Monday, September 21, 2009

Local sixfortyseven

Derek and his wife Amanda Luhowiak operate a mobile food kitchen out of their home on route 647 in Fauquier County called “Local sixfortyseven” whose name comes from their address and Derek´s roots in Pittsburg, a city with a strong union presence. Having given up their day jobs the young couple have embraced all that is sustainable serving up their local fare on sugar cane plates that are themselves compostable. Their idea is to motor up with their portable kitchen and serve food at the local farmers markets.

Talking over a bottle of Barrel Oak Norton wine--a winery from which Derek and Amanda recently resigned to pursue their passion full-time—Derek and his wife serve up a lunch from their kitchen which is stainless steel and fully equipped.

Derek, who learned to cook at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, says last year he went to interview for a job as a sous chef in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. At the interview they told him to go to the farmers market, buy food and cook for four people. Derek says, “The Chapel Hill farmers market was out of this world. They have a really cool foodie kind of local scene there. As I was walking around I was thinking 'I don't want to go back to the kitchen. I want to go to the farmers market.' So the idea kind of sprung up around me being at the farmer's market.”

On a day late in winter Derek servers venison hamburger (he shot that so cannot sell it), deviled eggs from local free range chicken, mayonnaise and pickles for the visiting journalist. Plus there is a salad of local greens including wild onions (called “ramps”) that Derek picked from the forest. There are no summer vegetables yet because it is a tenet of the local organic food movement that one must eat only what is season and squash does not grow in winter.

The chalkboard menu propped up outside their portable kitchen is left over from yesterday´s trial run. It lists ramp soup, tamworth paté, asparagus lemon and ricotta tart, creamy polenta and local pork chops, ricotta, and grass fed baby beef slider which they fed to friends over the weekend. Derek says, “We had the grills going the saute going everything at once it was a little hectic at first. All 20 people showed up and all 20 people ordered at the same time.”

Derek and Amanda make everything they serve including the sickles, bread, even the ketchup. Everything is locally sourced. “I am going to work with small farmers who maybe have 10 acres and two cows per year. A lot of these farms are trying to create their market. I am sure they would love to be able to sell fresh.”

Saying he is sort of a wholesaler himself because he buys from so many local producers Derek rattles off a list of their farm providers. They buy greens and vegetables from suppliers such as the Tuscarora Growers Coop. Organic eggs come from Ayshire farms where Derek worked for three years as executive chef. They make paté from tamworth hogs bought from Matt and Ruth Szechenyi at Briars Farmstead in Boyce, Virginia. Derek says, “They are really small doing 1 or 2 cows per year.” They buy grass fed beef pimarily from Angelic Beef in Remmington. Because local organic farms are so small Derek has to buy from different ones at different times when one has inventory and other does not.

The Local sixfortyseven entrepreneurial debut was at the George Mason farmers market on Earth Day. There they served grass fed beef, bratwurst sausage, cookies and fresh brewed tea from filtered virginia well water. Then they were off to the Winchester farmers market, Centerville, and back to Barrel Oak winery where they will be twice a month from 12 to 8. Their calendar is filled all the way to November.

To be “sustainable” a cook should grown his own food so Derek and Amanda are trying out that. Outside their house they have raised beds with rosemary, thyme, rows of garlic and onions in freshly turned soil. He used a Bobcat to rip the sod then backbreaking labor to dig it to 20 inches deep so the plants roots would thrive in the loose soil. He says, “When we started in mid October and it was just moss and rocks. Now you can stick your hand down to your elbow. My mom's boyfriend was a farmer out in Pennsylvania and he said double dig everything with your hands.” For compost he ordered a big truck load from the Fauquier Livestock exchange.

Outlining his vision Derek says, “If I can pull up to the farmers market I can buy everything I need straight from the farmer. We see ourselves as an integral part of the farmers market. You have consumers who don't really know what ramps are or what to do with dandelions--how to cook this or how to cook that. We see ourselves as an educational tool. If I can cook it in a tiny little kitchen you should be able to take it home to your house and roughly do the same thing. Essentialy in a nutshell that´s pretty much it.”

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Boutique Wineries in Chile

Ed Flaherty says in Chile a “boutique winery” means a winery whose owner is the winemaker and viticulturist and not an absentee landlord. He says boutique wineries in Chile really are small family-run operations and not the mega custom crush operations found in his native California.

