The first time I met farmer Barry Koral of Koral's Tropical Fruit Farm was in May, 2005, when I visited the Sunday farmers market in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego. (My old stomping grounds!) Not only did he have beautiful fruit, but his signs caught my eye as being both artistic and heartful.
I was in San Diego again at the beginning of the month, attending an Outstanding in the Field farm dinner at another farmer Barry's place: La Milpa Organica Farm, belonging to Barry Logan. My companions, Nikki and Koray, the newlyweds, took me to the farmers market again. I admit to being disappointed that the hand-lettered signs were not adorning Koral's booth, but that was the only blue note (and a minor one, at that).
I inquired about the absence of the signs, and met for the first time Barry's beautiful companion, Beate, who told me she'd being designing new signs (with a wealth of information) on her Macintosh. Barry told me that long before he was a farmer, he was (and is) an artist—he'd attended the Art Institute of Chicago, and had eight years of formal education. That intrigued me—being a calligrapher and artist myself—and I asked if I might visit.
It was one of the most unusual—and charming—visits I've had to a farm...in this case, an orchard. Barry has spent seven years accumulating objects that he incorporates into "environmental multi-dimensional construction." As he described it: ""Incorporating living trees with living organic art with the intention of viewing the environment as a spiritual center and disconnecting everything that does not represent beauty."
In short: the whole place is a canvas for Barry's self-expression, and icons are everywhere. I couldn't turn a corner without finding something thought-provoking.
But there was no chaos: I'm not talking about a Sanford & Son junkyard. Barry is organized as few people I have seen are. It seems to go to a cellular level. As I am sitting here and writing this now, I realize that I'm reminded very much of the Open Studios Tours here in Santa Cruz, which I've been attending for over fifteen years now. It's enchanting to visit dwellings where art is in every aspect of the inhabitants' lives.
A picture in Barry's office caught my eye: the somber, almost stern, face of a young man wearing glasses, looking very much like a contemporary of Sigmund Freud. It was Barry himself, at age 25. I contemplated what monumental shifts must have come into his life, to cause him to shed the heaviness and intensity that, to my eye, beset this young man. Barry retained his purposefulness, but has channeled it into creating light and love in his life.
The art is everywhere, from the outdoor kitchen (as beautiful as the galley in a wooden boat) to the rock circles surrounding the bases of the trees in the orchard. It was in the arrangement of wooden-handled rakes, grouped against a fence, and in bowls of pebbles and marbles catching the morning sun. It was everywhere, and it was filled with order and purpose.
And that orchard? It's one of five Barry tends, where he grows these things:
10 varieties of figs (Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Calimyrna, Diana, Green, Osborne Prolific, Panache, Variegated, White, White Genua)
Brazilian and Mexican Guavas
White and Black Sapotes
Reed, Hass and Fuerte Avocados
Mexicola Seedling Avocado
Navel, Valencia and Blood Oranges
What a luscious list, huh?
Another luscious element in Barry's life is his beautiful companion, Beate. They had met at a nutritional conference, and share a raw foods lifestyle that—take one look at Barry and Beate—keep you looking radiant and young. Beate brought me inside to her Macintosh, and I gave her a short tutorial in my camera and the magic lens I use. She herself is a photographer, and she saw what I have been able to capture with this lens: the essence, the being, of things and people.
They were kind enough to invite me to stay for lunch, but I wanted to get to the airport early in case I could fly stand-by and get home sooner than later. But I will return—maybe in six months—when another crop of fruit ripens.
These people are doing something right.
And, on another note, so is Patricia at 37 Days, a blog that is constantly inspiring more love in this world.
Finally, a great post at Silver Tree Landscape Designs blog about edible/culinary plants (flowers, etcetera) you can do in your own garden.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “No greater thing is created suddenly, any more than
a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I
answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear
fruit, then ripen.” — Epictetus
Coming up soon: a wrap-up of three Outstanding in the Field farm dinners. (And I added some new photos of Logan to his Little Prince gallery.)
Thanks for visiting.