By Jessie Flo McDonald, EFA Special Events Coordinator
Water is a big issue and it is only getting bigger. Hello! My name is Jessie Flo and I am a program assistant at EcoFarm. Throughout the month of April we launched the production of a video series documenting successful water management systems on farms in the central coast and the Bay Area.
On April 17th EFA’s Executive Director Ken Dickerson, videographer Adam Hain, and I visited Molino Creek Farms Collective in Davenport, CA to learn more about their dry farming operation. Who says you can’t farm land without water? Dry Farming is a method of growing crops without the use of irrigation and its been working for Molino Creek’s tomatoes for almost 30 years!
The tomato starts are grown in the green house, where they are watered regularly through germination, until the seedlings are healthy and about 6 inches long. At this point, the starts are moved out of the cushy, warm greenhouse to harden off and get accustomed to the harsh conditions of the outside world. They receive no additional irrigation once they leave the greenhouse. After about a week or so, the starts are moved from the hardening off area and transplanted to a rigorously prepared field of fine soil. Though the seedlings will not again receive irrigation, they do have access to the water rich clay-loam soil that lies just below humus. This will be their sole source of water as they grow into some of the juiciest, most delicious tomatoes on the market!
According to Joe Curry of Molino Creek Farms Collective, benefits of dry farming include incredible flavor in your tomatoes and savings in your water bill. Drawbacks are a smaller crop yield and higher crop susceptibility to blight. You be the judge, check out Molino Creek’s Tomatoes at the Downtown Santa Cruz, and weekend Campbell, Aptos and Palo Alto Farmer’s Markets, as well as natural food stores across Santa Cruz!
Stay tuned to join us on our adventure up the coast to learn about water management. Next week, Pescadero’s Harley Goat Farms!