Flaherty Wines

Having arrived in Chile 16 years ago, this son of an American agronomist sits behind the computer ordering wine barrels for future vintages as chief winemaker at the million case winery Tarapaca. This towering gringo longs to get his hands into the pomace and away from the keyboard having worked as chief winemaker at the mega wineries Errazuriz and VIA Wines. So on the weekends Ed Flaherty heads home to the Aconcagua Valley where he produces 25 barrels of red wine a portion of which when it is available includes tempranillo which he is planting at a new vineyard in Cauquenes near the Italian-owned Caliboro winery.

Ed fostered an interest in tempranillo having worked a harvest in Spain and having spent time in Argentina where are a consultant for the Zuccardi family he developed a tempranillo wine. Of Chile he says, “There is very little tempranillo planted in Chile, maybe10 hectares so no one really knows what the potential of the variety is or where it grows best in Chile”. Ed selected Cauquenes for his new plantings of tempranillo, syrah, and cabernet franc because this coastal mountain region has just enough annual rainfall to allow dry farming. The area is heavily planted with 100 year old head trained mission grapes, called “país” in the Spanish. Ed says, “the Red clay soils, rolling hills and moderate climate 40 kilometers from the coast have started to produce some really good red wines from carignan, carménère, syrah and a occasional cabernet sauvignon.”

UK Agent: Boutique Wines of Chile


For Chileans the name “Undurraga” is synonymous with those odd shaped wine bottles with the wide bottom. But that is history as the family has sold the label. In its place they have planted 35 hectares in the upper Colchagua Valley and joined the ranks of boutique winemakers in Chile. The father Alfonso and daughter Rebecca work in finance and administration while one of the sons, also named Alfonso, works both at the new winery and as commercial manager at Matetic. The other son Cristobal left his day job working at Aurelio Montes´s Kaiken winery in Argentina after having worked one vintage at Chateau Margaux, another in Napa Valley, and at the Rosemount Estate where he picked up English saying his French is pretty bad but improves with a glass or two of Bordeaux. Having quit working for others he has plunged headlong full-time into the new family venture working as enologist and viticulturist. Cristobal says he went to work in these overseas wineries to gain experience that he could apply to Undurraga. At the Rosemount Estate he says he learned to apply quality standards to really large quantities of wine. At Chateau Margaux he found winemaking with passion coupled with a constantly development of new techniques. He bundled those experiences into what he calls a “fusion” of old and new world styles and brought them back to his native Chile.

Koyle is located in a corner of the Colchagua Valley where grows a rare purple flower of the same name. The vineyard situated here at the foothills of the Andes is divided into three terraces. Syrah and carménère in the bottom terrace are planted on grafted rootstock to reduce their vigor. But cabernet sauvignon and other red grapes planted on less vigorous soils are planted on their own roots. The vines are so well balanced that they require hedging only once per year or not at all during the growing season.

UK Agent: Genesis


Polkura vineyard in the Colchagua Valley produces exclusively syrah on yellow granite soil whose name in the Mapuche language is “Polkura”. The partners here include Sven Bruchfeld who was chief winemaker at the giant Chilean winery Santa Carolina.

Having quit Santa Carolina last year to pursue his 2,000 case boutique winery full-time, Sven Bruchfeld is one of Ed Flaherty´s protogées from Errazuriz. This Chilean whose mother is from Norway planted the Polkura vineyard in 2002. The property is located in Marchigue between Santa Cruz and Pichilemu. Neighboring vineyards include Montes, Los Maquis and Bisquertt. Of the location Sven says, “It is sort of an area in between. It is not cool climate, but it is not warm climate either. So you get cool climate character on the nose but on the palette is it more warm climate--more full bodied and textured wine.”

