Cloverfield owner Susan Truscott holds a basket
for gathering produce
turned the entire slope into a water catchment system. When
it rains, the water seeps into those mulch-filled swales instead
of running off. Fruit trees and bushes were then planted along
the berms. A drip irrigation system currently nourishes the
young plants, but when mature they should require little or
no water beyond what nature provides.
And those unsightly weeds I mentioned? They actually
have been cleared – but only directly around the drip line
of the trees. Elsewhere they aren’t really a problem. They
help stabilize the soil until the trees are big enough to do it
themselves, and they probably help reduce soil evaporation,
further lessening the need for water.
This extensive orchard contains more than 800 kinds of
fruit trees and bushes, including obscure varieties such as pawpaw
and seaberry, as well as 90 different types of grape. One
advantage of this diversity (similar to Cloverfield’s strategy) is
that fruits will ripen at different times. Instead of the familar
paradigm where an orchard produces lots of the same thing
at once, requiring a cadre of (poorly paid) migrant workers
to do the picking and then move on, a small team of regular
employees will work continuously, picking whatever is ripe,
and pruning the trees when they’re done producing.
Much of what is picked - and they anticpate producing
literally tons of fruit each year - will make its way to the
Good Table Cafe – the one to be built at the former Adachi
Nursery. Even the wood that’s pruned from the trees will have
a use. Almost all fruit trees today are the product of grafting,
where so-called scion wood is taken from the desired fruitproducing
variety and attached to a rootstock - usually a
closely-related speciman chosen for health, vigor, and size, but
whose own fruit is less desirable. Thus, the El Sobrante farm
will become the “mother nursery” supplying the mail order
nursery in Oakland, whose products will also be sold at the
nursery adjacent to the cafe.
These aren’t the only food-growing enterprises in our
neighborhood, but a description of the others must wait until
a future issue.
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