South of Paskenta, there's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on in the Central
Valley town of Madera. That's where a man born and raised in India is
realizing his American dream. Robin Thandi moved to California from India
in 1987. Says Robin, "I've always liked farming. Ever since I was
a child growing up on the farm."
Today, he's growing almonds the organic way, using environmentally friendly
practices. "The main thing is we started conserving water. This used
to be a flooded irrigated orchard. It used to use a lot of water, a lot
of wastage and last year we converted it to a microjet irrigation system
where there's a little sprinkler right next to every single tree. Targeted
toward the tree itself. You use 40 to 60 percent of the water. And I've
agreed not to burn anything. There's a no-burn policy."
Says Robin, "We also chip and shred every pruning in the orchard
and we also sand the periphery to make sure there's no dust. That's a
form of dust control and again we have created permanent sod on the ground
to control dust and also to create a natural habitat for beneficial insects."
Robin's enthusiasm for the natural way of doing things has impressed
his neighbors! So much so that at least two nearby farms are making the
transition from traditional farming to organic. And what about Robin's
kids? Will they follow in dad's footsteps? "I know my daughter doesn't
look very interested in it but my son has an interest in it. He might
pursue it. We'll have to see," said Robin.