***This is the first in our series of “Tales from the Specialty Crop Ambassadors” – blog posts written by farmers working with the Center for Land-Based Learning in Winters, CA. The Specialty Crop Ambassadors are spearheading projects that support consumption, education, and access to California specialty crops.***
By Shane and Katherine McKenna
July was an exciting month at McKenna Farms! Our specialty watermelons looked great – the Black Tail Mountain variety came in first and the Sweet Siberian close behind. The Moon and Stars watermelons were the last to ripen but their beautiful speckled rinds make them worth the wait and fun to watch grow. These watermelons are sure to make an impression on our student visitors!
We are excited to have local students out to the farm this season and prepared the field for these events. To facilitate student visits we have created wide furrows between our beds of specialty crops, so that the students can easily walk through the field and make observations. Our field was also designed with a wide path through the middle, so that we can accommodate a large class. This area will act as an outdoor classroom where students will gather before and after walking the field. Here they can share their observations and any questions they have about growing specialty crops.
In addition to the watermelons we have two varieties of cantaloupe, three gorgeous varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and several different sweet and hot peppers. The sweet peppers are all Hungarian heirloom varieties and turn a bright lipstick red when they ripen. The spicy peppers may not be as visually striking but they make up for it in flavor. From the mild Poblanos (prized for Chile Relleno) to the super spicy Habanero, these peppers are delicious!