It takes quite the personality to motivate about 10 suburbanites to get up early Sunday morning, drive an hour and a half to San Diego County, and end up in the unincorporated community of Rainbow for the honor of picking weeds for nothing, but that's the type of gal Donna Buono is. The San Clemente resident runs Morning Song Farms, which supplies damn-good restaurant Old Vine Café with much of the veggies and fruits for their wondrous meals, and operates a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program at two Orange County spots in which folks pay a modest fee for organic produce that varies with the season. Due to interest from her customers in seeing where their food originates, Buono invited her customers to stop by last weekend, with the caveat she'd put them to work because weeds never rest.
The drive to Morning Song Farms is relatively simple: a bit off I-15, with curvy roads that dip and rise through her property until you reach her two-story farmhouse (watch out for the 25 or so chickens that practice the joke again and again. Buono greeted about 10 guests with a gruff "Introduce yourselves to everyone, and start picking weeds." She dressed like a stylish South County mom--boots, nice shirt, big belt, and cut bob--but joined everyone in getting down and dirty.
Most folks stayed two hours, uniting in the joy of an overcast, warm day in stunning scenery that soothes nerves like a good cuppa mocha. At the end, Buono allowed folks to take whatever ripe fruits or veggies they wanted--passion fruit, oranges, macadamia nuts. Like a cliché, I spent about half-an-hour with my chica picking clean Buono's chile de arbol plant, laden with thin, vicious peppers perfect for chili flakes. The only place you'll taste chiles of this type this good are in a couple of Mexi backyards, but if you want them, better hurry: they're almost out of season.
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For those of you interested in Morning Song Farm tours or their CSA program, email Donna at Donna@morningsongfarm.com. In the meanwhile, Homer as a hippie, when he eventually turns into an organic farmer!