Cheers to your health with this lemon drink crafted by a fabulous local farm
In the gorgeous hills of San Juan Capistrano, there’s a sprawling boutique farm, boasting far more lemons than its cultivators expected to get when they first planted the trees seven years ago. The place is called Pucker Urban Farm, and it’s owned and operated by the Knape Family. When they moved in, they put in a sports court for their kids to play in, but most of the place was still laden with ten-foot weeds. They had it on good authority that lemons were low maintenance, and an aromatic way to deal with the land, so in 2011 they planted their first crop of lemon trees. Turns out, their thumbs were green.
“They didn’t take a lot of work for the first few years, and then we woke up one day and said, ‘I think we have an orchard’” Dorian Knape remembers, happily.
With an abundance of lemons on their hands, they decided to go organic and take things a bit further. Today, they’re a certified crop, handler, and processor—and they’re USDA Certified, 100% Organic. According to USDA Guidelines, there’s a distinction between “Organic” and “100% Organic”. A product can contain non-organic ingredients in order to get a “Certified” seal, while “100% Organic” products must be made with 100% organic ingredients.
“I think it’s important that when they see a product that’s 100 percent organic, they know that that’s real,” Dorian noted, later adding: “Mass production, people are starting to realize is not healthy.”
Because of this, Dorian’s farm is being held accountable in a far more multi-faceted way than most others. Pucker lemons are completely traceable, because of their careful zoning practices. Trees are pruned and the branches are used as green waste, which gets put back into the soil. They’re also composting, running on solar energy, and they use absolutely zero pesticides. By utilizing certain crops, they can attract the kinds of bugs that keep out the more destructive insects, like the Asian Citrus Psyllid, which destroys citrus. Clover plants bring in ladybugs and praying mantises, while the lemon flowers attract bees – all insects that the fly doesn’t like. They even use worm-casting, which is the process of putting worm waste into the soil to eliminate bad bacteria and help keep the trees healthy. It’s an incredible amount of work, but it shows how they are clearly dedicated to the health of both the environment and the people.
“We use mother nature to really sustain our lemons.”
What they’ve created is Mrs. Pucker’s Lemon Shot™, which is a completely fresh drink that contains an entire lemon—peel, pith, seeds, and pulp. Since the product contains every part of the nutrient-dense fruit, the health benefits exceed that of just lemon juice. Mostly found in the peel and pith, Pectin, Vitamin C, and D-Limonene are just a few of the key nutrients in lemons. The Pucker team has customers who were plagued by bleeding gums, acid reflux, gastrointestinal issues, and severe migraines, who have seen symptoms subside or disappear over time. Regularly consuming something so clean, live, and nutrient-rich is a shockingly effective form of self-care.
“It’s something you have to incorporate into your life. It teaches people discipline, and health is all about discipline,” Dorian wisely advises, adding that they’re now “trying to target the people that appreciate health, because we’ve gotta start from them and go from there.”
Seeing what they’ve created become something transformative for locals, is a dream fulfilled for everyone involved. Monica, the Marketing Manager whose Animal Science studies and agricultural passions drive some of the genuine spirit of Pucker, has wanted to work in farming since college. This job is a perfect opportunity to connect with the health of her community, and the health of the land. For Dorian, working alongside family, and people with as much passion for health and sustainability as herself, seems to light her face up with gratitude.
“We are a family business, so everybody works in the orchard. Everybody’s digging dirt, everybody’s pulling lemons, in the processing house, and we’re out selling,” she said, proudly. “This is grassroots, this is not corporate production.”
You can order Mrs. Pucker’s Lemon Shot™ at PuckerUrbanFarm.Com.