California Heartland Episode 904 Transcript

California Heartland is made possible by The James G. Boswell Foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers.  Bank of America, bank of opportunity.  Funding provided in part by, The California Farm Bureau Federation, proud publishers of “California Country” magazine.  More information is available at

Coming up…

There is no law defining who owns this fruit.

It’s a mission to turn “fallen fruit” into food!
Meet the men scouring L.A. for free apples and avocados—all in an effort to stop waste.  And…

We didn't have no hope out here. But I see we do have hope.

Welcome to Alemany farms.  A garden planted in a troubled San Francisco neighborhood is taking a bite ---out of crime. Plus…

What’s one of the best reasons to live in California? Citrus, of course!

But you don’t need an orchard to grow your own oranges! Tips on planting citrus trees—in containers!

It’s all next on California Heartland!

Chris Burrous: From your backyard, to the back country, in a field, or on your family table, it’s all about what keeps California moving and growing, this is California Heartland.

Jennifer Johnson: This is a part of Sunset Boulevard you don’t typically see in the movies.  Closer to downtown than tinsel town, these urban sidewalks are probably the last place you’d look for beautiful produce. Well think again, and take notice.

Mattias Viegener: Hi, I’m Mattias, how did you hear about us?

Girl: The L.A. times.

Mattias Viegener: Cool.

Girl: Actually I was looking online for a car…and I found you.

Mattias Viegener: You were looking for a car and you found us? Ok.

Jennifer Johnson: At least, that’s what the guys from the project known as “fallen fruit” want you to do.  They’re helping change people’s perceptions of available crops in the city.

David Burns: The thing that’s really surprising to people living in Los Angeles are how many fruit trees there are.

Mattias Viegener: Avocados, figs, loquats and a lot of citrus. 

David Burns: So in this neighborhood we’re walking through, there’s over 200 in 8 city blocks, and year round every week of the year there’s ripe fruit, ripe produce for free.  Organic, delicious, perfect.

Jennifer Johnson: Today David Burns and Mattias Viegener are leading a public fruit tour in Los Angeles. Not only do they “talk the talk”…

Mattias Viegener: This whole vine over here, it’s a passion fruit. 

Jennifer Johnson: They “walk the walk”... Literally --to find the best fruit money can’t buy

Jennifer Johnson: You brought us two kinds of exotic fruits that you would find on this tour?

Mattias Viegener: Yes, these are loquats which you see everywhere in L.A. growing and these we see very rarely are Pilipino limes or calamander oranges, and like kumquats you eat the whole thing.

Jennifer Johnson: Wearing matching jumpsuits and helmets, and using a shopping cart to carry the freshly picked harvest is all part of the duo’s creative and artistic plan to call attention to urban fruit and community activism.

Mattias Viegener: You can see this fruit is hanging over public space; there is no law defining who owns this fruit.

David Burns: There’s a tree down the ally, right down there, about a block away.  Um, probably 40-50 oranges on there.

Lady: Oh, it’s ok. Thank you.

David Burns: Ha ha alright, well anyways your welcome, I’m David.  Good to meet you.

David Burns: People don’t realize that fruit is a symbol that crosses almost every cultural and social boundary.  And it’s where we all have common ground.

David Burns: It’s really sweet and they’re really good.

Jennifer Johnson: It’s this neighborhood connection that leads David and Mattias to encourage people to get out and hunt for fruit. They even provide their own hand drawn maps to help make it easier.  

Girl: Where are we right now?

David Burns: We are at your house, so right down the street from you is a lemon tree, and it’s completely public.

Girl: Really? On Sandborn.  And it’s free?

Girl: No way!

David Burns: Absolutely.

David Burns: What is really nice is that people change the way they consider walking down the street in L.A., they change the way they think about meeting someone they don’t know, that it’s ok to talk to people and ask questions.

Mattias Viegener: What we’re really interested in, is a way of living where you don’t separate life in the city from live in the country.  That it’s all wrapped up in one, and you live with your food and near your food and you have an intimate daily relationship with your food. 

Jennifer Johnson: And reconsidering what to do with the fruit beyond eating it ripe off the vine led these men to re-discover a timeless tradition.

Mattias Viegener: Alright, so we’re making Jam.

David Burns: You take the sour oranges.

Mattias Viegener: Great, because the sour oranges have a lot of…seeds! 

Mattias Viegener: We do these public jams, right, where we get all the people from the city and we all get them to bring fruit and they all make jam together.  Getting people out of their normal patterns and sort of rethink how we could live in our neighborhoods in the city. 

