The unbelievable.

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

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36 comments


  • Kristen Papac

    Yippeeeeeee! is Right! I am a fellow WAPF-LA member, but I don’t think we’ve met. I just wanted to give you my sincerest congratulations. I hope to enjoy your farm products in the future!

    April 17, 2011
  • Sandra Gillanders (sweetpeas4me)

    My goodness Molly, what a wonderful story. I am so happy for you, John and Todd. Think Todd will really enjoy being a country dog and have visions of him leaping and bouncing over hill and dale and chasing chickens whenever he has the opportunity.
    Hope all your dreams for your little piece of heaven come true and then some.
    Looking forward to hearing about your adventures.

    April 17, 2011
  • Linda Engelsiepen

    Molly, this is fantastic! I had no idea! This is so perfect for you – I cannot wait to hear your stories and taste your avocados. Congratulations and good luck!

    April 17, 2011
  • Oh wow – I am so incredibly excited for you! Wow!! Congrats!

    April 17, 2011
  • I am ready to get my hands dirty and I am at your service! “Yippee”! You deserve this. xx

    April 17, 2011
  • I’m so thrilled for you!! A huge door opened and you and John walked through – I can’t wait to see what this new adventure brings.

    April 17, 2011
  • Don Lehman

    Way to go guys! Another exciting adventure! Congratulations

    April 17, 2011
  • Yay you!! That is amazing!

    April 17, 2011
  • LisaW

    That’s awesome – I can’t wait to read more!!

    April 17, 2011
  • Joann

    Wow! What a wonderful blessing for you! Incredible.

    April 17, 2011
  • Congratulations! xoxoxo

    April 17, 2011
  • Molly, this is so exciting!!
    I am looking forward to reading about this incredible journey you’re embarking.

    When you’re ready for visitors I would absolutely love to bring my kids to check it out.

    “Yippee!”

    April 17, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      My mom will love that you gave me a “yippee” :) We’ll definitely have to get your family up to the farm!

      April 22, 2011
  • I just found your blog via cheeseslave, and I wanted to say congratulations! Your new farm sounds absolutely beautiful, what a dream come true! We purchased a 67 acre homestead several years ago and are slowly turning it into a food-producing venture for ourselves and possibly others as well. There is nothing quite like that feeling. Looking forward to following your adventures!

    April 17, 2011
  • Living the Dream… Good for you!

    April 17, 2011
  • Lidia Seebeck

    Welcome to California! Be prepared for a good bit of culture shock… my husband’s family lives in the Indiana Dunelands, so yes I know your home area! I won’t quite be your neighbor– I’m in Riverside– but close!

    I’m not yet a WAPF member but I do have a big interest in real food, and pastured livestock will definitely be a good thing here in the LA area.

    When I first came out here, I had six citrus trees. I’d never so much as tasted truly tree-ripened citrus before. You are in for such a treat! Four of my trees are Washington Navels and are almost 100 years old. I also have a lemon and a grapefruit. One thing I’ve done is to fertilize with alfalfa pellets. 50 pounds of pellets will feed even the hugest tree for about 3-4 months as the pellets break down. Obviously that’s a little labor-intensive for your operation, but I don’t know if you can somehow find some inspiration in there. The only thing I sometimes add is a little compost tea and occasionally some kelp.

    One last thing. Lemons and avocados are certainly wonderful and should always sell well. But do consider diversifying as you learn your land and what it can do for you, not only in different trees but in veggies as well. One thing I’ve noticed is that every year is different– this year is an amazing year for my carrots, parsley, and citrus but terrible for broccoli. Last year I barely had any parsley at all but I had incredible tomatoes, summer squash, peas, beans, and especially apples.

    April 18, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      Hi Lidia! Thanks for sharing! My husband and I are actually from Santa Monica, CA; we are just in Chicago temporarily. So, it won’t be too much of a culture shock, but otherwise, I can’t imagine! And also, we will definitely be diversifying. We are settling on the crops to re-plant the orchard at a meeting next friday. I can’t wait!

