity of cactus's under production.