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By Lillian Boyd
With strawberry season upon us, South Coast Farms continues to offer fresh picks daily from its fields to the farm stand in Monarch Bay Plaza—just 20 minutes away from its farm in San Juan Capistrano. Pretty soon, its “U-Pick” program will launch as well, allowing customers to pick their own fresh strawberries from the fields.
Started in 1996 by George Kibby, South Coast Farms is a family farm dedicated to growing and purveying farm-fresh strawberries and other fine foods from the fields to the tables. All produce is grown without pesticides, fungicides, or any other unsavory treatment.
But Kibby’s first hand at farming extends back to 1982. After growing up in Anaheim, Kibby went on to farm in Santa Barbara, and then Mexico for 13 years—where he developed a fluency in the Spanish language.
“In Mexico, I farmed cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers … the usual suspects,” Kibby said. “That’s where I learned to farm. That’s for sure. I learned you’re only as good as the soil you have.”
But a drought in the mid-’90s yielded unfavorable results in Guadalupe, Mexico for Kibby.
“Water was scarce as can be. We didn’t have enough water to farm. I had a wel,l and the well dried up,” Kibby said about his return to the States.
It was then that Kibby founded South Coast Farms in San Juan Capistrano. In 1998, Rebecca Noble began working at the farm in search of a healthy source of food for her children.
“I met Farmer George, and the rest is history,” Noble, a San Clemente resident, said about meeting her future husband.
Kibby says he and his crew of six are up at 6:30 a.m. daily to pick produce in the fields. The fruits and veggies—free of any pesticides—are then washed and delivered to the farm stand.
“That’s really what makes us unique,” Kibby said. “You can’t get fruit any fresher than this.”
When Kibby isn’t farming in the fields, he’s gardening at home.
“There’s a spiritual experience that comes with soil. I’m always in the soil,” Kibby said. “I’ve been doing this my whole life. It’s all I know.”
With strawberry season in effect, South Coast Farms is offering its U-Pick program, which will allow visitors to pluck their own strawberries in their fields off Ortega Highway. Lettuce, broccoli and tomatoes are also on the horizon, Kibby said.
South Coast Farms also offers its community-supported agriculture (CSA) program with weekly or bi-weekly basket pickups in South San Clemente, Capistrano Beach or Dana Point.
“If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a CSA, we like to describe it as a partnership between a food grower—us—and a food consumer,” Noble said. “Generally, the partnership is between a local farm and a community of supporters that wish to preserve the agricultural life and heritage of their community, as well as guarantee for themselves a reliable, healthy and safe source of food.”
Prices for one 14-week quarter are $280 for biweekly (which includes seven baskets) or $560 for weekly (which includes 14 baskets).
“As a small family farm, we rely on direct sales to our customers. We need the support,” Kibby said. “Your choice to support us is the best way to assure you have a family farm on your side who cares about putting delicious, nutritious food on your table every week.”
For more information on the U-Pick program or CSA program, visit southcoastfarms.com or follow the farm on Instagram at @southcoastfarms or on Facebook at facebook.com/southcoastfarmsoc.
The South Coast Farms stand is located at 24040 Camino Del Avion, Dana Point. The fields are located near Tree of Life Nursery at 33201 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano.