When Pomona College looked for local growers to supply fruit for its dining halls, it picked from its own family tree. John Adams PO ’66 is the owner of Adams Acres, a grove in Rialto, Calif., that is the source of the freshly squeezed orange juice served at Frank and Frary Dining Halls. Adam’s grove supplies avocados, assorted vegetables, and three tons of oranges to Pomona every week, as well as some fruit and avocados to Pitzer College.
Adams received a Bachelor of Arts in botany at Pomona and later received a Master of Arts in botany from Claremont Graduate University and a PhD in soil-plant relations from University of California, Riverside. His studies, along with his experience as a third-generation grower, prepped Adams to inherit his family’s grove. First planted in 1907, Adams Acres is now the last remaining grove in Rialto, a city once known for its prosperous agriculture. The 10-acre grove produces over 200 varieties of plants, including asparagus, plums, tomatoes, squash, and various rare breeds of vegetables.
Early in his growing career, Adams learned that direct sales would help keep his profits fruitful enough to back his business. Adams Acres has a fruit stand based outside the grove in Rialto; however, the stand’s limited income could not support the financial burden of keeping up 10 acres. This prompted Adams to contact his alma mater, and he slowly began to supply more and more produce to Pomona’s dining halls. Adams hopes the dining halls will take advantage of his expanding variety of fruits and vegetables to give the students a more sustainable and fresh selection.
The produce Adams supplies is not only local but also environmentally friendly.
“I grow all of my food naturally. My grove is irrigated the old-fashioned way with furrow irrigation,” Adams said. “There are eight miles of furrows to plant vegetables that will be watered every time the grove is irrigated. They will also have a shorter irrigation between each regular irrigation of the orchard.”
As Adams grows more involved with the 5Cs, he hopes students will visit and intern at his groves.
“There is a great need for creativity for promotion and programs that could give tours to school kids,” Adams said. “Students could not only learn a tremendous amount about growing crops and pruning trees but could also learn how to deal with irrigation regulations and run a small business.”