Rain on the farm

What a beautiful time of year, especially after a brutally hot summer.  This summer did not feel as long but the intensity in August was devastating.  It’s times like these, cool mornings and rains that have watered the garden, that you forgot about how hard it can be to grow food during our Mediterranean summers.  You often forgot that there is no rain between June and October.

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For nearly half the year there is no rain in California and the ground dries up.  The grasses turn “golden” and the wildfires rage.  The lakes and rivers that flow through the Sierra Nevada foothills are the only areas of greenery.  Farming in the foothills without water would be certain failure, yet farmers are gamblers in the respect that they will do whatever it takes to make it work.  Ditches were put in place years ago and lakes damned and diverted for irrigation water.

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When Fall comes rolling around the rains are a welcome reprise for the parched soil.  The earth breathes a sigh of relief and so to does the farmer.  Days are shorter and the plants grow a little slower.  Living without moisture for so long we are often ill prepared for the first rains, as if we have never seen this miracle before.  It is easy to take for granted the water that pours from a faucet.  Often that water is used but for brief moment and gone down the drain.

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Our farm reuses water from our drains to water perennials like fruit trees, goji berries and hop vines.  The farm is designed with water in mind, we have strategically located our gardens in areas that would benefit most from seasonal rains and created contoured beds to harvest runoff water.  Drip tape is used for all long season crops and micro emitters for quick turnover annuals.

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