Columns Culture Farm and Food Profiles

February 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Meet California’s Schaner Farms – No Certification Required

For a related recipe, sampling some Schaner Farm’s citrus, try this seasonal Citrus Salad with Honeyed Yogurt. 

Peter Schaner

Peter Schaner

Twenty-five miles east of the Pacific Ocean, in California’s northern San Diego County, Peter and Kayne Schaner cultivate avocado and citrus trees and a rotating selection of vegetables. Much of their harvest is destined for the kitchens of L.A.’s best restaurants but the Schaner’s also sell at farmers markets, which is good news for patrons seeking elusive Kaffir limes, fragrant Meyer lemons, and jugs of rose lemonade.

At the market, Peter usually hides out in the back of the farm truck, schlepping boxes of citrus fruits and restocking the stand. He’s reserved and incredibly kind, customarily dressed in jeans and a baseball cap. His hands are worn and always busy.

Adina Rimmon, a friend of Peter’s and long-time vendor for the Schaner stand, answers customer questions like, “What’s a pomelo?” Or, “Are those stinging nettles for eating?”

“Here, take this—” she offers a page that outlines the fruit’s heritage “the pomelo is a variety of grapefruit” and suggests recipe ideas “You can add the pomelo flesh to fruit salads… but it is so meaty and delicious you may just want to eat it as is.”

Rimmon creates dozens of recipes—all original—to spark culinary inspiration from Schaner produce. A recent week’s selection included root minestrone, red onion-blood orange confit, and citrus marinated olives.

Not that customers need any additional reason to purchase Schaner Farms bulbous Reed avocados or the jewel-like eggs from ducks, turkeys, and even guinea hens. The stand is already popular with chefs who frequent the culinary-oriented Santa Monica farmers market on Wednesdays and value the delectable merits of Schaner produce. Peter and Kayne, accompanied by an assortment of their eight children and any of various nieces and nephews (Peter is one of 13 siblings), also sell at the Vista, Pacific Beach, Del Mar, and Little Italy San Diego markets on Saturdays.

Schaner Farms applies no pesticides or fertilizers other than manure but is not certified organic. “It’s not about the titles,” Rimmon explains. “Peter believes in his work and doesn’t need an ‘organic’ sign. He’s not doing it because it’s a fad.”

Since 1984 Peter Schaner has been nurturing the land. And one gets the sense that he’ll continue to do so for at least another thirty years. Many chefs in Southern California certainly hope so; their menus depend upon it.

Schaner Farms is located in Valley Center, CA. Reed avocado lovers can reach Peter and Kayne by email, schanerfarms@gmail.com.

-Maria Zizka