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Home > Feature Articles > Agriculture & Organic Production

Seedless Persimmons Sweeten the Fall in SoCal

Flanigan Farms is a Southern California organic Fuyu persimmon farm and packing business

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When I was a child in Arkansas, it was a favorite fall event to pick wild persimmons. The not-so-ripe fruit puckered us unbearably -- but the ripe ones melted in our mouths! But the really fun part was to open the seeds to discover the tiny knife, fork or spoon inside! Yes! The tiny seedlings actually were sculpted to look like these utensils.

Flanigan Farms Persimmons

Fresh, Local Organic Persimmons

But that was yesteryear -- and today's huge, seedless, super-sweet persimmons have come a long way, baby! Patsy Flanigan of Flanigan Farms is a Southern California producer of organic Fuyu persimmons and owner of a nut & trail mix packing business. The 600-tree farm is located in Northern San Diego County and the packing business is in Culver City.

The Flanigan Farms newsletter carries recipes and stories about their organic farm -- stories such as the impact of the recent San Diego fires that came very close to their farm. "Now we have coyotes coming to feast on our persimmons," she said. "Even dogs like persimmons, but this year the coyotes are bolder than usual."

Flanigan's fall newletter carries a recipe for a melt-in-your-mouth "no-bake", fresh persimmon pie. "Our persimmons don't have seeds, so they get so soft and sweet when they are ripe that you can spread them like jam on toast." My mouth is watering!

Certified Organic Farming

"We were certified organic in 1990," explained Patsy. "We're great believers in the value of organic agriculture. And we use well water for extra sweet, clear taste. But taste isn't the only benefit of organic farming -- there are the benefits to the soil as well."

Flanigan Farms sells most of their crop through the 18-store Gelson's Market chain in California, but 2007 has been such a bumper crop they are looking for additional retailers to carry their high quality, seedless fruit. "One high end grocery buyer refused our product because he said it looks too good -- doesn't look organic! And that's a store we think of as the top of the line!" Patsy was shocked that their careful handling of the fruits with cotton gloves to give a clean and smudgefree fruit should be penalized for looking too good!

Organic farming isn't easy. One year you have a bumper crop and you have to deal with selling the extra perishable fruits. "We sell both fresh and dried persimmons. Some people like the dried persimmons even better than fresh," Patsy explained.

But the market for locally grown foods isn't smooth. Some stores are backing away from organic produce and retreating to conventional foods strictly because of price. This is where consumers can make a difference. Insist that your grocer carry a selection of organic foods...and foods from local producers. Only by showing that it matters to you -- only by creating demand for local and sustainably farmed foods will we be able to retain our local agricultural production and access to quality nutrition.

When asked about Farmers Markets, Patsy explained that they had sold through the local Culver City market years ago, but gave it up because it is so labor intensive and because their crop is seasonal -- and the markets prefer farmers who will commit to year-round booth space.

California has such a rich heritage of local food production that connecting with our roots is part of getting to know the farmers who make our food flow, year after year, through bumper crops and droughts. Through fires and through rejection in the conventional grocery supply chain.

But if you would like to try these delicious organic persimmons, check with the Gelson market in your area -- they carry both fresh and sliced, dry Flanigan persimmons.


Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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