Friends, it happened. On May 22, John and I will be moving onto 130-acres of magical land freshly renamed Apricot Lane Farms in Moorpark, CA. A small, welcoming town that sits 50-minutes north of Los Angeles, CA, 25-minutes east of the beaches of Ventura and just over the hill from Burbank, where the major television studios sit in all their powerful glory. The farm contains 80-acres of orchard, currently lemon and avocados, plus 40-acres of horse pasture, which will be converted to raise heritage breed lamb, chickens and pigs. I stand in awe of the events that have recently unfolded and unending gratitude is the only way I know to begin accepting this huge opportunity.
We’re embarking on a new paradigm for the small farm. John and I will be the farm managers and on-site shepherds of this land, backed by the incredible support and private collaboration of our amazing investor and friend. The fact that small farms have become a worthy investment thrills me to no end. The tide is turning folks. The pendulum is headed back, and we are about to have a heck of a delicious ride.
I flew back to LA from Chicago this week for the closing. The furniture was included in the deal, so I decided to actually stay at the farm. Man, what a week. Monday evening, as I was packing basically nothing for the three-day trip, my throat started feeling a bit scratchy – oh no. I woke up Tuesday morning with a full-on sore throat and some chills. But darlings, absolutely nothing was going to dampen my spirits. By Tuesday evening, I had received the keys to the farm, pumped myself with massive doses of echinacea and passed out for my first night’s sleep at our new home. Not my first night’s sleep with John, which will be the real beginning, but the first night’s sleep, none the less.
I slept like a baby. And when I woke up on Wednesday morning, my chills were gone, but unfortunately so was my voice. Happy anyway, I puttered out to the kitchen and turned on the teapot to soothe the sharp sting in my throat. After pouring a cup of Rooibus, I called Todd for our first morning stroll. The trees were dewy and the air was crisp. We followed the Calla Lilly lined pathway towards the crow of the roosters, peeking in the dusty coop to bid them good morning. As we rounded right towards the citrus orchard to pick a grapefruit for breakfast, Todd ran hard after everything that sparkled. God only knows how that little guy can wake up only moments before a full-on sprint. It’s like John blasting music in the morning, which he does, a habit I’ve actually grown to love. It’s MORNING!
The rest of the trip involved many important decisions being made and facilitated. I had to meet with the current farm staff; we aren’t keeping everyone, so I faced a few hard meetings. Letting someone go was not something I have ever done before, but I can’t imagine it gets much easier with practice. The decisions had to be made, but I still said a quiet prayer for a families I disrupted. I hope they are led to abundance, wherever they are next led. After the employee meetings, I had a meeting with Mike Mobley of Progressive Land Management, who I hoped would be the man to lead the charge towards organic, bridge the gap until John and I return from Chicago on May 22 and spearhead the orchard replanting. Crossing my fingers, I opened the door to his friendly knock, and luckily, he matched my hopes and more. We actually began the conversion to organic as of April 13. No more chemicals will be used on this farm, no more Round-up, no pesticides, no chemical fertilizers. It’s a choice, and we are choosing – no. We will actually be heading for Demeter Biodynamic Certification. Oh my, we have a lot to learn!
I’m now tucked back into our little home in Chicago. My suitcase came home packed full of lemons, oranges and grapefruit. We have another brief trip to the farm end of April for several meetings designed to finalize the replanting of the orchard. Then, we return to Chicago for three weeks before our big move. I don’t have any pictures to share, yet. After this next trip, I’m sure I’ll have bunch because John’s coming, too. Eventually, this land will become something of a backdrop for this blog, allowing me to share barnyard stories, agriculture tips and authentic farm-to-table recipes. I’m chomping at the bit to share this beautiful land and everything she teaches us with you.
In the words of my mother, whenever she likes something a whole lot… “Yippee!”
xo – Organic Spark