We work Flora Farm largely by hand, turning the soil minimally or not at all, instead nourishing from the top down with layers of compost, mulch and decomposing cover crops. We rotate our crops to keep the soil healthy and to help with insect control, we believe in companion planting. We only fumigate as needed with natural substances, such as chili pepper, herb and garlic essences.
Here, we have an ideal winter growing season that can last up to 8 months. We farm mostly Heirloom vegetables and herbs through the months of November – June, and fruits like pineapple, plums, mangos, papayas, guyabana, soursop, and bananas from July through October. We cultivate and weed by hand, and over time the need to weed becomes minimal. We plant and harvest by hand, trellising tomatoes and cucumbers on wood stakes and using the shade created to protect light sensitive crops. In all, we plant over 100 varieties of vegetables and herbs. Our growing season becomes a succession of abundant harvests as the hot summer yields to a mild fall, a cool winter and a warm spring.
We began ranching to supply the Field Kitchen and Grocery with high quality, humanely raised chicken, eggs and pork. Our longtime partner, "Jefe" Guadalupe Espinoza, has been raising animals his whole life in nearby Santa Anita on land his father Don Manuel purchased in the 1960s. Jefe Lupe has always cared about the conditions in which his animals were raised and we have worked together to set up a sustainable ranching operation. We irrigate areas to provide vegetation for shade and foraging, and as they grow, all animals are provided open area to scratch, roll and dig. Our ranch feeds are all vegetable, with no hormones or antibiotics and they are milled fresh every 2 weeks.
We continue working to realize efficiencies between the farm, ranch, restaurant and market. As example, we send our “spent” flowers out to the chickens who love to peck at the drying seed heads, vegetable trimmings go to the pigs and chickens, and chicken manure comes back to heat up the composting we use on the farm.