For our first farmer profile of the "From the Ground Up" series, we talk with Linda and Andy Mullins, owners and growers at Mullins Family Farm in Temecula, California and co-founder of Frinj Coffee. Check out their Q&A on the blog today!
As part of the on-going efforts of the 2020 Climate Change Consortium, hosted in partnership by the Climate Science Alliance and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, we are excited to share a series of producer stories, called “From the Ground Up: Farmer Profiles,” highlighting our region’s producers and the important work they do for our communities.
The first profile of the series is on Linda and Andy Mullins, owners and growers at Mullins Family Farm in Temecula, California. The Mullins grow a diversity of organic fruits and vegetables, and are pioneering a coffee-growing movement in southern California as co-founder and COO of Frinj Coffee.
Climate Science Alliance (Alliance): Why do you farm?
Linda and Andy Mullins (Mullins): Because it is how we want to live.
Alliance: Describe Mullins Family Farm.
Mullins: We live on almost 4 acres at about 1900 feet in Glen Oak Hills in Temecula Wine Country. We specialize in providing organic produce to 4 restaurants. We provide avocados to our customers approximately 10 months out of the year. We also grow Winter Squash and last year produced 2600 pounds. We are growing our coffee, passion fruit and dragon fruit business and hope to start providing a commercial crop in 2021. We are certified organic by CCOF.
Alliance: What do you love about your farm?
Mullins: I love the diversity of the farm. We grow a variety of avocado trees (Bacon, Fuerte, Hass, Pinkerton, Lamb Hass, Reed, GEM, Sharwill, Mexicola…) and coffee trees (Centro Americano, Caturra, Geisha, Paca, PacaMara, Laurina…) and two kinds of winter squash that we sell commercially. For family use we have lemons, limes, blueberries, oranges, apples, dragon fruit and passion fruit, berries and a large family garden. I love the environment we live in. I love that the farm gives life experiences to our grandchildren that we could not provide otherwise. I love that we provide good clean food to our family and to our customers. A sunrise, sunset or rainbow from our back porch says it all.
Alliance: Are you concerned about climate change? If so, what do you think climate change could mean for what you do?
Mullins: Yes. I think eventually it will be untenable to farm much of anything other than grapes or olives in this region.
Alliance: Do you use any practices on your farm to address the impacts of climate change?
Mullins: Almost every practice we have on the farm is to mitigate the shifts in climate. This starts with the crops we plant: the new trees we plant in the orchard and the types of coffee and squash that we grow. We grow pepper trees, passion fruit and Inga trees for wind management. We choose our new avocado trees for salinity management, phytophthora control and temperature extremes. The coffee trees we plant generally manage the heat OK, but are subject to freezing in the winter so we cover each of them with an Agribond freeze cover.
Healthy soils make healthy food. Our farm soil is naturally decomposed granite. To add carbon and humus to the soil , we mulch like crazy. We chip all our large wood refuse and distribute throughout the grove. We cover crop with tillage radish and intend on adding rye next year. We direct water flow with waddles and swales. We do layered agriculture so our almost 4 acres is mostly planted with avocado trees, with coffee underneath and winter squash underneath that. This allows us to triple our crop space and increase our income. Also one crop provides cover for another from the intense heat in the summer and the dying squash vines catch the leaves and debris in the fall and hold it under the avocados and coffee. They love it.
Alliance: What advice do you have for other/new farmers about farming in this region?
Mullins: Farming here is hard. One extreme weather event can erase years of hard work. Unless you have deep pockets (both financially and emotionally) there is no way I would be farming east of the I-15 corridor. Location is everything when it comes to farming. Being west of I-15, closer to the ocean, mitigates some of the extremes we see here. We get every kind of extreme weather event (high winds, extreme heat, freezing cold and drought). However, we have not seen a fire in over 35 years here, so we are long overdue.
If you’re interested in purchasing produce from Mullins Family Farm, visit their Facebook page or contact Linda directly at email@example.com. To learn more about Frinj Coffee and the growing southern California coffee industry, visit www.frinjcoffee.com
Stay tuned in the coming months as we share these stories and for more information, visit:
2020 Climate Change Consortium for Specialty Crops Southern California - for additional project information and to access all materials, resources, and surveys.
From the Ground Up: Farmer Profiles - to hear stories from other producers
Climate Science Alliance - to learn more about our work and other projects