Summertime in Brentwood, California can be blistering hot. Well over 100°F for weeks on end. Unpleasant for us humans but perfect for growing the most succulent fruits. That is the beauty of Frog Hollow Farm where they produce the best fruits I have ever eaten.
After being an enthusiast for years and wishing I could visit their farm, my dream came true this week. They opened the farm to a public tour and I jumped at the chance and bought a ticket to see where the magic happens.
Frog Hollow grows some of the finest fruits in the country, legendary in the food industry, coveted by high-end restaurant chefs and those of us lucky enough to live in the Bay Area where we can find them at our farmers’ markets. Their shop in San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Market is a must-see if you are visiting our beautiful city.
Just over 50 miles inland, you find the western edge of California’s remarkable Central Valley where more than half of the country’s vegetables, fruits, and nuts are grown. It isn’t unusual for San Francisco to be in the 60s and as you drive in any direction, have the temperature rise 30 to 40 degrees – all while staying within an hour of the City! How is that possible when San Francisco is so cold and foggy? The coastal ranges hold the cooling sea winds and fog close to shore while the inland valleys are sunny and hot.
Kristin and Trinity guided us through the orchards, explaining the history of the farm and how they are able to grow their fruits organically and sustainably in an area known for conventional farming.
In California there are strict guidelines for conventional farmers, making sure that the pesticides used do not wind up on neighboring fields and orchards. There is no spraying on days with any wind to help protect the organic farmers. We thankfully rarely see bi-planes spraying entire fields and the surrounding properties anymore. These days they are more likely to use a helicopter for more exact application.
Founder and owner Farmer Al is a pioneer of organic farming in California, helping it grow into a viable option across the nation. His passion for farming began in Hawaii. He began by growing a variety of vegetables there and when he came back to the mainland, he began building Frog Hollow with a 10-acre plot of land.
Forty-one years later the farm has grown to 190-acres. Frog Hollow is known for their cherries, apricots, pluots, plums, peaches, nectarines, and pears. While they are known most commonly for stone fruits, they also grow quince, Meyer lemons, apples, grapes, blood oranges, pomegranates, and olive trees, strategically providing fresh fruit for every season.
You never know what you may see next from Farmer Al. He is always on the lookout for the next great crop. We saw exploratory plantings of mandarin oranges and avocado trees, traditionally challenging to grow in the heat and cold of the central valley. If anyone can make it work, it’s the team at Frog Hollow!
If you have bought beautiful fruit only to find it was mealy inside, there is a reason for that. The fruit was likely picked green and allowed to ripen in the warehouse. Without enough sugar, which occurs naturally when you let the fruit ripen fully on the tree, the interior will develop a mealy texture. Buying fresh, tree ripened fruits will always give you the most delicious and perfectly, naturally sweet products.
Every step of the operation at Frog Hollow is done by hand by a very skilled team. They trim the trees, thin the fruit, pick, and pack by hand. From the minute the fruit is picked, it is sorted, packed, and shipped within 48-hours. You are guaranteed fruit picked at the perfect moment and ready for you to enjoy in your home.
One thing everyone was curious about is how they manage insect infestations without pesticides. Along with using natural deterrents like copper, they have an ingenious process of “pheromone disruption” that helps keep the flying insects that love fruit trees from doing any major damage.
At the tasting after our tour, we learned how to keep fruit from spoiling as quickly. Always store your fruits with the stem end up to allow their natural gases to escape. Otherwise your fruits will tend to spoil much more quickly. Also, the gases given off by running water in our homes can also speed up the spoiling process so keep your fruit at least 15 feet from the kitchen sink. Pretty cool, right!
Frog Hollow is a sustainable operation and every part of the fruit is utilized in one way or another. They sell whole fresh fruits, dried fruits, baked goods, and jarred fruit spreads. Anything that cannot be utilized in one of these ways is composted, creating natural fertilizer that is used so future crops grow strong and healthy without using any chemicals.
So how can you too enjoy these beautiful fruits? Thankfully they also have national mail order where they offer their luscious fruit and much more making them available for everyone!
I hope you all enjoyed this virtual tour of Frog Hollow Farm. If you are in the Bay Area, check out their farmers’ markets booths. And if you are from outside the area definitely try their online store so you too can taste their remarkable products, experiencing the quality that comes from growing fruits organically and maintaining the old-fashioned way of doing things by hand.
This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.