Jennifer Johnson: David and Mattias say their project is more than picking fruit, and bringing a community closer together.  It’s about the importance of fruit trees in an urban space.

Jennifer Johnson: What I thought was interesting was you said that a lot of people will look in their backyard and not even realize there’s an edible fruit tree and you have edible fruit trees right here in this space, on this hill.

Mattias Viegener: Yeah, there’s a huge avocado tree over 50 years old and it leans over here and the first few years I didn’t pick it, but then I thought this is crazy they’re falling, the rats are eating better me than the rats, so that tree is one of the inspirations of Fallen Fruit.

Jennifer Johnson: That inspiration is contagious… especially to Margie Schnibbe, who brought an apricot tree back to life and built a garden in her front yard after going on a Fallen Fruit tour.

Margie Schnibbe: We moved to the house a year ago, we rent the house and it comes as is, but the front yard was filled with trash and it was in a sad state, so after the Fallen Fruit tour I thought wow, this fruit is so cool.  It’s like a gift and I learned from these guys that we have this natural gift on our property and it’s everywhere, we should take care of it, you know?

Jennifer Johnson: There’s no doubt this is changing the way locals view and take care of city fruit trees in this urban L.A. neighborhood.

David Burns: We don’t do this for money of any kind.  We do it because we love it, we do it because it’s important to us, and we look at it kind of like what the fruit tree does.  The fruit tree doesn’t ask anything of the city, it doesn’t ask anything of the person who owns the property, it doesn’t ask anything of the passerby, and actually all that the fruit tree ever does is give back.   

Chris Burrous: The California Pear - a garden snack and a gourmet sensation!  This tear dropped treat is teaming California farmers with a sweet secret to success ... locals now produce one third of the nation’s pears.  Did you know the pear tree rode into the west on covered wagons -headed for the great California Gold Rush?  Well today, California orchards are striking gold - picking more pears than anywhere in the country.  Californians have a passion for pears ... so pair them with your favorite wine - or whip them into the perfect pear puree!  Now here's Laura McIntosh --Bringing It Home with a sweet California pear dessert.

Laura McIntosh: I want to introduce a chef for you, Darren McRonald, hi Darren.

Darren McRonald: Hi. 

Laura McIntosh: The West County Grill here in Sonoma County, he is going to share with us, an actually- slow us down a bit if you will, we're doing small plates.  And that, for me, makes cooking easy, don't you think?

Darren McRonald: I think so.

Laura McIntosh: And this one is all about baking--baking pears.

Laura McIntosh: Show us how to do it.

Darren McRonald: It's really simple.  So, what we have here is we have some—some organic bartlett pears, which are actually from California.

Laura McIntosh: Look at how ripe they are.

Darren McRonald: They are very ripe, and that's probably pretty good for this dish in particular, since we're gonna bake them, and we don't wanna be using under ripe pears.  And I like to get them, whenever possible, with the stem, and if you can get them with a leaf or two on them, that's great.  It's presentation.

Laura McIntosh: Absolutely.

Darren McRonald: We're gonna take the pears.  Pretty wanna cut just a little bit of the bottom off, just enough so that it'll stand up, okay? And then through that side--using a core, paring knife, whatever you'd like--take out the inside.

Darren McRonald: So, we're just gonna do that to all of them.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Darren McRonald: So, then after we have that done, we're gonna take a little tempernillo...and I would say, for six pears, maybe half a bottle would be plenty. Just make sure you get each pear thoroughly wet, because we're gonna pour some sugar over it, and we want the sugar to stick to the pears.

Darren McRonald: So, then we're gonna add a little sugar.  Like I said, just to get a nice glazing on the top.  See how it's sticking like that because of the wine?  That's exactly what you want.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Darren McRonald: We have a couple of spices and a little orange peel we're gonna put in just for a little added flavor.

Laura McIntosh: I didn't know that.

Darren McRonald: So, today we're gonna use cinnamon, and we'll put like two sticks in.  And we have some star anise, but you can use clove, nutmeg, whatever you like, really.  And we'll get a little peel.

Laura McIntosh: So, they're almost sitting in a brine bath.

Darren McRonald: Mm-hmm.

Laura McIntosh: A wine... A wine bath.

Darren McRonald: Yes, a wine bath.

Laura McIntosh: Oh, that smells delicious.

Darren McRonald: So, in the oven we'll go.

Laura McIntosh: Now, again, we have one done for you.  I really want you to see this.  It's beautiful.  This is what it will look like when it comes out of the oven.  And you can see the orange peel.  You can see how nice and brown, with the wine and the coloring, the star anise and the cinnamon. But we're not done yet.

