Lately Jeremy and I have been talking about our dream of one day owning and running an organic farm. We’ve discussed the types of animals that would live in the barn, the food we’d grow and how our dogs would really love running around lots of land. So we decided to spend last Sunday visiting a functioning organic farm.
We drove the thirty minutes or so to get to Tanaka Farm in Irvine without much traffic (if you aren’t from around here just know it’s something worth noting). The farm is family run by Farmer Tanaka who is a third generation farmer with 100 years of family farming experience. Driving onto the 30 acre farm we caught a glimpse of the produce stand, fields and tractor wagons. I was pretty excited for the tractor wagon ride.
Being that it is the end of summer we took the one hour watermelon tour which includes a wagon ride tour of the farm and a watermelon to take home. One of the first things we were taught is the difference between fruits and vegetables. Fruit have seeds inside while veggies don’t. Our tour guide pointed out that most of what we call veggies are actually fruits like cucumbers, avocados and of course tomatoes.
Since all of what is farmed is organic, it is safe to eat right when it is picked. That’s good stuff since we got to taste a total of 10 fruits and vegetables on our tour. First were carrots, cherry tomatoes and green beans; all very delicious. We ate super sweet corn which was everyone’s favorite tasting of the day.
Aside from seeing where these yummy veggies and fruits were being grown we saw the nursery and green house were their seedlings are kept for a few weeks before being planted in the fields. There were fruit trees up on a hill that included apples, oranges, bananas and some stone fruits like plum and apricot.
Our final destination on the farm was one of their tour amphitheatres – a tent with hay in the shade to sit on. Our tour guide cut up fresh yellow squash, zucchini and cucumber which were all crisp and delicious. Next we had Saticoy which I had never had before. It pretty much looks like a cantaloupe but is much sweeter. I’m not a big fan of cantaloupe but I did like the Saticoy very much.
Our last two tastings were the messiest yet the best! Don’t worry we got wipes to clean up after. First up was red watermelon which was very tasty. Watermelon is one of my favorite things to eat so I did help myself to two slices. After we got to try yellow watermelon which is another fruit I had never had. From the outside the watermelon looks pretty much the same as a red watermelon but once cut up the inside is bright yellow, almost the same color as a ripe pineapple. It is sweeter than a red watermelon but tastes a little bit like pumpkin. Sounds a little weird, right? But it was good!
After wandering through the watermelon fields we got to pick our watermelon to take home. Our tour guide let us in on a little secret – if you take the watermelon and slice it in half and then stick them in the freezer, the next day you will pretty much have the best shaved ice ever. I cannot wait to try this, because I do love watermelon and a good slushee.
As the tour came to an end we passed some cottonwood trees. Those are planted to attract natural polleners to the fields. Our tour guide also let us know about the Pumpkin Tours which start up in October which include awesome festivities like a pumpkin cannon, corn maze, petting zoo and more yummy veggies for the pickin’. There will also be a pumpkin contest. Don’t worry, I already gave my pumpkins a pep talk letting them know they will be entered, so they better make me proud!
Our last stop was the produce stand which offered freshly baked bread, sweet breads, strawberry jelly made at the farm and of course fruits and veggies. Tanaka Farms is also part of the Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) and had their small boxes for sale. The CSA program delivers fresh produce from the farm to you via delivery or drop off locations.
Oh, and if you visit, be sure to go hungry! The fruit and veggie tastings were one of the best snacks we’ve had in a while.
5380 University Dr
Irvine, CA 92612