Agent in UK: Direct Wines Ltd


Alvaro Espinoza and his wife farm Marina Ashton farm two vineyard red wine grapes in Maipo. In 1996 they planted Antiyal which is 1 hectare of carménère, cabernet sauvignon and syrah valley vineyard followed by Kuyen which is another hectare of syrah and cabernet sauvignon. Alvaro is considered by many in Chile to be the innovator of the boutique winery concept and Chile´s foremost biodynamic grape grower having planted the Emiliana Organic Vineyard and others. He is much in demand from his grape growing and winemaking clients so his wife Marina takes care of day-to-day operations of the family vineyard. Marina says, “We started Antiyal Winery, with the vision of making a family wine teaching our kids to make wine, have a nice time, and grow grapes organically in our own vineyard.” With accolades flowing in from the international press this small family business soon became a full-fledged winery producing 19,000 bottles per year leaving Marina with her hands full. She says, “In the year 2000, we stated selling and I started helping Alvaro, I had another job, but then we had more and more orders. Someone needed to take care of the day to day work.” The vineyard is readily identifiable as one of Alvaro´s biodynamic projects with flowers planted in the vineyard rows to attract beneficial insects and chickens scratching at the soil to get rid of the bad ones, mainly mites. Horse drawn plows cultivate the soil instead of tractor mounted equipment. The weather here in Maipo is for the most part rain free so there is no need to spray systemic nor manufactured chemicals. Because the vineyard is biodynamic the harvest and training of the vines is timed to the rhythm of the moon and stars. Compost replaces fertilizer.

UK Agent: Adnams


Facundo is not a winery but a label. These wines are produced by the husband and wife team of Felipe García, a winemaker from Casas del Bosque; and Constanza Schwaderer, whose day job is making wine at Córpora where her husband says she is in charge of all the top projects. Formerly, Felipe was a winemaker at Calina which is Kendall Jackson´s operation in Chile. He says working at Calina he learned to buy high quality grapes from such farm flung locales as the Limari Vallley. Of that experience he says, “For that reason the grapes that we choose for our project are really small growers with unique conditions.” Now he sources grapes for Facuno from Itata Valley to the South and Limari in the bone dry North.

Facundo does not have their own winery nor equipment so they use the facilities of the Tabonkö winery where works his former boss from Kendall Jackson. While acknowledging that it could be difficult for anyone to work too much time with one´s spouse, Felipe says his wife brings some French perspective to this Chilean operation. Felipe says his wife, who he calls “Cony”, worked side by side with French winemaker Pascal Marchard making pinot noir and chardonnay in he Burgundian fashion. Córpora have been a joint venture with the Boisset family of Burgundy then called “Veranda” but then Córpora bought out the French.

UK Agent: No agent in the UK

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Philip Carter Winery Fetes Virginia Wine History Event

September 5, 2009 Contact: Donna Johnson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Public Relations Director


Hume, VA - The celebration of Virginia Wine Month takes on mammoth proportions with the weight of just one event at Philip Carter Winery on October 17. This date is reserved for The History of Virginia Wine Dinner, an elegant evening in which guests are transported through the history of Virginia wine. The evening will include the unveiling of the historical document signed in 1763 by Royal Governor Francis Fauquier certifying the pioneering achievement of Charles Carter as the first person in America to successfully grow and produce quality wine from European vines. Carter’s wines, produced at Cleve Plantation, Virginia, were received by the Royal Society of the Arts, UK, in 1762 and awarded an international gold medal in recognition of Carter’s spirited attempt at making fine wine. These were the first internationally recognized fine wines in America.

Author Walker Elliot Rowe will speak at the dinner about his new book, A History of Virginia Wine: From Grapes to Glass, noting the section specific to the Carter family’s 250-year history with wine production in Virginia. The evening will also include the unveiling of an original oil painting of Crooked Run Valley (both historic and an upland bird area) by graphic designer Allan Guy, a landscape now a featured part of the Governor Fauquier labeling. Released for this particular event, this exceptional white wine honors the historic connection between Fauquier County’s namesake, where Philip Carter Winery is located, and the Governor’s 1763 certification of Carter’s achievements in wine production.

A portion of the proceeds of this signature night will be donated to Ducks Unlimited, the nation’s largest conservation organization. Each attendee will be provided with a Ducks Unlimited membership and an autographed copy of Mr. Rowe’s book. Carefully choreographed and executed by A La Carte, the four-course meal will include traditional Virginia dishes, pairing perfectly with Virginia produced wines. A host of luminaries will be present for this very special event.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

The soils of Calyptra

In the flat vineyards of Chile growers who do not use drip irrigation simply flood their vineyard from one end to the other. As the gentle giant winemaker François Massoc at Calyptra explains in English, “Water has owner”. This 35 hectare vineyard and 100,000 liter winery might lie along both sides of the Cachapoal river, but in the arid desert farming which is Chilean agriculture one cannot simply siphon off the water just because it is within arms reach.

