This is the first of a set of long-overdue posts on our tour of K.M.K Farms back on May 6.
The day was a combination open house and 10th farming anniversary celebration for Michele and Kyle. Michele had long ago invited us to come down and check the place out, and we’d never seemed to find the time, so this was a perfect opportunity to see where so much of our food of the past year was grown.
Michele and Kyle farm about seven acres outside of Kingsburg, CA – the “Swedish City.” They started out just selling avocados and over the years have expanded the number of crops to include additional orchard crops and a variety of row crops as well. Michele is one of the year-round sellers at the Vineyard Farmer’s Market. When Michele heads up to Fresno on Saturday mornings, Kyle heads down to Visalia to run another K.M.K. Farms stall there.
The day was sunny and warm when we headed down to Kingsburg. The farm is just outside of town – not that there’s a whole lot of charming little Kingsburg to be outside of.
We were greeted by cheerful plantings at the farm’s front gate,and their young helper Lauren was kind enough to help me save my strength by giving me a ride in the golf cart down the long drive back to the patio, with the avocado grove on the left and the farmhouse on the right. This shot is looking back down the drive toward the road, so the avocados are on the right and the house (not visible in this shot) is on the left.
Behind the house, the patio, surrounded by plantings and a low fence, was set with tables strewn with cherries and glass containers full of flowers from the farm’s gardens.
We munched a few cherries and sat in the shade for a little while as more visitors arrived. Michele came over to chat for a bit. It turned out that Kyle was down in the fields below the house, giving some earlier arrivers a tour. She welcomed us to walk around while we waited for him to return for another round. And so we did.
First I took a walk by the herb garden. The oregano was trying to eat everything else, as mints usually do. (My little bit of it is in a container for just that reason, as I don’t have the room Michele does to let it run a little wild.)
We visited the chickens, who have a house in a shady spot under the avocado trees – pretty nice digs. At the moment, though, most of them were engaging in a dust bath in the shade beside their house.
I once asked Michele how many chickens she had, and she said, “Just enough to drive me crazy.” I forgot to count how many there were, but I could see their crazy-making potential pretty clearly. One mother chicken was enjoying a shady roost with her brood. I felt bad taking her picture; as I looked through the viewfinder, I could see she was trying to shield the chicks from me. “I don’t eat chickens,” I told her softly, “and I hardly ever even eat anything with eggs in it either.” She shifted against her brood and out of the frame as I tried to get one last shot, and I told her in what I hoped was a soothing voice, “Look, that’s the worst I’m going to do: I accidentally cut off your head in a picture. And I’ll delete it and use a good one.”
Adolescent chickens were hanging out in a fruit bin partially covered by a pallet. This was, apparently, a “keep the growing chickens ahead of the cats” strategy.
Just as I was looking at the teenaged chickens, I looked up and realized Kyle had returned from the first tour and another group was gathering. I walked over to join them.
And that’s all I have the juice for tonight…next time, what Kyle had to say, then we head down the hill into the stone fruit and row crops.
Part II of the tour can be found here.