California Heartland Episode 908 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 on California Heartland…

I had poor soil, I had very little space and I’m thinking, you can't grow a diet on a fraction of an acreage in the city.

Meet the Pasadena family whose path to healthy living transformed their yard into a successful urban farm


Looking at the gardens now, they almost look like they did over a hundred years ago.

Visit a garden as notorious as the criminals who planted it!  It’s the softer side of the rock, in full bloom at Alcatraz!

Trees can do it all. They add value to your home, they lower your electric costs.

Plus, why planting a tree on one side of your yard can save you hundreds of dollars.

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.

Jules Dervaes: This is the tool of choice, labor intensive but I don't consider it work.

Jennifer Quinonez: His own two hands in the soil, that’s the way Jules Dervaes likes it.  Feeling the crop he’s created on land no one thought was farmable, except for him.

Jules Dervaes: My tool is a trowel. That doesn't take up much space and my feet walk down between the beds and the front yard and you don't need that much space.

Jennifer Quinonez: Space or lack there of, is the challenge for Dervaes because he lives on a residential street with no room to grow, a mile from the busy streets and freeways of Pasadena.

Jennifer Quinonez: This city farmer is now doing the unusual.  He’s making a living off of his garden and turning his small suburban lawn into to a lush cornucopia.

Jules Dervaes: When I started this project it was basically for me a hobby.  But, I got serious about it when the genetically modified foods came out.  Plus, the food in Pasadena was costing a lot. 

Anais Dervaes: Hey Jordie, here come the greens.  Duck duck duck!!

Jennifer Quinonez: For the last eight years, Dervaes and his three children, Anais, Justin and Jordan have challenged themselves to produce an abundance of food on one-tenth of an acre.

Anais Dervaes: So far we've produced annually 6,000 pounds, or 3 tons of food. And this year we're challenging ourselves to grow 10,000, “grow for 10” we're calling it and we're trying to get 10,000 on our little urban farm here.

Jennifer Quinonez: That’s right, three tons of food created on less than an acre.  To do this, both the front and backyards are used to grow 350 varieties of organic fruits and vegetables which the family sells to restaurants and catering companies.

Jules Dervaes: I never thought we'd have a surplus.  It was nice enough to feed your family, but when it kicks in we were amazed at how much we produced here.  We could actually make money in the city as farmers, which is an amazing feat to think you could be farming in the city on micro-acreage.

Jennifer Quinonez: To some this is just a micro-farm, but Jules claims this is a homegrown revolution and dubs him and his family, “eco-pioneers.”  They even call what they do on the farm, “a path to freedom” because his family is taking strides towards self-sufficiency.

Anais Dervaes: So, you’re going to get the eggs then?

Jordan Dervaes: Yeah, I am gonna’ get the eggs.

Jordan Dervaes: My dad's my inspiration; he's somebody I really would love to follow in his foot steps because he's made quite a difference.  I thank him everyday for what he’s done for me as a child.  This is not something my father told me to do; he put me on the right path.

Jennifer Quinonez: That path led them to find new techniques to fit into their lifestyle, like creating bio-diesel for their pick up truck.

Justin Dervaes: We drive less than 4,000 miles a year, so we use 30 gallons a month.  So, that’s all I have to make.

Jennifer Quinonez: But turning around their under used, urban space was plagued with problems. 

Jules Dervaes: I looked at what I had. What I had scared me. I had poor soil, I had very little space and I’m thinking, you can't grow a diet on a fraction of an acreage in the city.  The location was in the midst of a city and I just couldn’t believe I could do that.  But I was determined that I should give it a good try.

Justin Dervaes: I thank my dad; he did the front yard back in the 90's.  He mulched it and I guess we thought he was a little nuts, but now I love what I’m doing and I hope I’m doing this the rest of my life.

Jennifer Quinonez: Dervaes says looking back at previous generations has helped him become a smarter farmer.

Jules Dervaes: This is changing my attitude of how much you can grow in such a little space. There are techniques that you forget about, that people had kitchen gardens forever, food outside your backdoor.  We can't grow wheat fields but we can but a dent in our food bill by growing as many fruits and veggies as we can.

Anais Dervaes: We feel empowered to know that with these two hands, we can make a life here on this earth. And we were put her to be stewards, so in a sense it’s our responsibility.

