Apricot Lane FarmsDate: 12/16/2022
Want to reconnect with source? Join me on my journey to learn where my food comes from, and the hidden beauty I discovered on a farm not far from my new LA home.
Before I moved to Los Angeles last year, I remember a good friend of mine raving about an avocado oil they’d purchased from Apricot Lane Farms. It wasn’t until I actually moved in that I realized the Cali-based company I’d been ordering from was close to where I live!
It all started when my physical therapist and I had been talking about local farmers markets. She mentioned how she always visits the Apricot Lane Farm stands when they crop up across the city. I swear it was so off-hand how she mentioned they do tours…and for some serendipitous reason the idea stuck in my head. I went straight to their website when I got home and signed up for a tour.
Now, in my life I am blessed to have my gardens. They more than anything else bring me daily close to nature. And as much as I surround myself with greenery and growth, this tour was to be another experience entirely; one that was something close to the feeling of nostalgia for another life.
Looking back I know I have been deeply inspired by the strength of Apricot Lane Farms’ single vision: great food, grown well. The feeling of seeing where the food I enjoy is grown, cared for, and cured has stayed with me since…and somehow I feel I would be selfish not to share more about this gem (and my visit) in the hopes that you’ll stop by too!
This is really your chance to experience the simple pleasures that love, enthusiasm, and good old hard work and dedication can bring in California
The sweet story of Apricot Lane Farms
Now, you’ll have to go visit the farm itself to really experience just how much love can be put into a thing–but when you hear the story of how Apricot Lane Farms was started when you join in with their regular tour, you can’t help but fall in love too!
The story goes that Molly – a traditional foods chef in Santa Monica – was having trouble finding locally sourced foods that were grown in good, nutrient-rich soil. Together with her partner Jonn (the film-maker responsible for the farm’s infamous documentary The Biggest Little Farm) found an investor committed to the cause of healthy farming, and grew their 10-acre dream into 214 acres of greening infrastructure.
However, when the two purchased the land in 2011, the soil had been depleted by more than 50 years of over-vigorous farming. It would be Molly’s determination, John’s support, and farming mentor Alan York’s renowned skill in biodynamics that would therefore regenerate the landscape to what it’s become today: an absolutely outstanding testament to the power of sustainability and land rehabilitation.
Not that it’s always been a walk in the park for the couple, so-says our tour director. To grow the more than 200 varieties of fruits and vegetables, and care for the hundreds of sheep, chickens, cows, pigs, and ducks that live there, the team have had to build an ecosystem of community care and support as well…one that has led to my hearing about their efforts from all the way across the state!
Highlights: What to expect during your tour to Apricot Lane Farms
When our tour was all said and done, I was taken aback by how much ground we had covered in such a short period of time…and still the day felt like it had gone by so fast. I could have stayed for days…or even weeks and still not gotten enough of the sights and sounds and smells all around.
Of course, no one on the farm shies away from the hard parts of what it takes to maintain an agricultural operation of this size–and to keep it sustainable on top of everything else. In these areas our guide did not spare any detail (I had some geeky moments myself as we learned about the composting methods!), and talked all about the farm’s past failures as well as the wins. It was sincerely incredible to learn how an entire community of ideas, concepts, and builds could result in a functioning mechanism that…well, ultimately puts food on my table.
And still, behind all of the bits and bobs – all of the moving parts that make up Apricot Lane Farms – there was the skyline filled with green, the apricots getting their blush, and the sweet long-haired cows mowing across endless pastures. From deep within me I felt something call, like some ancestor from within recognizing home.
Together the group of us stood gazing from Alan’s lookout, taking in the blooming orchards and drinking fresh lemonade. Quietly, our guide spoke about Alan York, who passed away only a year after Molly and John had purchased the property. Thinking of that, and of what his knowledge about cover crops and sustainable soil practices had been able to accomplish, I savored the experience and taste of fresh plums with my eyes closed, letting the fruit nourish me. I thanked him, and everyone who’d worked so hard to make sure I could enjoy that moment in full, delicious freedom.
From there I began to really settle into the rhythm of the place. The barnyard buzzing noises and sharp smell of compost were soon a comfort, and I could imagine myself as a younger girl helping around the place. I saw myself feeding the free range chickens, or training the guard dogs who watched the lazy cows or turning the compost worms and fertilizing the plants with the farm’s special compost tea.
All too soon, though, we had to climb back into the car to leave. And while I wanted to stay, watching the sky turn pink as we drove away cemented the whole visit deep into my memory like a calm sanctuary. It was as if I had found a place I could go – whether physically or not – to find myself (to find peace) anytime I needed it. I wouldn’t soon forget either all I’d learned along the way–for if you plan to visit, you’ll be sure to get an incredible crash course on sustainable farming while you’re there…one that you can even take home and adopt into your kitchen! I know I’ll be thinking much more about composting now that I’ve seen how it all works in action, and how simple it can be to maintain in small batches.
What should I bring for my visit to Apricot Lane Farms?
If you’re interested in film or photography, this is the place to go to get some incredible footage–so definitely bring a camera if you have a chance. Just be sure to ask those around you for consent if anyone else is in your shots.
Otherwise, I kept things very simple: I wore comfy clothes that allowed me to move. Leggings with sneakers and a long shirt, complete with a cross body bag so I can take pics and videos easily!
If you plan to go, I also recommend you wait until you’re home from the tour to watch the film! That way you can take everything in while at the farm, and get that ‘I’ve been there!’ sensation when you watch later on. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
Do you plan to tour Apricot Lane Farms? I would love to hear how your trip went, and what you thought of the experience. I was genuinely astonished to learn more about food infrastructure and sustainability, and plan to do a little more research about it in the future, so watch out for that. Until then, I really encourage you to experience the beauty of that place to the absolute fullest…and maybe I’ll even see you out there!
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