We’ve been growing pears and plums in Auburn, California since 1918, when George Boorinakis purchased the property on which our farm is located today. Now, four generations later, we are still a small family owned and operated business, and we are passionate about keeping it that way. We’re a registered orgainic farm, and we are committed to incorporating sustainable farming practices wherever possible — we use integrated pest management and low-spray techniques to minimize our environmental impact, we keep bees to pollinate our crops, and, since we’re local, our produce is never transported over long distances or kept in cold storage.
Our farm philosophy…
Since 2009 we have been managing our fruit trees organically. Our farming activities are based on these precepts:
Organic Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
The University of California, Davis has published guidelines for IPM. These guidelines help us make decisions on pest and weed management, soil fertility, and irrigation. Since mid-2008 we have been using only organic materials for pest control and soil nutrients. Some key elements of IPM include
- pest and beneficial identification and monitoring. We regularly inspect our trees to determine what beneficial and harmful insects are found there. These inspections help us determine when is the proper timing for the spraying (organic) we do.
- cultural control practices. We use mechanical methods for weed control (no more Round-Up), we provide hedgerows and cover crops to encourage beneficial insects, like ladybugs, praying mantises, native bees for pollination, and we keep our orchard clean (removing damaged & diseased fruit from trees).
- biological control by encouraging such beneficial insects as assassin bugs, lady beetles, lacewings, pirate bugs. These are the natural enemies of the aphids, mites, thrips, and caterpillars that damage our fruit. By encouraging them we do not rely on harsh pesticides. We provide housing for bluebirds, bats, and owls to keep mosquito, insect and gopher populations under control.
- organically acceptable pest control methods. We use two kinds of sprays in the orchard. Both are organic, and neither is harmful to our honey bees. In the winter, we spray the dormant trees with a horticultural oil, which suffocates the eggs of mites and other harmful insects. During the spring and summer we spray with this oil (to control mites) and with an organic microbial insecticide which attacks only the coddling moth (the ‘worm’ in most apples and pears). We do not spray to control other harmful insects such as leafrollers, aphids, or stink bugs. They cause only minor damage to the trees and fruit.
We believe we should operate our ranch so that we can meet our present needs without impacting the ability of future generations to meet their needs. We also recognize that we are part of a larger picture — our local ecosystem, and our community. For us, that means our activities should not impact our neighbors. Particular concerns we have for sustainability are
- Water supply and water quality. Our water for our agricultural operation comes from the Auburn Ravine; while our own well supplies our domestic water. We are careful that none of our activities impact the quality of either source. This year we will replace our irrigation system with one that will greatly reduce the orchard’s water usage.
- Soil. Soil fertility is key to the ongoing productive use of agricultural land. We test our soil regularly to identify deficiencies, apply organic amendments as needed (usually compost and lime), and plant garden and orchard cover crops to supply additional organic matter.
- Energy. Our energy inputs are minimal — mainly electricity for pumping water, and gasoline & diesel fuel for occasional use of tractors, line trimmers.
- Wildlife. We encourage habitat for deer, quail, jackrabbits, coyotes, and many resident and migratory birds.
- Fire prevention. As residents of the City of Auburn, we are concerned about fuel management in our undeveloped land, and are working to reduce the risk of wildfire by brush cutting and chipping. However, this must be balanced with the need to maintain wildlife habitat.
We are excited to see that our community is so supportive and enthusiastic about local, organic, earth-friendly agriculture — it isn’t always easy, especially with the added challenge of managing our land organically, but knowing that so many people are “on board” with our efforts makes all the difference! Thank you for your support of our “little family farm that could”!