Sandra Newman of Forbidden Fruit Orchards developed a passion for the land at an early age.
Born on her grandparents’ farm, she learned how to plant her first vegetable garden from her grandmother, and spent much of her childhood playing in the soil. When it was time for Sandra to attend college, she decided to study agriculture and now holds a B.S. and M.S. in Plant Science.
After years of careful saving, Sandra was able to purchase her first plot of land in 2002. Located in Northern Santa Barbara County, the 100 acre parcel was full of dying apple trees, and restoring the soil to health required a tremendous amount of love and care. Sandra decided to take advantage of the cool and temperate coastal climate of the area to grow organic blueberries. In the Spring of 2013, she planted 2 acres of southern highbush blueberries, about 12 miles east of the ocean under frost protection.
During her first growing season, Sandra realized that her plants stayed evergreen throughout the winter, allowing her to produce fruit even in the off-season. She also noticed that the long hang time of the fruit led to large, crisp and flavorful berries.
Pleased with these results, she’s continued to master her craft over the last decade, carefully building and perfecting her blueberry operation.
Demand for California blueberries continues to increase, and Sandra recently announced that she’ll be partnering with 9th generation California grower, James Ontiveros, of San Luis Obispo to expand her organic blueberry program. James also has a long history of growing organic blueberries and, like Sandy, has made his love of farming and dedication to the land a hallmark of his farm’s mission.
This is an exciting development for Good Earth, as it will allow us to source organic California blueberries for most of the year, reducing our need to import product from Mexico and Peru in the off-season.
In addition to their expansion of the organic blueberry program, Forbidden Fruit Orchards is also moving away from plastic packaging in favor of a more sustainable cardboard option. Because of their delicate structure, berries have presented historical transportation and storage challenges when packaged in anything other than plastic.
We’re excited to see growers pushing forward and making advancements in this space, and we hope to see Forbidden’s new package in our produce department in the late spring.