Joshua Tree, CA, June 20, 2009– The ceremony began with the ringing of a bell, given by a Polynesian monk, to bless the land. “The reason for choosing today is because of the Summer Solstice, energy wise you couldn’t ask for a better time to do a ground breaking ceremony, especially for growing things,” Ellis said.
A ribbon cutting ceremony announced the opening of Earth Wise Organic Farms with Jaime Farms June 20. Together they have created a local organic farming co-op.
As people were arriving for the ceremony, locals mingled, tasted strawberries from Pipes Canyon, put their names into a container for winning a basket of fruits and vegetables, and talked with Dr. Robert Ellis, ND, chairman of the Earth Wise Organic Farms board.
With about fifty people in attendance, including the Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce, Ellis said, “If each one of you told five of your friends, we are an instant success.” There are 500 share openings for the co-op with 12 week co-op cycles.
To keep the farm in a true organic style everything will be produced in house, including worm castings from a two acre worm farm on location and seeds from the plants being grown. Worm castings have been chosen for many reasons from keeping the ground from going hot, and preventing ground water contamination as with other farm animal manures. This is especially important since the surface of the farm is only 110 feet above the underground aquifer.
The well water that is being used to water the farm had quite a different taste than most of us have become accustomed to here locally. The taste had quite a delicious softness to it compared to the piped in water. To conserve this water, instead of sprinkler systems being used, there will be a drip system installed, with drips every 8 inches, saving approximately 60 percent in water use.
“I have been a part of the National Ground Water Association water management courses, and have logged over 200 hours in certification classes for training in water conservation,” Ellis said.
The growing fields have abundantly rich soil due to the fact this land was used in the 1950s to grow alfalfa. To break the wind on the plant, the crops will be planted in a ‘S’ or snake shape, a method used in Europe, to break the wind from themselves.
There will be no pesticides used on any crops. “If the critters stop by to have lunch, well, there’s gonna be a smörgåsbord,” Ellis said, “The goal is to develop a garden to shift critters to a different area.”
One hundred and sixty acres have been dedicated out of the 640 acres owned, to the organic farm. There will be over 300 plants throughout the year, depending on the season. There should be something of different colors every time you drive by or stop in. “I would like the community to stop by anytime and check out the farm,” Ellis said.
The growing cycle is 11 months out of the year. Each co-op is $32.00 for twelve weeks, paying for the microbial sterilization of the boxes, vegetable, and fruit, and for supplying the boxes or coolers used. This equates to approximately $2.67 per week.
The fresh fruit box is $35.00 per week and includes, 2 pints of strawberries, 2 lbs. of peaches, 2 lbs. of oranges, 1 lbs. cherries, 1 watermelon, 1 cantaloupe, 2 lbs. of apples, and 2 lbs. of tomatoes.
The fresh veggie box is $40.00 per week and carries 1 bunch of carrots, 1 bag of lettuce mix, 1 lbs. of broccoli, 1 lbs. of cucumbers, 1 lbs. of Summer squash, 2 lbs. of peppers, 2 lbs. of potatoes, 1 lbs. of eggplant, 1 bunch of asparagus, 3 ears of corn, 1 lbs of green beans, and 1 bag of spinach.
A mixed box of fresh fruit and vegetables costs $45.00 per week and is stocked with 2 pints of strawberries, 2 lbs. of peaches, 2 lbs. of oranges, 2 lbs. of apples, 1 watermelon, 2 lbs. of tomatoes, 1 bag of lettuce mix, 1 lbs. of cucumbers, 2 lbs. of peppers, 3 ears of corn, 1 lbs. of green beans, 1 lbs. of Summer squash, and 1 bag of spinach.
“These prices versus in the grocery store are substantially less,” said Ellis.
To join the co-op, the website is www.earthwiseorganicfarms.com, or call Dr. Robert Ellis at 760-542-9780. To visit the farm the address is 3698 Sunfair Drive in Joshua Tree, California.