California Heartland Episode 914 Transcript

California Heartland is made possible by The James G. Boswell Foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers. Bank of America, bank of opportunity. Funding provided in part by, The California Farm Bureau Federation, proud publishers of “California Country” magazine. More information is available at www.californiacountry.org . And, by the Almond Board of California; California Almonds, loved around the world, grown in California’s Heartland.

Coming up on California Heartland…

Farming in the city you always have to be prepared to move.  There’s development and encroaching going on all around you.

Urban farmers are feeling the squeeze, see what this southern California family is doing to keep this land from falling to developers and how school kids are helping to keep them alive. 

And…

California Heartland digs deep to uncover the Forestiere Gardens, see why one man took his fruit trees and his life underground to escape the Fresno heat.

Plus…

There’s no reason why backyard gardens shouldn’t be using drip irrigation. It’s great for trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables, but where do you begin?

Tips on keeping drip irrigation from becoming drip irritation.  

Chris Burrous: From your backyard, to the back country, in a field, or on your family table, it’s all about what keeps California moving and growing, this is California Heartland.

Kenny Tanaka: Farming's tough, it's 7 days a week, long hours, I probably don't work half as many hours as they did, but it’s surprising how many challenges there are and they continue to stay in the farming business after all these years. 

Jennifer Quinonez: Kenny Tanaka may take over the family farm one day.  It seems natural, as it’s been a Tanaka family tradition to farm in Orange County for the last 60 years.  But today this future farmer has concerns –you see, the last 25 acres they’re farming on now, could easily be taken away from his father Glenn

Glenn Tanaka: Farming in the city, you always have to be prepared to move, there’s development, encroachment, going on all around you.

Jennifer Quinonez: In 1998, development forced the Tanakas off the leased land they’d been farming on for 20 years. 

Jennifer Quinonez: What many people may not realize is that you are on this land year to year, it's leased land, that must put an enormous amount of pressure for you and your family to work. 

Glenn Tanaka: Very much so, in the past when it was whole sale we used to have 23 ranches, if you lost one ranch, you had time to find another ranch, now this is my last piece of property that we're on.

Jennifer Quinonez: Their customer base isn’t a wholesale client anymore. Now it’s kids, hundreds of them.

Kenny Tanaka: I’m a 4th generation Japanese American.  And my father who owns the farm is a 3rd generation, he’s a 3rd generation farmer.

Jennifer Quinonez: They are farmers yes, but more specifically; Glenn, his wife Shirley and Kenny now call themselves agri-tainers. They’ve combined Glenn’s love of farming, with entertainment and now give farm tours to families and school kids.

Kenny Tanaka: This is a cucumber but it’s a different type, it’s a brown cucumber.

Kenny Tanaka: And when they get to come out here, the parents actually see the kids eat the fruits and vegetables, eat carrots, celery, it’s a good experience for them to learn where their food comes from.    

Jennifer Quinonez: By teaching the public about farming and letting them try their organic produce, the end result so far has been a favorable business move. A survival tactic to keep this farm going after many years of challenges and profit loss.

Glenn Tanaka: Through the hardships I’ve had through farming, I would hope that I would have some business sense to adapt to my needs and it took us here, it took us to being an open door classroom basically.

Jennifer Quinonez: Going into the world of educational farming was a big risk at first, but it’s finally paying off financially and emotionally.

Glenn Tanaka: Now the pressure is not just a selfish pressure for survival but we do a lot of good and we do a lot of education so there’s more pressure to stay here and be where we’re at not just economically but I really think we’re doing lot of good here in the community.

Jennifer Quinonez: Over the last two years, the Tanaka’s have been able to bring in 15 thousand kids during periods like strawberry or pumpkin season.

Jessica Vallejo: Tanaka Farms gives the kids a chance to taste veggies that wouldn’t normally taste and I think they think it’s a novelty because they can pick it off the ground and eat it because it’s an organic farm.

 

Kenny Tanaka: So anything that has seeds in it starts as a flower and is considered a fruit.

Glenn Tanaka: From when I started farming, when I was 20, I just had visions of being a 300-acre strawberry tomato grower, shipping produce all across the country, and now I’m doing something completely different.

Jennifer Quinonez: Kenny says he’s thrilled that the family farm business has gone in this direction… because it’s a good way to ensure that he’ll stay farming in the future.

Kenny Tanaka: I could have majored in agriculture, but majored in business so I could have something to fall back on.

