Part 2 of Food Bloggers’ Farm Tour with California Farm Water Coalition
A few weeks ago I was invited to a farm tour of the San Joaquin Valley near Fresno, California sponsored by the California Farm Water Coalition. If you missed all the peaches in Part 1 of the tour, we’ll wait for you to catch up. Read about our morning at Wawona Farms and The Peach Tree Farm Stand here. After a delicious lunch at a local restaurant featuring fresh local produce, our group of food bloggers headed south to Hudson Farms Farm Stand in Sanger, California.
Driving southeast from Fresno, our hosts Clare Foley and Brandon Souza of California Farm Water Coalition pointed out various crops as we passed acres of farm fields. Some of the fields were lush and green while others were dry and brown. We learned that water availability to farms has been restricted due to years of drought in California. Without snow and rain during the winter months, there is no way to recharge the water supply. Water that was promised to farmers and has been available for agriculture in the past has been allocated instead to cities due to population growth, and also to restore habitats or protect fish species. Sometimes water has been discharged into the ocean instead of being stored for critical human use, without any proof that it is improving the habitat for native fish. As a result, many family farms are in jeopardy and agricultural regions of the state are experiencing unprecedented loss of employment.
Hudson Farms Fruit Stand
If you are traveling in the Fresno area, be sure to stop by Hudson Farms Fruit Stand, 4300 South Academy in Sanger, and enjoy a visit with Liz Hudson. She is a one-woman encyclopedia when it comes to all things agriculture. Liz and her husband Earl come from long family legacies of farming, and are currently operating a 5th and 6th generation farm. It’s no wonder that she is such a fascinating person to meet, as she spent 30 years in agricultural public relations and communications, and serves on numerous boards related to the ag industry.
You will find Liz tending a huge garden behind the farm stand, greeting customers with tastes of delicious fruit, relating stories about the latest adventures on the farm, offering the recipe for her famous peach cobbler, or encouraging a friend to try new combinations for fruit jams….just for starters! Read more about Liz and her family’s activities here.
When we arrived at the fruit stand we were invited to take a seat at the table where family members and neighbors regularly gather. We tasted fresh fruit, enjoyed homemade lemonade and devoured Liz’s famous peach cobbler.
As we listened to Liz describe the farming operation, we couldn’t help but notice all the materials she had collected regarding the water supply in California. Inspirational messages are written on white boards or displayed in frames…there is no shortage of optimism and hopefulness here.
Liz Hudson of Hudson Farms shares a bounty of fresh produce and knowledge.
Liz was eager to show us her vegetable and flower garden behind the farm stand…”her passion.” Brandon pointed out the drip irrigation tape that can be recycled for other uses after it has done its job of delivering water directly to the roots of the plants. The soil in California’s central valley is the best soil in the world for growing food…truly there is no better place on earth to produce the nutrients that people need. Over the years farms have become more efficient, increasing production of food for our nation as well as other countries of the world while decreasing the amount of water needed to grow all that food.
Even with amazing innovation and efficiencies, farmers have been required to bear the heaviest restrictions in water availability in a seemingly unfair and unbalanced manner. (Our own avocado farm has been affected for years by restrictions imposed on agriculture long before the general public was even told that a drought existed….but that’s a different story for another day.) Sadly, those who are in the position to make the important decisions affecting funding for additional storage and water availability are not always well informed about the history, the science, and the big-picture consequences of allowing the world’s best food producing region to dry up. Contrary to the daily news reports, the California drought is not all about the weather. A winter with lots of snow and rain would certainly help the situation for some farms, but the real need is an integrated and balanced plan to restore the earth, care for the animals, provide for people in cities, plan for landscaping, and ensure that our important agricultural resources are respected and prioritized at the same time.
Hudson Farms Fruit Stand offers fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers in season. They also have homemade jams and other products made by local artisans. By the time we loaded up the car to head back to the hotel, we had fresh floral arrangements, special veggies to use in our recipes, and of course, more fruit!
You probably wish you could have tasted that peach cobbler, don’t you? And did you hear me say that Liz generously shares her recipes? You can find the recipe for Liz’s cobbler or try some of her other delicious creations here. (look in the bottom left-hand corner of the webpage)
This was just the first day of our amazing tour sponsored by the California Farm Water Coalition. Stay tuned for Part 3 when we travel to the west side of the San Joachin Valley…cantaloupes, vineyards, tomatoes and almonds.