Jennifer Quinonez: For these urbanites, their path to freedom has begun.  And for the proud father leading the way, making his organic oasis in the city is the best way to ensure a better tomorrow. 

Jules Dervaes: When you do something worthwhile and you're on a mission, if you challenge yourself, the good works and good actions will come out and be evident. Then change will happen all over.

Chris Burrous: Did you know that the cornish game hen was developed back in the late 1950’s?

Chris Burrous: The young chicken is the result of a crossbreeding with various other chickens.

Chris Burrous: They’re mostly white meat and weigh less than 2 pounds.  Not only do the hens taste great, they’re healthy too.  Each hen is loaded with 51 grams of protein and has only 295 calories.

Chris Burrous: Food and lifestyle expert Laura McIntosh serves up a delicious stuffed cornish game hen with a guest chef from hawks restaurant.

Laura McIntosh: Well thanks everyone for joining us back, Michael is up next.  He is going to cook a great recipe, cornish game hen.  We like to do a lot with birds, but this is actually a cornish game hen.

Michael Fagnoni: It is.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.

Laura McIntosh: To start this recipe Michael, what do we do?

Michael Fagnoni: Well, we’re going to start by hitting up some olive oil. 

Laura McIntosh: Turn up the fire a little bit, we got to turn up the heat, we’re cookin’!

Michael Fagnoni: That’s right.

Michael Fagnoni: And we’re gonna’ start by adding some garlic.

Laura McIntosh: Okay.  And we love garlic, garlic is flavor. 

Michael Fagnoni: So I’m just going to get that going real quick, and we’re just going to add the rest of our ingredients.  Some nice chopped onion.

Laura McIntosh: Okay, now this is, actually you guys, this is a stuffed…

Michael Fagnoni: A stuffed cornish game hen, yep.  We’re making a walnut bread stuffing.

Laura McIntosh: Yeah, I like that a walnut bread stuffing.

Michael Fagnoni: And right now, we’re sweating out the aromatic ingredients. 

Laura McIntosh: And sweating it, we don’t want to caramelize it or brown it.  We just want to sweat it, correct?

Michael Fagnoni: That’s right; we want to cook it with no color.

Laura McIntosh: Cook it with no color, ok.

Michael Fagnoni: Okay and we’ll add our celery.  I’ll get you a little salt and pepper here.

Laura McIntosh: Okay and do you always add salt and pepper as you go Michael? 

Michael Fagnoni: Yeah we like to season in layers, so everything is nice and even when you’re done. 

Laura McIntosh: Okay great.

Michael Fagnoni: Okay so we’ll let that cook for about five minutes.  Um, on a nice low heat and then we’re gonna’ add our croutons.  And so to that, we’re gonna’ add a little bit of chicken stock.  We just want to moisten it, we don’t want everything to get soggy, we want it to be nice and moist. 

Laura McIntosh: Well it smells delicious so far.

Michael Fagnoni: We’re gonna’ let this cook for about five minutes or so. 

Laura McIntosh: Okay, so that’s our stuffing, correct?

Michael Fagnoni: That’s right.  So, we’ll come over to our bird and let me just put on a glove real quick.

Laura McIntosh: Oh yes, you really do need to be carful in the kitchen, wear your gloves.  Or, if you’re doing this at home wash your hands guys, make sure you’re washing those hands.

Laura McIntosh: Tell me when.

Michael Fagnoni: That looks good, this will ensure that we get a nice crispy skin.  Put a little oil on it. 

Laura McIntosh: A little pepper?

Michael Fagnoni: Just grind a little bit of pepper. 

Laura McIntosh: I like lots of pepper, I probably shouldn’t but okay.

Michael Fagnoni: A little bit of salt.

Laura McIntosh: Wha-la, you get to do the honors.

Michael Fagnoni: Alrighty, if you would just put that down.

Laura McIntosh: Yeah, you get to stuff.

Michael Fagnoni: I don’t see a problem with that.

Laura McIntosh: Okay good, so we stuffed that and put in the oven.  We’re putting this in the oven for…

Michael Fagnoni: About 35 minutes.  We’ll start it at 400 degrees and then we’ll bring it down to about 325. 

Laura McIntosh: Alright, and we have one all ready to go.

Michael Fagnoni: We do!

Laura McIntosh: Let’s take it out, let’s show them.

