Meet Felicia Alvarez of Rancho Alvarez, located in Live Oak, CA. Learn more about Felicia and why she is proud to be a California prune grower .
CDPB: What three words would your family use to describe you?
AA: They would describe me as caring, committed and organized.
CDPB: What is your favorite activity to do when you aren’t working?
AA: I enjoy spending time traveling with my family, cooking and tending to my farm garden. I also have two wonderful children, a 3-year-old and 6-week-old that keep me very busy in my off time.
CDPB: How did you get started in the prune industry?
AA: I was born into the prune industry, so to speak. I am a third generation California prune farmer and I am continuing the legacy my grandparents started over 60 years ago. My first steps were taken in a prune orchard and my first job was working on our prune dehydrator. Now, I enjoy seeing things come full circle as I pass on the same farming experience to my young children.
CDPB: What makes you proud to be in the California prune industry?
AA: I am a very proud California prune farmer because we produce the highest quality dried fruit. As an industry, California prune farmers strive for, not only excellence in their crop, but as stewards of the land.
CDPB: What sets California prunes apart from other prunes?
AA: California prunes are bar none the best in the world. They are superior in quality, size, flavor, texture and are just plain delicious. They are perfect to add in everything from your Thanksgiving stuffing to kick it up a notch or your weekend pancakes to add a nice bit of texture and sweetness.
CDPB: What makes your orchard different than your neighbor’s?
AA: I monitor soil moisture daily with tensiometer meters located at several sites in my orchard. This helps me manage the trees’ available water with pinpoint accuracy in different areas of my orchard with different soil types. This daily monitoring combined with irrigation practices creates a healthier tree that produces higher quality fruit while conserving both water and energy use in addition to preventing environmental impacts, like fertilizer leaching.
CDPB: Who inspires you and why?
AA: I am inspired by my family members who came before me. They demonstrated the importance of education, hard work and a passion for what you do.
CDPB: If you were not a grower, what job could you see yourself doing?
AA: If I weren’t a farmer, I would be a science or agricultural educator. I enjoy sharing my love of farming with both children and adults. From a third grader just learning about the basics of photosynthesis to a college freshman experiencing their first soil science class, keeping the next generation engaged and interested in the science of farming would be a wonderful job.
CDPB: Describe prunes in three words.
AA: Sweet, snackable and healthy.
CDPB: What advice would you give a future grower?
AA: I would tell them to stay true to their farming ethos and practices. Embrace the daily challenges and unpredictability that come with farming and remember to stop each day for a few minutes to take in the beauty of the land that we as farmers have the privilege to enjoy each day.
CDPB: What is your favorite way to cook with prunes?
AA: I don’t have a single favorite way to cook with prunes since they are so versatile. A few of my favorites are diced up prunes (or buy prepackaged prunes already diced) and tossed in a salad with spiced walnuts, red onion and bleu cheese with a balsamic dressing. They are also ideal for making any type of breakfast pastry. I put them in muffins, danishes, pancakes and scones. You can substitute them in baking recipes wherever you see blueberries, cranberries, dates or other dried fruits. I think the way I cook with them the most in my household isn’t really cooking at all. I just pop a handful in a plastic bag (or purchase pre-packaged small bags) and take them with me whenever I am out and about with my kids or in my son’s preschool lunch. They are the perfect easy, portable snack requiring no refrigeration. Unlike other fruits or crackers, prunes can get tossed around in the bottom of mom’s purse or my son’s lunchbox and still come out looking & tasting great. They are my 3-year old’s favorite snack.
For more information about Felicia visit: https://www.instagram.com/farm.finesse/
Photo credit: Jill Carmel