This week the TakeHome case contains broccoli, red cabbage, and
cilantro from Efren Avalos' organic farm in Hollister, CA. Hollister
is a quiet town, except for the rumblings of an annual motorcycle
rally and the occasional earthquake shudder from the Calaveras Fault.
This is where Avalos coaxes year-around vegetables from the fertile
soil. “It's flat land with really nice weather,” says
Avalos, adding, “In the summertime it’s pretty
hot.” He harvests the veggies in the quiet early morning hours
and drives them to The FruitGuys the same day.
March is a time when the San Joaquin Valley farmer typically has a
foot in each season: it’s the end of winter harvest and the
planting of summer crops in interior California’s fields.
“This time of the year I have cabbage, cauliflower, celery,
broccoli, onion and garlic, parsley, cilantro and the last of the
lettuce,” says Avalos. When it’s not raining he's in
the fields, when it is raining, he's planting summer warm season
veggies such as tomatoes, peppers and his famous sweet corn. Currently
the seedlings are busy growing in a protected green house.
California’s mild climate means there is barely a lull between
the seasons, keeping farmers like Avalos busy 24/7/365 from seed to
The Farm Direct alliance between FruitGuys and Avalos Farm began when
FruitGuy Bridget met Avalos through Torrey Olson of Gabriel Farm,
which supplies us with Asian Apple Pears, apples, and persimmons. The
great quality, diversity of produce and multiple-season availability
of Avalos’ vegetables made him a great match for The FruitGuys
TakeHome program. “Farm direct” means produce buyer
Rebecca calls Avalos to check on what he has ready for harvest. After
tabulating customer orders, Avalos hits the fields to collect your
order and delivers it to FruitGuys where we pack them in boxes. Those
same veggies are delivered to your place of work by noon, same day
they left the field. This is all done by ole-fashioned cell phone
since Avalos doesn't use email or a Blackberry. “I don't like
to use computers very much, I prefer to work outside in the
fields,” he says. That's just as well, because who knows when
Avalos would a chance to recharge his batteries.