Michael Fagnoni: Here we go.

Laura McIntosh: Ah look at that.  Ah that’s gorgeous, yeah that’s what we want.  Absolutely beautiful, and you’re gonna’ cut this for me.

Michael Fagnoni: You bet.

Laura McIntosh: Because at the end of the day, I want to see what it looks like inside.

Michael Fagnoni: Okay, we’ll just separate the legs.  You just want to cut into the thigh on both sides, and we like to separate the thigh joints, and now it’s nice and stable.  So if you just go down the breast bone, soft slices, you get a nice breast. 

Laura McIntosh: Oh that’s so juicy.

Michael Fagnoni: I’ll just take one of the legs off for you.  So that’s half of your game hen, it’s good for one order.  I’m just going to scoop out some of the stuffing, it’s really rich with the juices from the game hen. 

Laura McIntosh:  Now in this stuffing you brought it out, there’s a few herbs in here. 

Michael Fagnoni: Yeah, we like to put a little sage and parsley in it as well.

Laura McIntosh: Okay and that’s done on the stovetop.

Michael Fagnoni: That’s correct, right at the end right before you stuff the bird you want to put the herbs in.

Laura McIntosh: An easy dish for you to do tonight, thank you Michael it looks terrific. 

Michael Fagnoni: Thanks.

Laura McIntosh: Fun and easy to do and nice and fresh. 

I’m Caroline VanRuiten and welcome to my California Heartland.  Today I’m planting herbs in my garden and we have garlic chives and peppermint and sweet basil, which I use just because I love the smell of it.  When I plant herbs, I cultivate the soil because it’s easier for the plants to get nutrition.  In that herb garden, we use all of that stuff in the kitchen.  But I also have a flower garden that we use to help decorate the kitchen because all the flowers are blooming.  And so right now, I’m planting some flowers.  The most important thing when you’re planting a tree, flower, bush, whatever you’re planting is lots of water and sunlight to produce photosynthesis.  When I’m frowning I just look at a flower and it makes me smile, because I love just watching things grow.  Thank you for coming to my California Heartland, bye!

Chris Burrous: Working with cows on a dairy farm everyday, may not seem like the most glamorous of jobs.  But this 26 year old begs to differ.  In fact she left a high profile journalism job, for a gig on a cheese farm.  Meet Mandy Johnston, an up and coming artisan cheese maker, who traded her magazine editor byline for a new one, at the Pedrozo Dairy and Cheese Company, her family’s farm.

Mandy Johnston: Right now, I probably thought I’d be, maybe at a higher level magazine somewhere, maybe an editor somewhere.  I don't know if it'd be in California or maybe New York.  Coming back to be an unstable farmer, you know cheese maker is a little different.

Chris Burrous: But when Mandy’s mom, the original family cheese maker, decided to go back to teaching and her dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer, her calling became clear.  Mandy and her boyfriend John decided to step in to keep the dairy alive.

Mandy Johnston: I just needed to find my own way back here, I don't want to say it was up to fate, but  it sure feels like had been  primed for coming back and I just didn't know it until I got here.

Chris Burrous: Coming back didn’t take much convicting.  Just the thought of selling the farm and Mandy and John were on board.

Tim Pedrozo: I didn't think Mandy would come back to work on the farm because we had mentioned it to her before and she just sort of blew us off.  And then when we got thinking about possibly retiring, she said no you can't do that I want to take over.

Mandy Johnston: I never thought that I would be the family cheese maker! (laughs)

John Pearson: It's like so out of my world to think that I would be milking cows and making cheese and talking about what my soil content was and how the cows were grazing and how much they were producing.  I love it.

Chris Burrous: And three years later the family is now producing nearly 18,000 pounds of cheese each year.

Mandy Johnston: So this is my favorite part, my mom calls it herding the curd.

Chris Burrous: The Pedrozo Dairy produces several different varieties of cheese that sell in local stores and farmer’s markets.

Mandy Johnston: Have you had our cheese before?

Customer: I don’t know, I guess I haven’t.

