The farm is located in the Black Dirt region of Orange County, an area with extremely fertile soil. The black dirt is left over from an ancient glacial lake, and has a high degree of organic matter (50%). Farmer Lisa likens the soil to “a big bowl of compost”. While the land isn’t suitable for building houses or practicing livestock agriculture, the high degree of organic matter is quite favorable to veganic growing.
The farmers chose to use veganic methods because they oppose the use of animal products, especially those produced on factory farms, and they also find that veganic agriculture fits well with their goal of becoming a self-sustaining farm.
At Hesperides Organica they are aiming for a closed system, and are working to minimize their use of outside materials. The farm currently has minimal inputs, including some seaweed and kelp meal, and certified organic pesticides in the case of specific problems. They purchase open-pollinated and heirloom seeds, and have begun to practice seed saving with the intention of becoming self-sufficient. As the land they are growing on is already highly fertile, they feel it is possible to sustain high fertility without outside inputs.
To maintain fertility on the land, Lisa uses vegetable compost, compost tea, and cover crops. Barley, rye, buckwheat, and sudangrass are used for cover crops, as well as a spring green manure mix from Johnny’s Seeds. A mixture of grasses are grown around each bed of vegetables.
Hesperides Organica market their produce through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, providing vegetables and herbs to 50 members, and part of the harvest is donated to local homeless shelters and food banks. Alongside a wide variety of household staples like potatoes, brocolli, squash, and greens, Hesperides also grows popcorn, okra, and peanuts. Their herbs include parsley, cilantro, lovage, dill, mint, echinacea, chamomile and lemon grass. To learn more about the farm or to join the CSA, visit their website at http://hesperidesorganica.com/