saturday pastoral at suzie’s farm

by Stacy

Friday morning, my friend, Angela, flew in to San Diego to spend the long weekend. We’ve known each other since junior high and have stayed close all these years. We had a busy weekend of seeing the sights, so this will be spread out over several posts to avoid having a million photos all at once.

Angela participates in a CSA program in Minnesota, so when we were planning the weekend’s activities, I mentioned that my CSA was offering a farm tour on Saturday morning if she was interested. Considering that her last local produce was winter squash in October, she was more than willing to check out some fresh veggies in February.

kiki town at suzie's farm

So we found ourselves making the just-under-30-mile trek to Suzie’s Farm, just north of the Mexican border. Along with maybe a dozen or so other people, we walked around the 40 acres that make up their Kiki Town property. The produce is all organically farmed without pesticides or chemicals. To prevent weeds and pests, many rows are covered with black plastic “mulch” as you can see in the next photo, as explained by Shannon, our tour guide.

shannon, our tour guide

They also avoid mono-cultures by alternating the rows of crops so that pests or disease can’t destroy an entire field of similar plants. It’s a newer property for them, so they mark all the rows and then track what does well in which areas.

The CSA has about 150 members in the San Diego area and sells produce at the multitude of neighborhood farmer’s markets. The farm also grows crops specifically for several local restaurants. I was surprised that most of the people on the tour were not CSA members.

a row of carrots

The little boys with the tour were quite disappointed that these carrots weren’t ready to be harvested. They did “help” me harvest some cilantro, though.

As part of the tour we each got to fill a bag with produce. Angela and I were judicious with our selections as I picked up our CSA share a few days later. Even so, Angela couldn’t resist spending a little time in the vines harvesting crisp snow peas.

harvesting snow peas

We saw newly-planted rows, mid-sized crops, and then harvested some ripe vegetables. The tour was wrapping up when Shannon pointed out the rows and rows of strawberry plants. They had just harvested the first crop the day before, so there were just a few green berries visible.

We were a little disappointed that there weren’t any to take home until she told us that strawberries with any red on them would continue ripening after being picked. Large farms use ethylene gas to superficially force unripe (therefore firm and easier to transport) tomatoes and strawberries to turn red, but inside they’re still white. Worth a shot!


The tops of many are still white. Two days later? Beautifully red and sweet. They tasted like they had been dipped in sugar and sunshine. Local strawberries in February. Huh.

Despite taking care not to get too excited with our harvesting, it was fun to pick our own veggies. This is what we ended up taking home:

our farm tour haul

The celery was a snack that evening. The lacinato kale and snap peas went into dinner the next night. The butter lettuce was tender in sandwiches on Monday, and the broccoli went into soup last night.

This was Saturday. Tuesday evening I picked up our CSA share (we renewed for a second quarter, so we’ll get one box every other week for 12 weeks) and my fridge is stuffed full of produce. This entry is long enough that I will post the CSA share separately.

Bordered by a beach community and the Tijuana River Valley (not where their water comes from, by the way), it’s not quite like a Midwestern farm. It was also almost 80 degrees by the time we left! It was fun to see where our food grows, but I must say my favorite part was seeing the little boys on the tour get excited about vegetables. How often do you get to hear four-year-olds complain that they didn’t get enough carrots?

If you’re in the San Diego area and interested in joining the CSA, check out their info page. If you join in February, you’ll get a bonus week free!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

WhiteStone February 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm

I am definitely jealous! Oh, it all looks so good!


stacy February 17, 2010 at 10:15 pm

I still have to remind myself that it’s February, but I can’t say I miss scraping snow off my car yet!


Angela February 17, 2010 at 7:35 pm

I totally ate all my strawberries tonight. They tasted like sunshine.


stacy February 17, 2010 at 10:13 pm



Birch February 18, 2010 at 7:03 am

Reminds me of our CSA farm tours. Even to the plastic mulch. DO they cover the squash with fabric to keep the squash bugs down, or is that a midwestern thing? (Did you know in IL anything not corn or soybeans is considered a “specialty” crop?)

And yeah, I loved watching little kids eating cucumber like corn-on-the-cob and tomatoes just off the vine. Seriously, if you want kids to eat veggies, grow them.


stacy February 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I did not see any squash at the moment. They apparently just rented another 18 acres for summer planting, though, and they do have another property where they grow the tomatoes and sprouts and such. They have volunteer opportunities (“Plz come weed our farm, kthx.”) on weekends, so I may go back for one of those days just for fun. If so, I will ask about squash. (And while that’s a bit sad, it’s not surprising. Have you guys seen Food Inc yet?)

Seriously. It was really refreshing, especially after we spent the next day at the zoo watching chubby kids eating fast food, which made me sad.


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