Jennifer Quinonez: But they say they do the best they can and keep rolling with the challenges that farming brings, the reason? Well, like many California farmers, it’s the desire to keep their family tradition alive.

Shirley Tanaka: We’ve had lots of ups and downs and struggles and throughout the years and finally it’s paying off and it’s been rewarding but hard work.

Jennifer Quinonez: In the end the Tanakas believe this land they’ve continued to care for, will continue to take care of them…right down to their very last acre.

Glenn Tanaka: Even as a farmer, you feel we’re feeding the country and now we educating the county and that’s probably more fulfilling than farming.

Jacqueline Patterson: Hi my name is Jacqueline Patterson and welcome to my California Heartland.  The hardest part of taking care of rabbits is that they’re kind of temperamental.  No! No!  You have to be sure to be able to hold them, be able to handle them and make sure they stay social.  These two are show rabbits.  My favorite part is playing with them and taking them out, watching them from when they’re little.  And being around them.  You should take them out a least once a week other wise they get really fat and lazy.  They’ll chew on pretty much anything so it’s good to keep things inside they’re cage to chew on, so they don’t bring anything from the outside.  Don’t leave stuff outside they’re cage, they’ll eat it.  This is a wonderful thing to be able to take care of rabbits, it teaches you responsibility and how to take care of something else, instead of just yourself.  I would recommend it for anybody because it’s really fun.  Thank you for coming to my California Heartland.

Chris Burrous: California’s annual cheese business is 2 billion pounds strong.  Cheese production here has doubled in the last decade and there’s nothing cheesy about California’s dairy business.  It’s one of the states leading agricultural forces.  Laura McIntosh is bringing it home from the crops to the kitchen.

Laura McIntosh: Well here we are the Marin French Cheese Company, Jim tell me what you think the number one thing about making cheese is.

Jim Boyce: Well you know, certainly it starts with great milk.

Laura McIntosh: Great milk!

Jim Boyce: And the cultures, the flavored cultures of the brie, the camembert of the bleu- we bring those in from Europe.  As the curd develops it has that flavored culture.  Then we take it into our aging cellar and we put together the cultures from our cage. 

Laura McIntosh: So the big question is why do you keep this alive?  Why do you keep this 143-year-old cheese factory alive?

Jim Boyce: We’ve been making food slow before it was made fast.  That slow tradition of journeyman apprentice, that character, that flavor, the craft of making food- that’s where we keep it alive, the rest is history.

Laura McIntosh: The rest is history.  And great history, over 143 years, let’s go taste the milk.  Thank you Jim. 

Laura McIntosh: Well thanks for joining us back everyone, small plates today.  That’s what we’re going to prepare for you.  We’ve already started so let’s talk about the recipe and what we’ve done so far.

Darren McRonald: So we’re going to make gougeres, which is a puff pastry studded with Gruyere cheese.  We’ve already got the pan started, cup of water, 3 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt.  We want to bring that to a simmer as soon as the butter melts.

Laura McIntosh: What are we making here?  What would you call this?

Darren McRonald: This would basically be called a Choux paste.

Laura McIntosh: Ok (laughs)

Darren McRonald: Choux, but the French word for Choux.  C-H-O-U-X, not…

Laura McIntosh: Not S-H-O-E, ok.  I hear it going a little bit.

Darren McRonald: So, it’s starting to simmer.  So we want it to come together as one mass, but we want to keep beating it so it comes away from the sides of the pot and forms a nice glossy ball. 

Laura McIntosh: I think a lot of people are a little intimated, but look how easy it is.  Oh wow, that, it came together really fast.  Yeah, good, ok.

Darren McRonald: So we can take it off the heat now.

Laura McIntosh: Right.

Darren McRonald: Laura, you want to come stir this for us.

Laura McIntosh: Now, I’ve got…is it suppose to form one big ball? 

Darren McRonald: Yeah, and it’s going to get fun when I start adding these. 

Laura McIntosh: Okay. 

Darren McRonald: But you can’t over add the eggs too quickly.  So, we want to add them one at a time and work them in.

Laura McIntosh: Oh yeah, that was a lot better.  Ok, excellent.

 

Laura McIntosh: And one at a time for several reasons, but one I would assume because you’re adding eggs to heat.

Darren McRonald Well and also it’s a lot easier to incorporate it into the flour paste.

Laura McIntosh: Right, and as you can see…

Darren McRonald It’s all coming apart, if you added them all at once it’d be a big mess.  It’d be so hard for it to come together.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.  It’s actually not that bad.

Darren McRonald: Well, you’ve got a ways to go actually. 