Darren McRonald: You should probably check them about 20 minutes. Once the sugar that we poured over the top starts to caramelize a little bit, we can start basting t that point with the wine.  Take a little wine and pour it over.  And about 40-45 minutes.  I'm sorry; the oven should be at about 375-400.  And they should be done in about 40 minutes.

Laura McIntosh: Perfect.

Darren McRonald: We have some mascarpone that we're gonna make a little mascarpone sauce with for them.  So, we're just gonna take
A little...

Laura McIntosh: Mascarpone. Little cheese.

Darren McRonald: Italian cream cheese.  We're gonna take a little bit...and heavy cream just to thin it out just enough so it's...sort of a pourable consistency.

Laura McIntosh: Alright.

Darren McRonald: You can easily spoon this over, which is exactly what we're gonna do.  You can take a spoon or you can just take the-- the whisk like I have and just kind of put a little like that.

Laura McIntosh: That is beautiful.  Again, look, its small plates, easy to do Darren McRonald, West County Grill in Sebastopol, which is in Sonoma County.  It's the West side.

Darren McRonald: It's west county.

Laura McIntosh: We love your recipes.  Thanks for making our parties fun and easy, but more importantly tasty, too.

Laura McIntosh: Can I? I just gotta, oh man!

Alice Carruthers: This is my home, and I saw so much growing up here.  That at one time, we didn’t think we had no hope out here, but I see we do have hope. 

Toan Lam: It’s called Alemany Farm— a nearly 4 acre   organic oasis… complete with fruits, vegetables and a pond.  The people here simply call it the garden.

Alice Carruthers: My goals and my mission, and my vision, was to slow the crime down.

Toan Lam: It’s one of the most dangerous, crime ridden neighborhoods in San Francisco. 

Juana Richard: There’s been a lot of shooting; I mean a lot of shooting.  When you wake up to gun shots, you don’t know to hit the floor or to run.

Toan Lam: Juana has been living in the community for more than 15 years.  But just outside the confines of this muted green housing project, there’s hope.  Amid the hustle and bustle of busy Interstate 280, just on the other side of this chain linked fence grows a safe haven.  For some, a sanctuary. 

Toan Lam: Alemany is a non-profit, urban farm fueled by grant money, people power and a lot of love. 

Alice Carruthers: At one time it wasn’t nothing but a field.  Like I said, we used to slide of this hill; you know playing because we didn’t have no activities out here. 

Toan Lam: The farm is led by executive director, Alice Carruthers, who knows all to well the vicious cycle this environment creates. 

Alice Carruthers: When we were young as kids coming up, we didn’t have nothing.  You know what I’m saying? It was a time where some mothers out here only had enough food on they tables just for they kids, sometimes mothers they didn’t even eat that much because they was trying to make sure the kids have ate. 

Toan Lam: The farm got its roots in 1991, since then families have been able to get fresh, organic food on the table. 

Alice Carruthers: Strawberries, they sweet…organic.

Toan Lam: All organic?

Alice Carruthers: Everything! Everything is organic. 

Toan Lam: Mmm, it’s really sweet, really.

Toan Lam: The farm also offers the neighborhood kids a safe place to play, work and learn about the environment. 

Kid: Strawberries!

Toan Lam: In exchange the kids get a healthy stipend, all the fresh organic food they can eat.

Toan Lam: How does that taste?

Kid: Good.

Toan Lam: And of course, a lot of support.

Alice Carruthers: I see a lot of changes, you know.  And, I see a lot of motivation in people, and I also see people who leave this community now and go out there and look for work you know.  At one time, everybody was just stuck here in this community. 

Toan Lam: What were you eating before all this organic food?

Bianca Armstrong: Oh- junk!  Haha junk!

Toan Lam: What kind of junk?

Bianca Armstrong: Like chips and candy, I never ever used to eat salad- now I eat salad ever since I’ve been working in the farm.  I was eating a lot of junk.

Toan Lam: I witnessed that growth chatting with Bianca Armstrong, 17 year old mother who lives and works here. 

Bianca Armstrong: Like I got a daughter, so  I feel like, since I’m learning stuff up here, when my daughter grow I could teach her some of the stuff that I’m learning- like I’m changing I’m growing.  I’m experiencing new stuff, so hopefully I can pass that on to my daughter. 

Alice Carruthers: So we see changes, just to better our community, so everyone can get along. 

Kid: I love Alemany Farm!

Juana Richard: This is our Alemany Farm chicken salad, delicious, you should try it. 

Toan Lam: With faith and discipline, Juana believes her children will continue growing in the fields and in life. 

Toan Lam: How’s it taste?

Kid: Good.

