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California Heartland

Episode 914 - Family Farm Survival  

Family Farm Survival
Family Farm Survival
Family Farm Survival

Glen & Shirley Tanaka and their son Kenny own Tanaka Farms, a produce farming business in Irvine, California. The family has been farming for generations and is struggling to keep their 30-acre farm up and running in Orange County. The family has never owned their own land in 40 years, they've always leased the land—which has often left them at the mercy of developers. Now they face the possibility of being kicked off their last piece of leased land once again. 

In an effort to diversify and survive the changing face of urban farming, the family's focus for the last two years has been on "agri-tainment" offering farm tours and educating children about farming. The tours are given during Strawberry, Watermelon and Pumpkin seasons. Between March and June 15,000 kids come through the farm. In the fall, not only do they still have a full line of fruits and vegetables, but they take people out to the patch where they can pick a pumpkin right off the vine. But even this latest move has its challenges, as a number of schools are slashing field trip programs because of transportation costs.

The family also has a year-round roadside produce stand. It used to do well in the past, but has been on the decline over the last few years. Farming is in this family's blood. Kenny says his father Glenn loves being outdoors and wouldn't know what to do if he couldn't farm. Glenn's grandfather was a farmer near Fresno and his father started farming in Orange County 40 years ago.

Additional Info:
Tanaka Farms
5380 3/4 University Dr.
Irvine, CA 92612

Office Phone: (949) 653-2100
Produce Stand: (949) 653-2256
Reservation Line: (714) 968-6588

Produce Stand Hours:
Monday - Friday 9am-6pm
Saturday - Sunday 9am-5pm


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