John and Patti Koman own the White Dove Farm in Santa Paula, a small town and agricultural hub in Southern California. Located about 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the farm grows passion fruit, a few avocado and lemon varieties, and guavas. Initially founded in 1938, the Komans became the property’s second owners in 1997 and named the farm after John’s father, who used to raise white doves.
When people get in touch with the Komans, they’re mainly interested in learning more about sustainability and permaculture. Since the Koman family bought the farm, they haven’t used pesticides once; instead, they employ helpful insects to combat the pests. Once these beneficial insects have eliminated the threat, the Komans make sure that nectar-bearing flowers are available all around the farm as an alternate food source. This way, the good insects stay on the property and protect the fruit crops.
Depending on the farmer’s land, sustainability can take on different forms. For example, a farmer with a lot of sand on their property might plant grapevines, as they grow better in that environment. White Dove Farm is located on adobe soil, so they take unique measures to enhance the soil’s fertility. By putting any leftover plants through a wood-chipper and then rolling it into the ground, it makes the soil permeable and turns into a carbon storage area. When the trees take in carbon dioxide, they now have a place to store it in the ground. Then, the microbes in the soil can feed on it, which eliminates the need for any artificial fertilizers.
When planting passion fruit trees too closely, there is always a risk of an orchard getting infected with fusarium wilt — a vascular fungal disease. Once one tree is infected, the fungus can quickly spread through the entire orchard and destroy the crops. To deal with this in a sustainable way, the Komans have planted their passion fruit trees with twice as much space around them, reducing the risk of an orchard-wide infection. If one tree exhibits signs of fusarium wilt, they can remove it from the soil before it becomes a bigger problem.
The FruitGuys recognizes that White Dove’s community farm is a like-minded business, doing what it can to sustain a healthy environment and grow delicious fruit at the local level. The Komans are proud to only pick the biggest fruits for their customers, as the small ones left on the ground also contribute to permaculture. By supporting White Dove, it feels good to know that at least 10 acres of nutrient-rich adobe land will not be mistreated with “slash and burn” farming methods.