Stuff my lawyer made me say: Holy guacamole! The California Avocado Commission provided me free lodging, transportation, meals, and awesome avocado swag. I am not under any obligation to write or share about my trip.
Oh, avocados. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I was thrilled to be invited to the California Avocado Grove Tour last weekend with my friends from the California Avocado Commission. We’re in the heart of California Avocado season, and we celebrated this green-hued fruit with a delicious dinner at Salt in Calabasas on Friday night. We sampled delicious noms like Ruby Red Grapefruit and Avocado Salad, Kalua Pork and Avocado Egg Rolls, and my favorite, Short Rib with Avocado Smashed Potatoes. After our bellies were full, we headed to sleep, knowing that we’d be up early the next morning for an avo-amazing breakfast and on our way to our first stop, the Brokaw Nursery in Ventura, Calif.
Those of you who’ve stuck with the DCD for awhile know that I’m a big ol’ plant nerd. I love digging in the dirt, smelling tomato vines, and planting pretty flowers around my front steps. When I found out we’d be seeing the growth process of avocado trees from their very start, I knew it would be right up my alley. Avocado trees were first planted in Ventura in 1871. During the next 100 years, growers planted avocado seeds and grafted the seedlings with clippings from avocado trees known to have good fruit. William “Hank” Brokaw was born in 1927, to a family of citrus and avocado growers. Initially a math teacher, in 1956 he borrowed $200 from his in-laws and planted 500 avocado seedlings in his backyard.
Brokaw spent 20 years refining a method of growing avocado trees. A clipping from a disease-resistant root is granted onto a seedling from an avocado seed. The plant is grown in the dark for a short period and the clipping grows roots. The original seedling dies, and the stem of the new plant is then grafted with a clipping from a tree with the variety of fruit desired. By the 1970’s, Brokaw’s method was practical, cost efficient, and catching on. Avocado production soared, and Brokaw is currently the state’s largest avocado tree grower. Brokaw has sold more than 10,000,000 avocado trees.
California produces 90% of the nation’s avocado crop, and avocados are grown by hand on nearly 5,000 small family-owned farms. Most of the avocados in the state of California grow in Central and Southern California, where warm sunshine, rich soil, and cool coastal breezes result in strong trees and delicious fruit.
While at Brokaw Nursery, it was so cool to see the beginning stages of an avocado tree’s life cycle. As you can see from the pictures above, the sheer volume of seedlings, plants, and trees was simply amazing. Now that I had seen how avocado trees are made, it was time to see where these trees graduate to when they’re big enough: an avocado farm! Stay tuned for part two of my avocado adventure, where I share with your our wonderful lunch and grove tour from Rancho Rodoro.