Posts Tagged: Mark Gaskell
The farmer, Jay Ruskey was working with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources advisor Mark Gaskell when they had a "eureka moment," the story said. Coffee bushes can benefit from the environment created by an avocado plantation.
"I went through lots of cycles of plantings looking at options for using unused land," Rusky said. "Interplanting works for a lot of reasons, and coffee fits perfectly with avocados because it has similar nutrition requirements."
Americans' coffee is typically grown in tropical areas of Hawaii, and Central and South America. Gaskell, who worked with coffee growers for Central America for several years prior to joining UC in 1995, approached Ruskey with the idea of growing coffee in 2001.
“My job is to help small farms with problem solving, so I'm always looking for these kinds of synergies,” Gaskell said of the interplanting technique. “Commercial water rates are high, so ‘How are we going to get the most efficient utilization of land and water?' is at the back of every grower's mind.”
Gaskell said it is important to note that coffee also does just fine by itself in open field planting as long as it is irrigated. It doesn't require avocado interplanting for success, but avocado interplanting is an additional opportunity for coffee growing in California.
In 2014, Coffee Review rated Ruskey's coffee - sold under the name Good Land Organics - among the top 30 in the world.
The publication's top ranking of Good Land Organics has made coffee associations elsewhere sit up and take notice of the potential for a high-quality, domestic crop, the Take Part article said.
“All of a sudden I'm thrown into the spotlight of the coffee world because I'm a disruption, which is something it needs, because it does not have a lot of research going on, like with other crops,” Ruskey said.
The "Roadside Attractions" column in the Santa Maria Times today comments on the increasing number of hoop houses seen along Santa Barbara County highways and byways.
Hoop houses, long white tents also known as tunnels, shelter raspberries, the article said.
“There’s been a dramatic increase in berry growing in the county,” said Mark Gaskell, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.
Hoop houses essentially serve as mini-greenhouses. Made of plastic stretched over hoops, they control heat and humidity and shelter plants from wind.
Hoop houses help growers regulate the raspberry ripening process so the delicate fruit can reach markets at an opportune time.
The article said Leonard and Nancy Morrell were unsure what to do with their 2.5-acre farm in Solvang after their kids were raised and they retired from their jobs. Leonard read a research paper by Gaskell that suggested the area provided excellent conditions to grow blackberries and raspberries.
“It just seemed like something that I’d like to do,” Leonard said of his initial reaction. “(Gaskell) came down from Santa Maria and he helped me set it up and everything. That was kind of the beginning.”
Now 12 years later, the Morrells have turned their modest berry farm into a family business, selling fresh berries and berry jam at the Solvang farmers market.
"Fifteen years ago this would not be feasible because most people were satisfied with Yuban or Folgers types of coffee," Ruskey said. "Now people pay 10 to 20 times more than those old prices for . . . unique cups of coffee that have a wide range of flavors from a variety of cultivation techniques."
Ruskey sells the coffee at the local farmers market.
California small-scale farmers have an ally in their corner when it comes to specialty crop production - UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisors, noted a recent article in Capital Press.
In Fresno, UCCE small farm advisor Richard Molinar is working with Southeast Asian farmers on such crops as Chinese long beans, gailon, eggplant and jujubes, the story said.
He's also helping growers produce Uzbek-Russian melon, which is said to be more flavorful than cantaloupe or honeydew. And for the past seven years, he's been experimenting with miniature watermelons, another specialty crop well suited for small-scale production.
"We're taking a little twist off big watermelons," Molinar was quoted. "We're looking at varieties that growers can obtain and plant."
UC small farm advisor Mark Gaskell helps coastal farmers grow crops for niche markets.
"That's the kinds of things we do," Gaskell was quoted. "We get these things out in trials and get them in growers' hands."
The story said Gaskell, Molinar and other UC farm advisors are now working with Hidden Valley Salad Dressings to identify unusual vegetable varieties that will get elementary school students excited about eating right.
“We’re looking for vegetables that are not on everyone’s radar yet,” Gaskell said. “In some cases, a new crop is one that’s been grown by another culture for hundreds of years and is just ‘new’ to us.”
For more information the "Great Veggie Adventure," view the video below or see the UC news release.
|View a 90 second video about the Small Farm Program
and the Great Veggie Adventure.