***This post is part of 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 Zurilgen of Flyaway Farms
When I first posted about my Feijoa (AKA Pineapple Guava) project I extolled the virtues of this unique drought tolerant and delicious fruit. I also mentioned a bit about where I intend to plant my two hedges of this wonderful plant. Initially I was planning to install them at Flyway Farm in Davis where I live and work. I have recently developed a new partnership with a mixed vegetable farm in West Sacramento called Fiery Ginger Farm (FGF). This is a brand new farm that is developing a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model for marketing its product. The best thing about FGF is that it is right next to Yolo High School opening all kinds of new doors for outreach. With Fiery Ginger Farm I am working to develop a relationship with schools in the Washington School District including Yolo High and the new Culinary and Farm to Fork Education (CAFFE) program. We are meeting with teachers about having their students come out to the farm to learn about farming in general and Feijoa specifically. We are also hoping to be able to bring Feijoa to the students at CAFFE to develop recipes that we can, in turn, give to our customers to use.
The other exciting aspect about this project is its experimental nature. While much is known about how to grow Feijoa here, very little is known about how to grow it commercially. There are commercial growers in Australia and New Zealand but none in the United States. We will be breaking new ground in developing best practices and opening markets for this crop. I think it would be exciting to work with high school students to develop a marketing plan and educational materials to spread the word about Feijoa. I taught science in public schools for fifteen years and I always found it really difficult to develop educational experiences that were immediately meaningful in the real world. We would be able to provide an opportunity for students to get in on developing a new business frontier. What better way to learn a thing or two?