In this short educational video, John Koman explains how to maintain fruit crops with simple, but effective water conservation techniques. John and his wife Patti own the White Dove Farm in Santa Paula, a small town and agricultural hub in Southern California. Situated about 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the farm cultivates passion fruit, a few avocado and lemon varieties, and guavas.
Santa Paula’s climate is particularly good for growing passion fruit, with cool winters and rich soil. This is another reason that John’s crops do not require as much water — the adobe underneath his land has a sponge-like quality. At White Dove, the strategy is to use half the typical amount of water to produce twice as much fruit. To achieve this, the farmers plant crops next to each other in an alternating pattern, also known as interplanting. Generally, a farmer will plant similar crops together, but Koman spaces his passion fruit vines and avocado trees in a way that allows them to survive on the same amount of water.
Another water conservation strategy is to place a one-gallon can over a sprinkler, which limits its watering to the small area near each plant. This ensures that only the plant receives water, and far less weeds will grow on the surrounding land. The FruitGuys recognizes that John and Patti’s community farm is a like-minded business, doing what it can to sustain a healthy environment and grow quality, tasty fruit at the community level. By supporting White Dove, it feels great to know that at least 10 acres of nutrient-rich, valuable land will not be tarnished with the usual “slash and burn” farming methods.
Just to the east of John’s primary crops, there are three acres of lemon trees that haven’t been watered in three years, but they’re still surviving and producing fruit. By not watering these trees for that long, a substantial amount of water can be saved. Again, this is mostly due to the four-foot layer of adobe that John and Patti’s farm rests on. Underneath the adobe is a huge section of sand, which stores water until the plants need it. So long as the plants’ roots make it through the adobe, this natural, underground reservoir system is the perfect way to use water efficiently. It’s clear that White Dove Farm is serious about water conservation.