Hi I am Spencer Van Ruiten and this is my California Heartland.

It takes a bit of dedication to be out here. 10 hours a day 6 days a week.

One of the hardest parts is lining up with the harvester. When its going and you're going and you can’t get to close and you have to fill up the bank out with out overloading any one part.

When I first started I was pretty nervous. I was afraid I was going to hit something, because it is a little tricky to drive.

It takes a little time to adjust.

I did manage to hit a couple of things, but nothing to serious.

It definitely gets easier as you get older cause you start understanding how the different machinery works. You start noticing he differences in the terrain and how that effects your driving. It definitely gets easier the more you do it.

I enjoy it; it is really hot dirty tiring long hours.

Thanks for hanging out with me and my California Heartland.

Chris Burrous: Pack your bags and grab your boots, it’s time to hit the road, with the Ag Traveler!

Melanie Kim: If you’ve ever been to California’s wine country, you know why people come from all over to visit.  Some of world’s best wine and food wrapped in an incredible atmosphere.  But for those of you wanting a more interactive wine experience, consider touring the Napa Valley like you never have before. 

Melanie Kim: Lance Armstrong’s motivation was the Gallo Jersey, but here in Calistoga, for me it’s getting to the next wine tasting!  Woo!

Melanie Kim: For nearly 18 years, Randy Johnson has been leading visitors through the Napa Valley through bike, kayak and foot.  His company, Getaway Adventures is totally home grown all of their guides are natives to the area and they know their way around a trail and a winery or two.

Randy Johnson: Today we are doing our most popular trip, Sip and Cycle.  Basically a combination of wine tasting, sight seeing and cycling all in one day.  It’s not an epic pace, it’s designed for easy cruising, you know, we’re doing about 16 miles total, 4 or 5 wineries, with lunch in between, lots of rest stops, you know we see things, it’s really designed for the casual cyclist.  Somebody who really wants to enjoy the area. 

Melanie Kim: Sip and Cycle offers day tours from March 1st through November 30th when the weather is best.  

Melanie Kim: And let me tell ya, a fabulous picnic lunch after a few hours on the bike, with the incredible Calistoga landscape as a backdrop makes this workout worth it.

Melanie Kim: There we go! Ready to go wine tasting! Woo! Let’s do it!

Melanie Kim: As Frances Tomacruz and husband, Jonas Ruiz found out, it’s one thing to see wine country; it’s another thing to really feel it. 

Frances Tomacruz: There’s no other way, you’re just one with the environment.  In a car you just pass through, you just see things you don’t really feel it.  But on a bike, you just smell everything, feel the air, it’s just so different. 

Jonas Ruiz: It’s really nice being on a bike, you know when we go to wineries, and you know with a car you don’t really find these places.  Like this, and we love it- I guess we really have immersed ourselves really is the best way to put it.

Melanie Kim: Figuring out quite a nice gig for yourself, look at the benefits! 

Randy Johnson: Well my business card reads professional wine taster so, I’ll tell ya what? That’s the pay off for me.

Melanie Kim: Johnson’s business card should also say teacher, his bike tours include sharing the love of the land and his knowledge of viticulture. 

Randy Johnson: See right here, there’s a growth spur and here’s another growth spur right here- so that keeps it from becoming a big tree.

Melanie Kim: A sort of a wine 101 using, what else? A vineyard as his classroom.

Randy Johnson: What you're looking at behind us is this smudge pot a smudge pot is simply a tool... One of the many tools they use to help control frost problems.

Melanie Kim: Sip n cycle is a fun way to hit the road if you’ve got a thirst for knowledge and good wine and don’t mind working up a little sweat.

Melanie Kim: It's a little guilt free wine tasting cause you get a little bit of a workout... All chime in...

You do you do...

Melanie Kim: Okay were you like me where you actually thought you were sipping while you were cycling.

Jonas Ruiz: Probably wouldn't make it home in one piece.

Melanie Kim: Just a few of the wineries you’ll visit along the way- Bennett Lane Winery, Envy Estate Winery and Chateau Montelena.  And if you’re looking to extend your trip-and maybe rest your sore feet—head over to Chilies Valley where there’s a beautiful bed and breakfast called Rustridge Ranch and Winery…It’s also a racehorse ranch.

Susan Fresquez: So at first when they get here they don’t know what to do, cause all of a sudden life just sort of stands still and by the next morning, they’re sitting out on the deck and they’re totally relaxed. 

Melanie Kim: Giving up the courtroom for the kitchen, this former lawyer now shares her love for wine with her guests. 

Susan Fresquez: And because our whole race horsing connection we have a wine called race horse white and race horse red.