Most of Chile´s vineyards are located in the flat plains in the valleys. But Calyptra is 1,000 meters up in the Andes, a twisting and turning 45 minute drive beyond the city of Rancagua just beyond the entrance to one of Chile´s nationalized copper mines. Here in winter--unlike in most of the country--it actually snows as photos provide by François attest. Most Chileans are accustomed to looking up at the snow of the Andes from, say, Santiago but here at Calyptra you can walk in it. Beyond copper and snow it is an accident of geography that the vineyard here surrounds the famous Cauquenes hot springs on two sides. A resort is build over the top of the hot springs there that well up into a cavernous somewhat humid and dripping Roman-bath-style building. Above the hotel is an aqueduct built high into the hillside traversing deep canyons in open air as it ferries precious irrigation water from one side of the mountains to thirsty farms and vineyards in the other direction.

François came to the 20 year old Calytra five years ago having studied winemaking in Burgundy. For Burgundians by traditionthe most important part of making wine has little to do with the winemaker are more to do with the vineyard soils and location. This notion is etched into law by the French system of appellation d'origine contrôlée .

So it is with François and his outlook. This former barrel maker who was Chilean manager of the French cooperage Nadalie and still makes his own barrells says, “I am ashamed to say I am an enologist. I don´t think the winemaker is important.” He says the best wines in the world are made in the vineyard the machinations of man not withstanding. After school he tempered his enthusiasm for manipulations and all things French with a tendency to remontage, pigeages, and otherwise orchestrate the gushing red juice into the barrel and bottle. “I try not to put my signature on the wine. I try to respect the fruit. Here you don't need an intervention. I prefer to make an honest product. The great wines in the world are like that. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and it's neighbor La Romanée, that I know very well and I have tasted. They are wonderful, but very different. Because they are honest winse. That is one part of the French philosopy that I want to keep is honesty."

The vineyards here of pinot noir, chardonnay, cabernet, syrah, merlot, and sauvignon blanc are delimited by soil type which François has carefully measured and mapped. Each plot is fermented separately, measured, and blended together again according to the taste of the winemaker which he says varies by soil. In melodious that is self taught François says what is important is soil drainage which in turn turn depends on the percentage of rocks in the soil, their make up, and using the French word he says “argile” meaning clay.

François repeats some of the sometimes amusing observations which are prevalent throughout Chilean vineyards. In the winery grapes are sorted along a vibrating table staffed with women because their dainty little fingers are more nimble than those of men. The women can snatch up unripe or rotten grapes and toss them to the side for quickly than men. Asked about this François says, “Of course it is true.” In Chile such sentiments might be labeled “machista” (chauvinist). But in the USA such this type of thinking can get you into trouble with the feministas and their government mandated oversight.

The wine tanks here are insulated with cooling jackets so there is a temperature gauge on each none of which are to be trusted. Yes says François that presumption is true too.

In traditional Burgundy men plunge nude into the tank or open top fermenter punching down grapes (pigeages) so they don´t dry out as the gases of fermentation cause them to rise. François keep his cloths on doing when he does this using his feet to push the fermenting grapes back down into the juice taking care not to crush any seeds. He says, “I learned that in Burgundy. As there is a lot of carbon dioxide its really dangerous for my workers. As I am the tallest it is safer for me.”

We take a tour of the vineyards on this day late in the harvest season in June driving down a winding mountain road. The last of the harvest has just been completed and end-of-season rains have caused the mountainside to come tumbling down in a mudslide that nearly took a truck heavily laden with fruit over the side. The driver had just driven past just before the hillside gave way.

Because the weather is ideal for grape farming in Chile, there is not much use of agricultural spray to combat the rots and fungus as is done in the rainy parts of Europe. At Calyptra only sulfur is applied. They spray it every two weeks to keep botrytis and powdery mildew off the leaves and fruit.

François has changed much since coming to the farm. Part of the vineyard was overly vigorous producing too much fruit that had to be dropped off by hand in what is called a “green harvest”. So François changed the training of those vines from spur to guyot. The vines here are otherwise well balanced only requiring hedging one time per year where as in more vigorous sites in Chile it can be up to 4 times . One plot runs north to south instead of east to west. François says that alignment with the sun produces 1 gram less of acid in the final fruit. So he sells that fruit to other wineries keeping the best for himself.