Mandy Johnston: Ok, this is our Northern Gold, it’s raw cow milk cheese we make on our dairy…

Mandy Johnston: We make about nine varieties of cheese, but they all start with the basic Northern Gold recipe, it’s an old world style mix between a gouda and a cheddar.  And we have a smaller wheel that’s a variety of a Northern Gold, but it’s a two pound wheel that’s called Blondie’s Best and it’s named after my cow.  Those two pound wheels, sometimes we'll take and soak in red wine and that's called tipsy cow the one we soak in beer is Sierra Nevada Stout and is called stout cow.  And then I make one seasonally I soak in sparkling rose and that's called bubbly cow.

Chris Burrous: But it’s not just wine and beer that make this cheese stand out; it’s the family collaboration, happy cows and a love for what they do.

Tim Pedrozo: Definitely the pasture and the grass will definitely influence the cheese.  It's probably the most influential part of the cheese because what the cows eat it’s going to give the cheese the flavor that it has.

Mandy Johnston: I think that the way that our cows live, the life that they have absolutely corresponds to the value of our cheese.

Chris Burrous: It’s the passion for their cheese and new lifestyle that makes this dynamic duo successful dairy farmers.

Mandy Johnston: My life has changed a lot since I’ve come back, I think I’m just so excited about where this could all go.  I mean I wouldn’t be so driven if it wasn’t something I totally believed in. 

John Pearson: I could never go back to another kind of lifestyle.  This is this is I think what I am supposed to be doing.

Chris Burrous: Clearly this creative, young, couple met their match and are now ready to make some waves in cheese making.  And after a long day, knee deep in curds and whey, Mandy’s still enthusiastic.

Mandy Johnston: My favorite part about being a cheese maker is being able to say that if am cheese maker! There's not many people who can say that and you know we can go out to eat and order and someone will say, well what do you do and they would never expect me to come back with, well, I am a cheese maker.

Chris Burrous: Someday maybe she’ll write about it or publish her own magazine about the industry.  But for now she’s happy with the headline, “journalist turns cheese maker!”

Mandy Johnston: That's kind of fun, it's a neat title to have.

Heston Nunes: I am here with the Dairy Council of California and this is my Mobile dairy classroom. The tradition started in the 1930’s by two dairy men.  They started taking cows around to schools because they realized “then” that kids that live in urban areas have no idea where milk comes from.

Heston Nunes: Let’s see if she’s awake.

Heston Nunes: They get a big kick first out of seeing the cow. Most of them have never seen a cow in their life, especially up this close.

Massio Love: I t was exciting…The color and when it was looking around it was shaking a little.

Elena Mendoza: I learned how to squeeze the milk out… Um the cowboy I think he just said you grab a thumb and just do it one by one like that.

Ryan Thomas: You can make a lot of stuff with milk, like cheese and yogurt ice cream and different kinds of stuff.

Heston Nunes: Why do kids need to know this? So they know that food does not come from the grocery store, hat there are actually people helping animals produce their food. You know, that it actually does not just show up at a grocery store magically and what an important role it plays in their nutrition.  And then at the end they get to pet a calf, and that’s something special. 

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

Melanie Kim: San Francisco is one of the world’s top tourist destinations.  But while you might go for the bright lights and big city, why not green up your trip by adding a few attractions Mother Nature wants added to your itinerary.

Melanie Kim: Walking the city sidewalks doesn’t have to be all about concrete, steel and glass.  There are many rooftop gardens waiting for you to explore and finding them can be a fun adventure.

Rick Evans: You’re probably wondering, first of all, why you’ve never seen these before.  They are hidden and nobody knows that they’re even here. 

Melanie Kim: An architectural walking tour called, My Favorite City Tours, brings you toe to toe with San Francisco’s unique, urban, horticulture scene. 

Rick Evans: These are called, Popos- Privately owned public open parks.  Very much a contradiction of being private and public, but they’re here due to a San Francisco zoning law that says anytime there is any new construction, any new remodeling or addition to any new building, you need to provide something back to the public in terms of open space.  Now, a part of that mandate though is that- and why they’re hidden, is because they don’t have to market them. 

Melissa Lucey: I never would have imagined that there's all this space just to kind of enjoy and relax within this bustling downtown area.

Melanie Kim: These gardens are a great place to enjoy lunch, relax a bit or even get philosophical.

Lori McCleese: Everything is connected and that by honoring and recognizing the nature, the growth and the plants, you're honoring yourself.

Rick Evans: We’re all so busy running around.  Right in front of us we have these little treasures that we can discover if we stop for a minute and look and take it all in. 