Jim Fresquez: I took a job with Buster Miller who was the original trainer, the real trainer that Hollywood did a mention to- Sea biscuit.  And so I worked for him and became his assistant trainer, and exercise writer.

Melanie Kim: One highlight of his horseracing resume, now Jim Fresquez splits his time between training race horses and training grape vines.  At Rustridge, Jim and Susan’s passions have come together to create the perfect blend.  Award winning wines and happy guests. 

G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski: In California, we call this volatilizing your esters, whoa what a fancy name that is but what we’re talking about is simply swirling the wine, releasing the aromas and the esters and our nose picks it up as smell.  So, we swirl the wine, put our nose in it, close our eyes and it looks like this…and I slowly move it away from you and I try to capture what is it that I’m smelling.  Is it the apples, is it the pear, maybe it’s a sauvignon blanc, maybe I’m getting a grassiness- But, this is what I’m looking for when I’m smelling a wine here in California.

Chris Burrous: Everyone’s a farmer when it comes to their own backyard; try these tips on doing it Home Grown.

Fred Hoffman: What’s one of the best reasons to live in California? Citrus of course.  Lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit- they’re all great, they all do wonderful in California.  And even if all you have is a sunny patio, you can grow citrus in containers.  Now, where on you patio should you plant citrus in containers, well come on let me show you.

Fred Hoffman: Where should you plant a containerized citrus, how about a sunny patio?  In fact, that could be the best spot.  An old fruit grower once told me, plant citrus where the cat sleeps…and what cat doesn’t like sleeping on a nice warm patio?  When you go shopping for citrus, all the varieties available, the choice is up to you.  What I would make a recommendation on though, is buy it in the smallest container they have, this is a 5 gallon container.  It’s going to save you a lot of money over buying it in a 15 gallon container, now you want to buy some bigger containers, some fancier ones to put it in when you get home.  Let’s go look at some. 

Fred Hoffman: What kind of container should you be looking for when you go to step up in size?  Well, you may have some lying around the house, like this 15 gallon black container…not a bad choice just make sure it has good drain holes.  Same is true for something a little more fancier, like this foam pot, just make sure again that it does have drain holes.  But for the ultimate in containerized citrus, eventually you’re going to want to plant it in this- a half barrel.  Half barrels are wonderful looking, but they need drain holes, they don’t come with drain holes, and that’s why I have a drill and I would advise putting in at least 4 drain holes in the bottom of this half barrel.  Use a wood boring drill bit about 3 quarters of an inch, so let’s start drilling.

Fred Hoffman: We’ve got five nice 3 quarter inch drain holes in our oak barrel; now I think it’s time to plant our citrus.

Fred Hoffman: This citrus in a 5 gallon plastic black container can stay in this container for up to 2 years before it needs to be repotted into a slightly larger container.  But if you have a nice patio, do you really want to stare at a plastic black container.  I didn’t think so- so why not take this tree container and all and place it into our oak barrel, just like that and surround it with mulch so you can’t see the black plastic pot.  Then after two years you can put it into a bigger pot, and put the mulch into the half barrel and nobody would know the difference.  So, let’s go get some mulch.

Fred Hoffman: Let’s talk about watering and fertilizing your citrus tree, in the summer time, this tree, because it’s in a container may need to get watered everyday.  Are you gonna’ be home everyday in the summer to do that, probably not.  So you may want to set up an automatic watering system, like a drip irrigation system with this mini sprinkler.  How about feeding this tree? Since you’re watering so often, because it needs to get watered regularly, it needs to get fed regularly because the fertilizer is going to get leeched out of the soil every time you water.  So you can use a citrus food like this, or a liquid fertilizer, it doesn’t matter.  The key though, cut the dosage in half, and apply it twice as often- that way your tree always has a regular supply of food.

Fred Hoffman: A lot of people say, Oh I can’t have a citrus tree, they get too big- I’ve got news for you, you can prune a citrus tree to keep it at any height you’d like.  Pruning time for citrus, anytime during the spring or summer, and you can keep the tree at the height you want.  Easy to take care of, easy to enjoy, there’s no reason, if you live here in California, not to have citrus.  Plant one today.

Chris Burrous: That’s California Heartland, for more information on any of these stories go to I’m Chris Burrous see you next time.

To order a copy of this show, visit us online or call 1-888-814-3923 the cost is $14.95 plus shipping

California Heartland is made possible by The James G. Boswell Foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers.  Bank of America, bank of opportunity.  Funding provided in part by, The California Farm Bureau Federation, proud publishers of “California Country” magazine.  More information is available at