Laura McIntosh: Oh, thanks.

Darren McRonald: You want me to do it.

Laura McIntosh: Yeah, go ahead.

Laura McIntosh: But the butter and the water only took a very few minutes.  And then adding that flour created that nice firm ball that you saw.  And then adding the eggs and so we want no lumps basically.

Darren McRonald: Sure. 

Laura McIntosh: Right, okay.  So this looks like a nice consistency. 

Darren McRonald: It’s about there.  So now we can add our Gruyere cheese that we have.  You can either grate it up or cut it up into little dice.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.  

Darren McRonald: Add just add that.

Laura McIntosh: And this is Gruyere?

Darren McRonald: Mmm hmm.

Laura McIntosh: Okay good, and just keep mixing? 

Darren McRonald: Just mix that in.

Laura McIntosh: You can see the chunks of cheese in there. 

Darren McRonald: And we’ll just add a little crack of pepper.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.  This is very easy.

Darren McRonald: It’s not so bad.  So we’ll just take two spoons, and you can use a pastry bag or just take the spoons.  This we’re just going to spoon out like a drop cookie.

Laura McIntosh: Yes ok good!

Darren McRonald: Because it’s going to look very irregular looking, which is fine.

Laura McIntosh: And you’re doing 3 across, so as far as it cooking…

Darren McRonald: About an inch apart.

Darren McRonald: That’ll go into a 400 degree oven, for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  You should definitely take one out; try one about 20 minutes in.  

Laura McIntosh: Ok.

Darren McRonald: Pop it open.  If the exterior is a little crispy and the interior is still nice and moist, then they’re done.

Laura McIntosh: Ok, great.

Darren McRonald: So, you don’t want to overcook them until a point to where they’re dry throughout.  And these will go in the oven.

Laura McIntosh: But we have some already done and we’re going to show you what they look like.

Darren McRonald: Here we go.

Laura McIntosh: Perfect.  Look at that.

Laura McIntosh: So and then…

Laura McIntosh: We have a few more steps.

Darren McRonald: A few more steps, we have some bacon that we’ve crisped up and we have a little arugula.

Laura McIntosh: Alright.

Darren McRonald: We’re going to dress the arugula very simply just in a little lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.  We take these, the puffs and split them open.  You can use a knife, you can use your finger.  We’re going to take some arugula, stuff it with a little arugula and a little bit of crispy bacon.  And crumble it up in there.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, nice pancetta substitute?

Darren McRonald: Pancetta would be fine.

Laura McIntosh: Ok, great so this would be perfect.  You can just set them out on individual dishes or serve them family style on a big tray.  This looks fantastic. 

