Know Your Farmer: Bautista Creek Local Produce
|Farmers Ken and Susan Kelley|
On the Farm with Ken and Susan KelleyDid you know your favorite farmers' market (we mean us, of course!) is operated by a small community-minded non-profit? We at Sprouts of Promise Foundation are not only dedicated to bringing you the best locally grown farm products, but we're also committed to helping you make that personal connection with where your food comes from and who grows it. Farmers' Market Manager, Elle Mari, and Sprouts of Promise Executive Director, Mark Anderson, recently made the trek out to Hemet, CA to visit Bautista Creek Local Produce. We're excited to share our farm visit story with you and most importantly, share the story of the Kelley Family behind Bautista Creek Local Produce.
A Brief History
|Overlooking the Citrus Orchard|
|Sampling Mandarins Right Off the Tree|
Ken Kelley and his wife Susan are third generation family farmers in Hemet, California. Ken's grandfather purchased hundreds of acres in the 1920's to start the citrus orchard that the Kelley family still operates today. The citrus orchard sits on over 200 acres of beautiful land, with views of Idyllwild nestled into the San Jacinto Mountains. Ken took over from his father, and grows several varieties of oranges, grapefruits, and lemons for both the commercial citrus industry and a smaller portion for local eateries and farmers' markets.
|Touring the Fields with Ken and Susan|
Susan, a long-time avid gardener native to the San Gabriel-area, decided it was time to expand her local garden crops to grow a variety of interesting and beautiful seasonal produce for farmers' markets. On about four acres of land, Susan and Ken, with the help of their daughter Emily and farm staff, grow everything from purple aspragus and romanesco to mandarinquats and boysenberries.
Q & A
Q: You have so many interesting crops we don't normally see at the farmers' market. How do you choose what to grow each season?
|Romanesco Broccoli in the Fields|
A: Susan is a self-described "seed catalog nerd". She constantly pours over catalogs focusing on heirloom varieties and special seasonal niche crops that will offer Bautista's farmers' market customers something very unique and special. While they do focus on crops that are known successes for them in terms of crop health and customer interest, they're also known to have fun experimenting with new crops each season. You'd be hard pressed to find romanesco broccoli like their's at most markets, and we just can't wait for their black heirloom tomato variety that's coming this summer.
|Bautista Stand at SoCo Farmers' Market|
Q: With all your success in California's local citrus industry, why sell at farmers' markets? What makes you want to get out there each and every week year-round?
A: In speaking with Ken, Susan, and Emily--they all agree that the number one factor that keeps bringing them back to the market is the customers. "It's so gratifying when people buy the food you've grown. It's such a positive feeling," says Susan. They love the great feedback they get from customers and Susan says that farming the way they do it is such a wonderful creative outlet for her. It takes a lot of planning and experimenting, but they find it very rewarding when something new like a colorful floret mix of broccoli romanesco and purple cauliflower works out!
Q: Customers have remarked on how long your lettuces stay fresh at home. What's the secret?
|Fresh Lettuce Mix in the Fields|
A: The roots! Ken and Susan sell lettuces with the roots still attached and in water at the farmers' market so they'll stay fresh and last at least a week (often 2!) in the fridge for you. Sometimes you can't get to the market the next week, so how nice would it be to still have fresh salad lettuce ready for lunch?
Q: In addition to the fresh produce, you also set up a fresh squeezed juice bar at the market. Tell us more about that. Any new juice blends coming out this spring?
|Fresh Squeezed Juice at the Market|
A: The Bautista Creek Local Produce Juice Bar is known to be Ken's baby. He loves the opportunity to share his citrus varieties with customers in inventive and healthy ways. All juice is squeezed fresh onsite at the market and is unpasteurized so you don't lose any of the rich antioxidants fresh fruits and veggies offer. Currently you can try fresh mandarin juice, navel OJ, a variety of lemonades, and our farmers' market seasonal favorite, The Green Goddess (come and find out what it is!). Ken has a brand new juice coming out called, "Beet Me Up", featuring what else--beets! This spring we'll see blackberry and boysenberry-infused lemonades too. Yum!
Q: Can you tell us about the new crops we can look forward to this spring and summer?
|Susan Showing New Starts to Go in the Ground Soon|
A: Dark red beets and golden beets. Purple asparagus. Rainbow chard. Purple peacock--which is a cross between kale and broccoli (wow!). Multi-colored carrots. English peas. Boysenberries and blackberries. Watermelon radishes. And then of course come summer--zucchini squash and tomatoes will be in full swing.
|Ken in the Fields|
Q: What's one thing you really want our local SoCo customers to know about your farm?
A: "When you buy local, you're really getting the best in taste and freshness. And remember, even in California, we still have seasons where certain crops are going to thrive more," says Susan. So true!
|Bautista Stand at SoCo Farmers' Market|
Want to Know More?
Visit the Kelleys at the farmers' market every Saturday 9am-2pm. Their stand is closest to the Surfas Culinary District-end of the market and don't forget about the juice bar!
|Where the Free-Range Eggs Come From|
Did you know you can visit Bautista Creek Local Produce at the farm in Hemet too? Every Friday from 9am-2pm you can pick up fresh fruits and veggies, free-range eggs, and artisan pickles and jams. If you're lucky, maybe you'll get to see the chickens like we did! Get in touch with Susan Kelley to find out more. Anyone interested in a SoCo Certified Farmers' Market special farm field trip?
|Arriagas Family Flowers|
What's New at the Market?
Brand new farmers starting this Saturday, March 2nd! You've been asking for fresh cut flowers for awhile now and we've got 'em! Please come by and welcome new farmer, Arriagas Family Flowers from Riverside. They've got the best local fresh flowers for quite a steal and they'll even arrange a beautiful bouquet to your liking. Don't wait for someone to brighten your day--do it yourself!
|Fat Plant Man Succulents|
Keeping with the plant theme, we have a new succulent farmer starting on Saturday. Clifford Meng of The Fat Plant Man Succulents from Fullerton will have beautiful and unique drought resistant plants on sale. Clifford has a mighty busy spring horticultural show schedule ahead of him so be sure to welcome him to the market this Saturday and catch him now!
See Us in the New York Times?!
It seems the rest of the country is envious of our year-round growing seasons and more so--our amazing SoCo Certified Farmers' Market! Our farmers' market video was featured in the Huffington Post and then picked up by the New York Times! Hey Costa Mesa, betcha didn't know you were that famous (or did you?)?!
Thanks for your continued support to help us grow the market and support California's family farmers. Want to always get the latest news on farmers and what's in season? Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter. We'll see you this Saturday, 9am-2pm!