Camacho Family Farms is located in East Oakland, California. Camacho Family Farms is considered a "medium" size site in that the lot size consists of 6,000 square feet, and of that square footage, 2,000 square feet is used for urban farming (i.e., 33% of the total lot size).
Camacho Family Farms is a property owned by a pair of siblings, a brother (Casimiro Camacho) and sister (Margarita Camacho), whose family hails from the Caribbean. The primary features of this location are the incorporation of biodynamic principles in the garden, traditional Caribbean farming techniques, sheet mulching, food preservation, and art.
The main part of the garden, receives full sun. Instead of using raised planters, the owners have created terraced beds for their biodynamic garden, similar to the hillside farms found in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. They heavily mulch these terraced beds with bark obtained from a local arborist (for free—the owners confirmed that because they have no choice in the matter, they are none too picky about what type of bark shows up on their doorstep) and straw. The owners densely plant their terraced beds with cover crops each year. One such ingenious crop that they utilize, is the pigeon pea (this is what their Caribbean grandparents had taught them), which I have never heard of up until this time. Apparently, the pigeon pea produces an edible pea similar to a black-eyed pea. The owners have interplanted pigeon pea among other plants, and the pigeon pea plant sends out long roots which help fix nitrogen for these neighboring plants. This is a great tip that I will incorporate this year (I found out that Baker Seeds in Petaluma carries pigeon pea seeds).
Other fun tips the owners shared from their Caribbean grandparents, include: (1) replacing cilantro with culantro in their Caribbean cuisine, because culantro does not bolt the way cilantro does; and (2) inter-planting succulents with herbs. Their grandmother taught them that this enhances and intensifies the flavor of the neighboring herbs. I will experiment with these techniques in the coming year and will see how well they work for me.
The owners said that they do very little work in the garden, and instead, allow nature to re-sow itself (great for busy people). Consistent with biodynamic principles, I love the owners' philosophy of feeding the soil and doing their best to minimize outside inputs. Their garden is a living organism which they love and tend to, and which in turn, feeds and nurtures them.
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