George Cecchetti: So, okay let’s hustle out there, let’s take infield and outfield, everyone out to your positions, you know the routine, let’s go. 
Chris Burrous: Like many fathers, George Cecchetti enjoys coaching his son’s baseball team.  But for George, baseball isn’t just a hobby, it’s his former profession. 
George Cecchetti: I played in the Indians organization for just short of 10 years. 
Chris Burrous: George played several years in triple A, 2 years in the majors as an outfielder first baseman and although he didn’t fulfill his dream of becoming a hall-of-famer, he had a great time while it lasted. 
George Cecchetti: As a ball player I had nothing left to give, when I got done playing I was injured, you know, I was beat up, I was on bad legs and, had nothing else left to give. 
Chris Burrous: But he does have something to give as a coach.  Besides sharing his experience and love for the game, he’s also able to spend quality time with his son, George Jr. And time is at a premium in this busy household, that’s because a few years ago, George and his fiancé Karen started their own company, by chance.
Karen Chandler: When we bought this property, I was actually walking down the driveway and I looked up above and said, okay lord, how can this place help pay for itself because it’s a pretty big place and I looked down and all the olives were hitting the ground and I thought, gosh you know what? Ok I get it, I came back in the house and go, you know George we’re going to make olive oil next year.  And George said, are you nuts?! Ha Ha Ha Ha.
Chris Burrous: These massive hundred year old olive trees lining the driveway were Karen’s inspiration. 
George Cecchetti: I didn’t know a thing about olives, not a thing.
Chris Burrous: But that didn’t stop them, they began researching olive oil and found a nearby Modesto family who’s been farming olives for more than 70 years.
George Cecchetti: And so I jumped in their hip pocket and said teach me everything you know. 
Chris Burrous: Their first harvest was small, but the Cecchetti extra virgin olive oil that resulted from it, was a huge hit. 
George Cecchetti: It just evolved, I think Karen went out there and pushed it and we got such a positive response from the people.
Chris Burrous: George began planting seedling trees on his property, but because they take 3 years to produce, he had to look elsewhere for more olives. 
George Cecchetti: We actually went out there and started finding people who had trees, so we farmed those and got them into a contract with us, just a handshake contract we don’t have anything in writing we just do business in good faith which I sure enjoy. 
Chris Burrous: Although, they have hundreds of trees now, Karen, George and George Jr. do all of the work. 
George Cecchetti: Yeah, it’s all done by hand.  We pick so late because I’m going for a certain style, a certain flavor.
Karen Chandler: We don’t pick early, you know, before the olives are ripe, we pick when they are ripe.  We wait until they’re pitch black on the outside and real dark purple on the inside. 
Chris Burrous: Once the olives are picked, they’re then rushed to a nearby processing plant.
George Cecchetti: We’ve made it as quickly as 96 minutes from the time from picking to getting it pressed.  Within 24 hours is our ultimate goal. 
Chris Burrous: The oil is stored until it’s time for the bottles to be labeled and deliveries to be made.  Several stores throughout Sacramento and the Bay Area carry Cecchetti Olive Oil, but local businesses have been especially receptive.
George Cecchetti: I think there are probably 15 or 18 businesses here in Lodi that carries our product, and they’re just great folks, they’re very supportive of us.
Chris Burrous: Like this winery, where Karen is unveiling Cecchetti’s newest product, Splash of Orange Olive Oil. 
Karen Chandler: Here you go.
Karen Chandler: Well it’s just fun, it promotes the product for whoever is carrying our product. 
Chris Burrous: So while Karen is selling the oil, George is tending the trees.
George Cecchetti: You know I enjoy this everyday.
Chris Burrous: From fielder to farmer.
George Cecchetti: We are busy, you know it’s just a different kind of busy; I’m kind of walking to the beat of my own drum which I enjoy.

Chris Burrous: Pack your bags and grab your boots.  It’s time to hit the road with the Ag Traveler.

Melanie Kim: Fresno—it’s known as “the fruit bowl” and is the heart of California’s central valley…. and it’s a city that’s know for triple digit temperatures.

Melanie Kim: If you’re looking for something cool to do in Fresno? We’ve got to go underground. Literally.

Lyn Forestiere Kosewski: You feel that change in the temperature already? Is that nice?

Melanie Kim: Step down into a subterranean world…. and you’ll find this, Forstiere Underground Gardens.

Melanie Kim: It’s a 2-bedroom home complete with kitchen and a bath, garden courtyards with fruit barring trees and vines.  All interconnected, all underground and all the handiwork of one man….Baldassare Forestiere.

Melanie Kim: It all started in 1906 when the young Sicilian immigrant came to Fresno to farm citrus, and decided to build an underground cellar to escape the heat.  He created a Mediterranean atmosphere in this desert land, that's what's amazing.

Melanie Kim: One room led to another and another and eventually led to the creation of this 10 acre complex of rooms and passageways patterned after roman catacombs.

Lyn Forestiere Kosewski: He was kinda building this underground resort where people could come and get out of the heat because they didn't have shopping malls and movie theaters and air conditioning in their homes, they had no place to escape.

Melanie Kim: Lyn Forestiere Kosewski is Baldassare’s great niece and she’s the one who will give you a tour when you visit the gardens.

Melanie Kim: She’ll show you how all of this was created by using farming tools.

Ric Forestiere: This was his home. This was his hobby his hobby and his life work.

Melanie Kim: Lyn’s Father Ric Forestiere, owner of the underground gardens, shares stories of his uncle, a self taught horticulturalist, architect and builder.

Melanie Kim: Baldassare’s plan to build a citrus empire didn’t work, but he never gave up.

Lyn Forestiere Kosewski: Just because something doesn't turn out the way we thought it would or wanted it to it's not the end it's not a disaster, he basically if I may take that phrase took a lemon and made lemonade from it.

Melanie Kim: More like took lemons and planted them underground!

Melanie Kim: This is what the garden looks like when the treetops are at ground level.  Some of the plants are buried 22 feet underground.

Lyn Forestiere Kosewski: We have a lot of citrus because that was his background. We have here a grapefruit tree, a lemon tree and kumquat over here. This magnificent 90 year old grape vine is still producing grapes I believe the variety is black morocco.  Pomegranates are just bountiful here

Melanie Kim: The Forestiere family actively maintains and restores the labor of love of their ancestor with visitors who take the 45 minute tour.

