Thursday, May 2, 2013

Urban Farming With The Tapia Brothers




The Tapia Brothers farm and produce stand in Encino is a fruit-and-vegetable lover’s dream.  In the middle of the Sepulveda Flood Control Basin, brothers Tom and Felix Tapia grow all kinds of produce.  Specifically, they are known for sweet corn-on-the-cob and strawberries, both of which are in season now.

The farm sits on 100 acres at the intersection of Burbank Boulevard and Hayvenhurst Avenue alongside the 101 freeway.  The brothers have farmed the acreage since 1984.  Before that, they had a stand near Santa Clarita in Bouquet Canyon.  My father used to stop there for corn and strawberries after a day of hunting in the mountains.  I went to high school with Eddie Tapia, a member of the multi-generational farming family.

I make it a habit, especially this time of year, to stop by the stand on Saturday or Sunday to pick up strawberries, grape tomatoes, oranges and zucchini for the week.  Usually I wind up sharing with neighbors because the price is good and everything is so fresh.  During the month of October, the entire stand is turned into a pumpkin patch complete with scarecrow zombies and other scary creatures.  The colder months bring fresh Christmas trees.  All year round there are goats, sheep, chickens and a rabbit or two who are friendly and eager to greet visitors.

The stand is open Monday through Saturday, 9AM-6PM and Sunday, 9AM-5PM.  My weekend trip to the farm in the middle of the city has become a way of supporting something that is rooted in my past.  Every month, more of the places I remember from childhood disappear, victims of the developer’s bulldozer, or simply the casualties of a poor economy.  Thankfully, Tapia Brothers is still around.  It is rare to find such a place in a big city like Los Angeles.  Prices are reasonable and the produce can’t be topped.  Here are some pictures from a recent trip:














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