How often do you get the chance to actually see where your food comes from? Our Turning Green interns had the opportunity to take a virtual tour of Frog Hollow Farm. We had such fun looking at the gorgeous landscape and learning from Farmer Al and Conscious Kitchen Fellow Lucy — and are excited to share his wisdom and organic harvests with you here on our blog!
As his golf cart zipped along the roads criss-crossing the farm, Al told us that Frog Hollow not only prides itself on its ability to produce about 2 million pounds of organic fruit per year, but also on its regenerative agriculture. With practices like using cover crops and making compost, Farmer Al and his team are able to help rebuild the soil for future generations, pulling carbon out of the atmosphere where it is detrimental and putting it back into the ground where it is beneficial.
“We apply the term ‘regenerative agriculture’ to the way we treat our farm worker families and even the people that eat our produce,” Farmer Al explained. Caring for people by providing housing to workers and delicious, nutritious food to customers are part of regenerative agriculture, just as much as ground cover and composting. Rather than solely rebuilding soil, Frog Hollow helps to regenerate healthy, equitable communities for all of the people they serve!
Surrounded by acres of beautiful fruit trees, Al and Lucy pulled over to show us some of the Fantasia nectarines that were being picked, a traditional variety that Frog Hollow has been growing for 30 years. Right away, we could tell that these nectarines were special (by which we mean extra delicious!) and Lucy confirmed that our instinct to call the farm’s stone fruit the best around was correct.
“We test the fruit with a refractometer and in a process called bricking, and it tests the sweetness of the fruit. Normally, a conventional fruit would get a 10 to 12 ranking on bricks. But every time I test our fruit, it’s upwards of 18,” Lucy shared. “So these fruits are way sweeter than anything that you would find in the grocery store.” We all wished we had a piece in our hands at that moment!
By partnering with amazing people like Farmer Al, we aim to directly support their farms and show the world how much this work matters. Small farmers don’t have as many resources at their disposal or as much influence as large corporations, and when facing environmental challenges like California’s mega-drought, this can mean that the consequences of climate change are more difficult to handle. But they do it tree by tree, and steward the earth. Farmer Al says it best: “Anybody who has children and who is trying to grow a healthy, strong young man or woman [is] gonna be highly motivated to protect their food supply. So, let’s join hands and become a force to be reckoned with!”
We love stopping by Frog Hollow to learn from Farmer Al and bringing him to the schools where we work as well. From hosting our PGC Finalists year after year to answering questions from elementary school students in our Conscious Kitchens, there’s a reason that our teams keep coming back. Our programs and world are better because of places and practices like this — and we’re so glad to have had the chance to visit virtually this summer. Farmer Al always gets a ‘thumbs up’ from us!