 

Lyn Forestiere Kosewski: At some point in Baldassare's life it turned from a survival mode to art and then the earth became his canvas.

Melanie Kim: Just blocks away from highway 99…

Melanie Kim: As Staci Ludwig found out, you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to see it, even if you have to dig deep.

Melanie Kim: Are you one of those people just drove by here and then one day went kinda like...

Staci Ludwig: Someone told me there's an underground garden right over there and I’m like where?
They're underground so we didn't know.

Lyn Forestiere Kosewski: It became his legacy and it is now known through out the world so that is pretty amazing I think.

Chris Burrous: Everyone’s a farmer when it comes to their own backyard, try these tips for doin’ it Home Grown.

Fred Hoffman: As you might of noticed, there’s less water for all of Californians and the water that is available is a lot more expensive.  For farmers, they’re helping the cause by switching out more and more of their crops to drip irrigation and there’s no reason why backyard gardeners shouldn’t be using drip irrigation.  It’s great for trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables, but where do you begin?

Fred Hoffman: Here we are in one of the most popular aisles of any nursery or hardware store, especially on weekends- the drip irrigation aisle!  This is where frustrated gardeners come and stare at the wall of emitters and filters and connectors…and for a lot of these gardeners it has become drip irritation.  Well if you’re starting off in the world of drip irrigation, one of the best things you can do is buy a starter kit, because it contains every part you need to get started.  But once you’re done with this, you’re going to be back dealing with this.

Fred Hoffman: Not all drip tubing is interchangeable, different manufacturers have different specifications, especially for their half-inch tubing.  That’s why paying attention to the color of the parts is very important.  Always shop at the same store where you bought your original drip irrigation system, they’re sure to have the parts.

Fred Hoffman: Here are the basics you need to hook up a drip irrigation system to an outdoor faucet.  Start with a timer that way you can go on vacation and your plants still get watered, then an anti-siphon valve to protect your water supply indoors.  Adding a filter is a great idea to keep impurities out of your drip line, you can add fertilizer to this as well, and then you need a pressure regulator to make sure you don’t blow out all those little drip heads.  And finally you want to put on a hose end tubing adapter, make sure it’s a hose end adapter not a pipe adapter because you’re working with an outdoor faucet.  And then you’re going to hook your tube up in here and add emitters.  Well, what kind of emitters should you be adding?  Well, lets look at a few and see how they work.

Fred Hoffman: Emitters, sprayers, sprinklers- what’s the best drip irrigation system for you?  Let’s start with the basics, drip emitters.  They come in half gallon, which has a red backing, one gallon per hour emitters, which have a black backing and two gallon an hour emitters, which are green.  Also you can get a quarter inch soaker hose kind of system.  There are half gallon an hour emitters spaced about 12 inches apart, perfect for container plants.  These are called in line emitters, you can’t see the emitters but they’re built in.  They’re hassle free, you can’t cut them off with a weed whacker, they put out one gallon of water, they’re spaced about 12 inches apart- great for rows of trees and shrubs.  If you have a tropical garden, some ferns you’d like to keep cool, raise the humidity- there are mister-spraying heads like this, they put out about 8 gallons of water per hour.  For ground covers, it’s hard to beat bubbler heads.  Bubbler heads also put out 8-12 gallons of water per hour and you can space those about 24 inches apart.  These are little inexpensive spray heads, they come in a variety of patterns, and you can go from 360 degrees down to 45 degrees.  You can also get them mounted on supports, which is great if you’re trying to shoot over small shrubs.   And finally you’ve got the mini-sprinklers, and mini-sprinklers are wonderful for covering much bigger areas. 

Fred Hoffman: One final tip wherever you buy your drip system, they’re going to have these booklets available, they’re free and explains drip irrigation in great detail.  Drip irrigation, you’re going to save water and you’re going to save money which save you bucks to spend it on the more important things in life.

Chris Burrous: That’s California Heartland, for more information on any of these stories go to Californiaheartland.org I’m Chris Burrous see you next time.

To order a copy of this show, visit us online or call 1-888-814-3923 the cost is $14.95 plus shipping

California Heartland is made possible by The James G. Boswell Foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers.  Bank of America, bank of opportunity.  Funding provided in part by, The California Farm Bureau Federation, proud publishers of “California Country” magazine.  More information is available at www.californiacountry.org .  And, by the Almond Board of California; California Almonds, loved around the world, grown in California’s Heartland.