Regarding acid he says Chilean white grapes measure up fine but that all of the red grapes in Chile need to have acid added by the winemaker. This is because in the long California-like growing season the fruit hangs in unending sunshine their the sugar level increasing while the pH falls off as does the level of tartaric and malic acid (low pH means high acidity) as the optimal part of this curve is reached and surpassed. This is generally not the case is regions with more rain and cloudy weather like say Virginia or New York.

François did his thesis at the university in preserving color in pinot noir wines. But here as in most of Chile the greatest portion of the red wine production is cabernet sauvignon while he does produce some pinot noir. So François gives a barrel tasting of 4 different cabernet sauvignon wines produced from different plots to show the differences owing to the differing soil

Starting with plot number 23 François asks with boyish humor from whence came the name then supplies the answer, ”It is called 23 because it is located between plots 22 and 24”. Laughing at his answer he says the vines here had been a tangle of fruit which the owner had not bothered even to prune and wanted to abandon. François dug deep pits to inspect the subsoil and mapped the property by the electrical conductivity of the soil. He then told the owner it would produce fine wine in this plot saying he would pay the costs of production and harvest himself if he was wrong on this point. François says the soil in plot 23 are older alluvial soils--which are those round stones worn down by the river and glacial erosion--coming from the last glacial period of which there have been four.

The wines from plots 24a and 24b are big tannic wines somewhat similar, but plot number 8 produces wine that is less gripping. François says these are colluvial rocks which are the big rocks that crack off and fall from the mountain. He says, “This is the youngest soil of them all. It has the most complexity and is the most feminine of the wines of the four. It is a welcoming wine. It has nice length.”

All of this discussion of soil makes sense to the farmer. I have a vineyard and farm in Virginia. The first vines I planted by hand before I had money to buy a tractor to drive the wooden trellis posts. It was back breaking labor because the topsoil was shallow clay on top of hardpan subsoil. Another richer farmer might have hooked up a subsoiler to crack the subsoil where roots could penetrate. Instead the roots in my vineyard grow outward in all directions interlacing themselves with neighboring vines unable to grow deep. This is not bad as the fertilizer the farm applies to the soil leeches only a few inches into the group. But grape vines roots explore going deep were they can reaching a depth of as much as 40 feet in places like Burgundy. As the roots go deep they dislodge minerals in the soil bringing them up to the surface and into the fruit and foilage. In short this is why soils matter.

Putting the last bung into the barrel François relates a French dictum that “One must respect the barrel”. In other words as you taste wine you can spit out what you don´t drink but not pour it out on the floor. You have to respect the barrel by returning the wine inside. In Spanish “Tienes que respectar la barrica” .

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bari California Olive Oil and Wiebe Farms

Gordon Wiebe and his brother-in-law Richard Sawatzky farm olives, nectarines, plums and peaches in the San Joaquin Valley 30 miles west of the Sequoia National Forest. These orchards were first here in 1956 by Gordon´s father. The land is so flat that special laser guided machines are used to grade the slope to 1 degree so that irrigation can flow to all corners of the individual farms that Gordon calls “ranches”. The ranches here are delimited by dusty rural roads that have the oddly urban sound name of “avenue” even though nothing looking like a city is anywhere nearby. Seemingly more latinos than gringos live here and even the local English language newspaper has classified ads in Spanish that read “se vende pollos” (Chickens for sale).

The great majority of America´s fruit and vegetables come from this region of California and even Gordon marvels at this size. Just the weekend before he flew his airplane for three hours across the valley, over the mountains, and out to the ocean saying he did not overfly even one city. Fruit farms growing pomegranates, peaches, almonds, every conceivable fruit are interlaced with dairy operators and mile after mile of high alfalfa forage and of course corn.

Gordon is a Mennonite farmer who says he started planting olives in his fruit orchards a few years ago when most of the migrant workers here turned to construction and labor became scarce. Olives can be harvested by machine so it requires less workers than peaches, plums, and nectarines which are harvested by hand. But when the construction business collapsed the migrant workers hung up their hammers and saws and returned to his 600 acre ranch. He says, “Today there are 200 people working today on 600 acre of peaches and if all of that was olives you could do it with 20 people.”

