Joshua Tree, CA, July 26, 2009 - The first crop is underway at the new Earthwise Farm located on Sunfair Road in Joshua Tree. The new farm in Joshua Tree is the largest fruit and vegetable farm in the South Desert region of San Bernardino County (from Victorville to 29 Palms) and is now the only major farm in operation in the entire Morongo Basin. The sustainable farm is located at the site of a former alfalfa farm that was last active in the 1950′s. After nearly 60 years of dormancy, the soil at the former alfalfa farm is still abundantly rich and fertile. New plantings for this season include peanuts, carrots, beets, watermelon, cantalopes, winter squash and potatoes.

A two acre worm farm has also been started to supply the farm with worm castings. A planned expansion of the worm farm is scheduled to occur in September 2009 to provide local growers with a steady supply of worm castings.

The water-conserving drip irrigation system was installed on the first 40 acre farmsite parcel, operated by Jaimie Bros. Farms. After several attempts of pressurizing the system at full well output, Jaimie Bros. succeeded at containing the prodigious output of well #2.

An example of the farm equipment on site.

Yucca Valley, CA, July 18, 2009 – The 2nd meeting of Boulder Community Gardens took place at Greg, Chris and Jeremy’s home in Yucca Valley. Director Carol Petersen began the meeting agenda with a brief statement of purpose, “Collective Efforts” and expressed gratitude for those who are participating in the Boulder Community Garden project. In attendance were 22 persons who sat in the glow of a beautiful garden brimming with squash, amaranth, zinnia’s, and more.

At the meeting Dr. Robert Ellis of Earthwise Organic Farms explained his offer to set aside several acres for a community garden on farmland adjacent to his sustainable farm in Joshua Tree. The site already has an abundant supply of high quality water, is located next to a worm farm, a large scale pesticide-free farm, and is easily accessible via Sunfair Rd.

Dr. Ellis suggested that we might consider the growing of indigenous trees and plants as there is a ready market for those items in the high desert. Dr. Ellis also expressed his favorable impression of the amount of talent, knowledge and experience demonstrated by the members of Boulder Community Garden.

We were in the company of people including Mara Cantello who had received the Jefferson Award for community volunteerism. Her favorite quote, “We must continue to exhibit the spirit of volunteerism and generous individual giving for in that spirit be found life finest experience.” Each year Mara and a community of selfless volunteers produce Tender Loving Christmas. We were in the company of eco activist’s and social activist’s. Cindy Zack has taught for 17 years at Yucca High biology, ecology and gardening. Our hosts were adept in water management, composting and a knowledge of insects with a family owned business which has products at the Smithsonian. There were several healers including Dr. Chuck founder of the High Desert Health Fair, Kendra Moshie who is certified from the Hippocrates Institute and Alpha Richards who does spiritual readings.

The gathering lasted for 6 hours and everyone had a time to share from the heart. During the break new friends came together and inspiration was flowing with great feedback and interaction. John, artist and flute player emphasized the social importance of having a place to “make and grow community.” There was an amazing vegetarian buffet with ginger noodle’s, grilled artichokes, a savory corn dish, beans, potato salad, fresh organic fruit, French toast bread putting with strawberries, veggie chorizo and nopales and blue corn tortillas.

For more information about Boulder Community Gardens, visit their website at http://bouldercommunitygardens.ning.com/

Yucca Valley, CA, July 15, 2009 - A commercial space at Water Canyon in Yucca Valley was leased for Earthwise co-op members to pick-up freshly harvested produce. The co-op is located at the site of the new Yucca Valley Farmers Market.

The Yucca Valley Certified Farmers Market celebrates their Grand Opening with a Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting.  Present to help owner Lori Herbel cut the ribbon are Eric Mueller, Elizabeth Mediavilla, Yucca Valley Town Council Members Bill Neeve and George Huntington along with Robert Ellis, Tim Sakach, Jim Schooler, Yucca Valley Community Services Director, Yucca Valley Chamber Past President Jennifer Collins, Yucca Valley Chamber Ambassadors, Yucca Valley Chamber Members, with friends, family and shoppers.

Earthwise Organic Farms is proud to announce their new location at Water Canyon, located on the North West corner of 29 Palms Highway and Pioneertown Road.  Please call for more information at (760) 542-9780 or visit the co-op Wednesdays from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

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.

JOSHUA TREE, March 14, 2009 — A proposed commercial organic farm could supply local produce, if business partners can overcome challenges posed by Joshua Basin Water District and San Bernardino County regulations.


Tim Sakach, left, and Robert Ellis water vegetable sprouts in a greenhouse donated by Sunfair neighbor Jack Fletcher of Joshua Tree. The gardeners hope to have a crop of locally grown produce available this year.

The 640-acre, one-square-mile site is in the Sunfair area, west of Copper Mountain College and northeast of Hi-Desert Medical Center.

The property owner is Robert Ellis, a retired osteopath who has sunk five wells on the land. The wells remain unpermitted, pending a resolution with the water district, which wants the wells to be metered so water managers can monitor Ellis’ usage.

He also is working with officials to resolve problems with the county.

Initially, he planned to put a golf course and attendant community on the property, buy the nearby airport and construct a building-trades school there, but that partnership didn’t pan out.

Since then, Ellis said, he has gotten about 15 offers to sell the property, including one that would put automobile salvage facility on the land.

“I turned down a $23 million dollar offer, and another of $15.2 million for 200 acres,” Ellis said. “Nothing felt right.”

A consultant whom Ellis said is one of the top geologists in the country reportedly told him if he were to take 500 acre feet per year out of his land and didn’t return one, he might run out of water there within the next several thousand years.

Ellis plans to use much less water and return much more of it into the aquifer, using advanced growing and irrigation techniques.

He wants to erect 12 large greenhouses, up to 60,000 square feet, on the western end of the property, away from the asphalt road.

“The land is paid for, the wells are paid for. Everything is ready,” Ellis said. “I can’t think of anything that would serve this community as well as fresh vegetable that don’t have to be trucked in.”

“I am glad to be here,” Ellis said. “The excitement is off the meter.”

I’m looking for help,” the prospective gardener added. “I want, first of all, people who have experience working in this environment, (who know) what vegetables will grow here.”

Ellis envisions a working relationship with the chamber of commerce whereby existing businesses can synergize with the farm — restaurants, health food stores, etc. “We want to grow for locals,” Ellis said.

A board of directors, “People with experience marketing organic products,” will be formed, Ellis said. “Our company is only going to be as good as the team we put together.”

Ellis is looking at partnerships with a variety of local entities, including students. “I would love to see Copper Mountain College open a course on organic farming.”

Initially, Ellis would like to experiment with beets, squash, potatoes, onions, tomatoes and sprouts. “We’ll have our first crop this year,” Ellis promised.

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