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Meet Your Farmer: Wisdom From Your Fall Fruit Farmers

By August 28, 2014Farmers, Meet Your Farmer

The shorter days that start to blend the end of summer and beginning of early fall are sweetened by grapes, fresh figs, and pears. Fall fruit just feels different. Depth, maturity, complexity, and age-old wisdom is packed inside. The Meet Your Farmer blog series presents: three life lessons from your fall fruit growers and the land and crops they care for.

Problem Solving with Uncle Vern

Our early fall Autumn Royal Grapes are grown by your very own Uncle Vern.

A trip past the vineyard at Vernon and Carol’s home ranch always lends itself to an anecdote for solving problems. The problem: the destruction caused by the vine mealybug. And the lesson is in the approach to finding a solution. In the words of Uncle Vern:

“How can you think through whatever’s impossible but needing to be done in your world?  
 You take an empty 5 gallon plastic  bucket to the center of the problem, flip it over and sit on it. Don’t just do something, sit there! It can be your field, your flock, your factory, your restaurant or your classroom. Take a few minutes of quiet observation and get in tune with whatever’s going on. Busyness will show you the symptom; stillness will show you its source.”

And we can see that all that bucket sitting produced an organic solution for the problem, because the grapes are still in the ground growing happily and making their way to your boxes as we speak.

Benefits of Endurance and Long-Suffering with Bob Steinacher

Your fresh figs are grown in the hardpan soil of Bob Steinacher’s family home in Corning. Figs are a unique fruit and Bob has a unique operation. His family is the northernmost fig grower in the United States, by about 200 miles, so they deal with challenges unknown to fig growers in the lower latitudes.

Bob is a first generation farmer, raised in the Bay Area. His daughter Deena, pictured with Bob above, is working her way toward taking over the farm in the future. You can get their full story here.

The lesson from the fig orchard is one of the fruit of struggle.  Bob’s fig trees battle against wind, frost, and tough hardpan soil, producing a complexity and depth that you can taste in the fruit.

“One of the reasons our fruit has a dense really intense flavor is that the soil is so poor, the trees struggle. I don’t know if they’re suffering, if they’re trying to reproduce—trying to propagate the next generation, so maybe they put more sugar in the fruit? Whatever it is, we do get a real intense sugar in our figs.” – Bob S.

Management and Knowing When Less is More with Dave Mostin

The sweet Bartlett pears each fall are from farmer Dave Mostin, near beautiful Clear Lake, California. Grown in just a handful of counties, all of California’s pears come out of an area of less than 10,000 acres, in two distinct regions in the state. Dave’s got generations of pear growers before him, and all his orchards are within two miles of his home place.  You can read more about the Mostin’s operation here.

The lessons locked up in Dave’s 113 year old orchard is managing for longevity.  So long as the tree is pruned hard, it will continue to produce good fruit. Get rid of what you don’t need if you want to keep having more of what you do.

Author Amy Beth

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