The olives grown here are not destined for fruit although that is what The University of California is trying to promote with their local extension office. These olives will be pressed into oil and sold under Bari Olive Oil Company’s own label “BARI® ”. Inside the processing facility is a tasting room and gift shop with oils from different types of olive trees. This fall a brand new olive oil mill will be installed to process their olives. The extra virgin olive oils are quite good with different hues of color and tastes that vary from mild buttery to intense fruity and pungent flavors. These are from oil that Bari Olive Oil Company purchased from other growers. Their own fruit must wait until this year because their three year old trees have just come into production.

Here in the Central Valley orchards are ripped out and replaced from one year to the next as market conditions change. It takes three years at a minimum to produce fruit from trees which is the same for grape vines. Of course corn and alfalfa can be rotated in and out of a field in the same season. But here you see piles of bulldozed orchards stacked up like ghosts along the landscape as one grower's decision to plant, say, pomegranates is replaced by another, say, who decided to grow olives. These former orchards without the irrigation which keeps them alive quickly revert back to desert so flat, hard, and dusty that you can drive off the road there without so much as jostling you car.

Olive trees that line the streets of certain cities like Phoenix are too big to be harvested by machine but here at Bari Olive Oil Company Gordon and Richard have planted hybrids that are bred to grow short like bushes. Plus they are pruned. That way a harvesting machine can straddle the plant and shake it vigorously tossing the fruit into a hopper. This way one or two men can do the work that otherwise would require many times that. Gordon points out that olives used to be more widely planted in California in areas like the hills around San Diego and the olive district of Fresno. Now all of that turned into cities. He is trying to lure local producers to the area predicting that the politically-correct and healthy olive oil consumption may drive the California production and market ahead of the Italians in a dozen years or so.

The temperature here in this bone dry region is 105 during the day and there is no rain during the growing season. This is good for the raisin farmers who drop their Thompson seedless vinifera grapes straight onto the ground where they dry in place outdoors.

Irrigation is what makes farming possible in this bone dry desert. Every citizen who lives in this water district is taxed to pay for the system of canals and ditches and the men who monitor the water usage by the farms and keep the system working. But the supply has been cut as the reservoir is running low owing to the continuing California drought and increased demand from the cities. Gordon says the ditches will provide him water only 60 days this year. “We have to rotate with the neighbors. There's a guy that watches it and regulates it. There are no meters they can measure flows. Its more how much is allotted from the dam for irrigation in this area. The other system [we have] is ground water. We are irrigating first irrigation in April and [the last] in September. We have to irrigate every 10 to 14 days. We get the water allotment through the canal system but we need water for 6 or 7 months. If we don't irrigate in 2 weeks we are dead. The San Joaquin valley is really a desert. We get 12 or 14 inches of rain per year. We just need a few more dams to store it.” But he adds that the city people would be against that.

A few miles down the road from the olive processing facility 50 to 60 Mexican workers are working in the Wiebe Farm's packing house processing peaches for delivery to a cold storage facility where they will be drawn from inventory and shipped to Costco and Walmart and others. As part of a local group of farmers marketing their fruit together , Wiebe Farms’ fruit is sold under the Summeripe® label. A camera inspects fruit as it zips along the processing line separating the peaches by quality. Different colored paper stickers are applied denoting the market for which it is intended. Some fruit is shipped to the stores right away while other will be kept in high humidity and warm temperatures to soften them up a bit. Fruit that has begun to splits open is discarded and allowed to drop through the processing line where it will be returned to the field as compost, sold to make juice if a buyer can be found in that crowded market, fed to dairy cattle, spread along the avenues here to keep dust down on the farm, or given to Gleanings For The Hungry, where the fruit is dried and sent to hungry people throughout the world.

Gordon says the average person has no idea where their food comes from. He says driving around here the tourist or city dweller cannot see much. “A lot of activity goes on in the fields and most people don't see and recognize it. They think these are all quiet farms.” Farming is hardly profitable. He says, ““Farming has not been lucrative over the past 15 or 20 years." For growers he says they get $10 to$11 per box but need $13 to make a profit. Gordon says were it not for his packing shed--which allows him to cut out one layer in the business model--he would be losing even more money. Now he says he is just getting by. He says, “5 or 6 more packing houses will may go out of business this year. “ Gordon grows alfalfa and corn to sell to dairy farmers where it is too expensive to replant trees. “Last couple of years we have been thinking how can you lose less money. But I still love farming!”

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