Melanie Kim: The two hour walking tour covers one mile of city blocks packed with plants and places you’ll never forget. 

Melanie Kim: And for our next stop on our San Francisco Ag tour, behind that fog over there a famous rock.

Melanie Kim: Just a quick boat ride brings you to one of San Francisco’s most beautiful and unexpected gardens.

Melanie Kim: The crowds come to Alcatraz to see the prison, especially the cell block that housed federal prisoners, like Al Capone.  Quite a stark contrast to this, the historic gardens of Alcatraz…Which are being restored by volunteers of the garden conservancy,
After 30 years of neglect.

Rich Weideman: Just a couple of years ago, before the restoration from the garden conservancy it didn't have the cultural look that it should have had from the 1850’s where everything was very well tended by the officers and their families.

Melanie Kim: As Rich Weideman tells us, the rock’s garden actually dates back to the civil war era when Alcatraz was first used as an army fort. 

Melanie Kim: From succulents to cala lillys, artichokes and roses, every plant here exists due to human intervention.

Rich Weideman: This restoration has transformed Alcatraz.  Looking at the gardens now they almost look like they did over a hundred years ago.

Melanie Kim: It’s a one of a kind garden tour you’ll remember for life!

Melanie Kim: From one famous San Francisco landmark to another.  A place where you can get farm fresh food right in the city.

Melanie Kim: This is the newly refurbished ferry building…

Melanie Kim: Here you’ll find California’s agriculture proudly showcased.

Melanie Kim: You can sample and buy the freshest California produce… olive oil, caviar, even fungi!

Ian Garron: We grow eight varieties at our farm, but the store sees somewhere close to 70 or 80 varieties.  

Bianca Maresch: I just love the ferry building you know everything is fresh, you gotta’ support that.

Melanie Kim: San Francisco, it’s a big bustling city but if you plan your visit right it really starts to grow on you!

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

Fred Hoffman: You know I can’t think of a better investment for your home, your pocket and your family’s health than planting a tree.

Fred Hoffman: If you’re thinking of a home improvement project to improve the resale value of your house, well before you start remodeling that bathroom or the kitchen- consider this.  For every tree you put in your front yard, the value of your home just went up 500 dollars.  In fact, a well maintained landscape with full grown shade trees can add up to as much as 7% to the value of your property.  And if you want to save money in the meantime, think about this.  Planting shade trees on the west side and the south side of your house, can cut your cooling cost up to 40%.  And as far as the health of your family goes, what’s better than healthy eating from a fruit tree.

Fred Hoffman: At the nursery, look for the healthiest tree possible in the smallest container possible.  Take a look at the trunk, make sure there are no wounds along the trunk line, and make sure that’s healthy.  Check the leaves- check the underside of the leaves for insect problems or things like this which would indicate over watering.  Or, possible pest infestations or disease infestations if you see spotting on the leaves.  Again, you’d want to bypass a tree like that.   Also, check the color of the leaf; make sure it’s a healthy green.  So when you go shopping, you’re looking for healthy green leaves, a good healthy trunk and a root system that isn’t girdling the root ball.  And this orange tree, it looks like a winner.

Fred Hoffman: Well we’ve picked the healthiest fruit tree we found at the nursery and now we’re going to plant it.  But, the key is putting it in the right place.  This citrus, a cara cara orange likes full sun, not a problem here.

Fred Hoffman: We can start spreading out the roots, so just gently with your fingers spread the roots out around the pedestal to give the roots a chance to spread out.  Roots don’t grow down, they grow out.  All we’re gonna’ back fill with is the native soil.

Fred Hoffman: Three more things I want you to do.   If a stake is on a tree when you bought it, remove that single nursery stake, remove it.  If the tree can’t stand up on its own, then put in two more stakes on either side of the tree, about eight inches apart.  And you’ll only need to stake the tree for about a year; it should stand on its own after that.  You only need stakes if the tree can’t stand by itself. 

Fred Hoffman: You’re gonna’ add an irrigation system to it, and finally you’re gonna’ add mulch. 

Fred Hoffman: To wrap up our tree planting we’re going to fertilize it with a liquid fertilizer around the base of three.  And we’re gonna’ protect the trunk of the tree with white wash, give it a good coating.  Trees can do it all.  They add value to your home, they lower your electrical costs and provide food for your family- trees can really do it all, 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.

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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