      April 22, 2011
  • Molly, this move to the farm will be so exciting!! When I was a kid I spent all my summers on an organic dairy farm in Devon, UK. It taught me so much about life, great food and love. Good luck friend! xo

    April 18, 2011
  • What a great opportunity for you! And what a wonderful location.

    April 18, 2011
  • Andrea

    I came over here via Cheeseslave and wanted to say congrats! I’m excited about your new adventure because I live in the area and will very likely be enjoying the fruits of your labor sometime in the future!

    April 18, 2011
  • Janis

    What a treat to have a friend moving to a farm. I’m looking forward to living vicariously through your blog. This sounds like a wonderful new beginning. I can’t wait to follow you along on your journey. Congratulations!

    April 18, 2011
  • Dad

    Once again, Molly, you have lived the mantra that Life is…….an attitude. Your attitude has carried you this far and your attitude will always determine your fate. I’m so proud of you that all I can say is “Yippee!” I’m so thankful that John is at your right hand and as supportive as he is about this new venture. You go girl!

    Dad

    April 18, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      Dad – THAT WAS SO NICE! Thank you! I love you! Molly

      April 22, 2011
  • Huge congrats Molly. I cannot wait to follow you as you embark on this fantastic adventure!

    April 19, 2011
  • Mom

    Well Hot Dog! My daughter’s a farm girl! Yippee, indeed!

    April 19, 2011
  • Vicki

    I was conducting a search of previous Natural Gourmet Institute graduates and came across your blog. I am going to be attending their in June and I am so excited. I will be following your journey. Can I ask where you did your internship? I have dreams of finding farm land to help provide food for our local Open Door Mission and possibly help provide a way to employ and educate some of the individuals that are down on their luck. I am sure once I get into school I may have different ideas. I can’t wait to see your progression with the farm and will be ordering your cookbook once you are finished. Good luck.

    April 20, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      I did my internship at Pure, Food & Wine Restaurant in Gramercy Park. You are going to love NGI. Good luck!

      April 22, 2011
  • Pam Fortner

    Molly! I’m so thrilled for you and John…it is a natural!
    Natural move, natural progression and everything you will do will be natural. Can’t wait to fill Rick in on the developments.
    Look forward to talking to you on Friday!
    Pam

    April 21, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      Awe – thanks Pam! I look forward to talking with you, too!

      April 22, 2011
  • Nichoel

    Congratulations Molly! I am so excited for you and your husband and I am so glad that the farm is here in California. Many of us here in California have a strong desire to keep our food local and organic, but it can be a challenge. So I am so happy that you will be here to help us in this venture. I look forward to reading about your adventures and seeing pictures of your new farm! :)

    April 21, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      Thanks Nichoel! I look forward to meeting you one day!

      April 22, 2011
  • Dana Myrick Lee

    How exciting, Molly!! Congratulations! Looking forward to driving down to the farm for a visit once you get settled!

    April 25, 2011
  • Scott Husted

    Molly, We have never meet. I spoke to John today. I was raise on the farm along with my six brothers and sisters. I helped place the bricks one by one. I farmed the soil and am excited the property is back into someone who can appreciate the religion of the land. I look forward to seeing you and John grow the property as we did with swine, goats, chickens, fresh fruit and vegetables. We made wine in the cellar and the home smelled sweet when filled with fermenting grapes. The house with the desks was the ” boys” house the the others were my sisters.

    Enjoy!

    May 24, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      Scott – this is so special that you shared this with us! It feels so good to know a bit of the past. Thank you and best to you… Molly

      May 30, 2011
  • Danielle Alongi

    Molly, you are so inspiring. Honestly, if I had a farm that needed shepherding I would be lucky to have you. Your investor is clearly very wise! I cannot wait to continue to read about this amazing journey you and John are on, and to learn all about farm life.

    July 10, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      Awe Danielle! Thank you so much! That meant so much coming from you. Hope this finds you well, and I look forward to crossing paths one day soon…

      July 10, 2011

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