Way Down South
March 26, 2010
Shortcut: Go straight to the photo tour of three Southern CA farms.
How do you define local food? Is it grown 100 miles away? 200 miles? We hear this question all the time here at CUESA and, frankly, we’re less interested in establishing one definition of “local food” than we are in helping people become critical thinkers, engaged with what they eat. Food miles are an important part of the sustainability puzzle. However, it’s also crucial to look closely at the practices farmers and other producers employ (Do they conserve resources, improve the quality of the environment, and treat their workers well?), the viability of small farms and businesses, the survival of rural communities (many of whom are more that 200 miles away from the nearest urban area), and the preservation of farmland.
The majority of the farms that sell in the Ferry Plaza farmers market are located within 200 miles of San Francisco. But, if you’ve ever taken a look at our farm map, you’ll notice there are a few growers down in the southern part of the state. Some of these farms grow foods that need a warmer climate to thrive such as dates, citrus, and avocados. Some provide farmers with a range of growing climates that allow them to keep up with chefs and customers’ demands for a year-round supply of vegetables. One thing’s for sure: they all exist in areas with a rich agricultural heritage that is rapidly being paved over to make way for suburban sprawl.
Our Southern California farms don’t tend to get much of CUESA’s attention; they’re too far to visit on farm tours and the farmers involved don’t make it to market very often. So when CUESA’s Director of Operations, Dexter Carmichael, was down in San Diego for the California Small Farm Conference recently, he decided to pay a visit to three “southland” farms: Flying Disc Ranch, a date farm; Bernard Ranches, a citrus and avocado farm; and the second location of Star Route Farms, where a variety of vegetables are grown.
Dexter took some great photos while he was down there; join him for a photo tour of these three farms.