John France Raises Citrus Fruits and Grapes, but He’ll Tell You That His Most Important Crop is Dirt

When you squeeze lemon juice into your Sun Basket meal or stir some of the fresh zest into a dish, you’re not likely thinking about dirt, but John France is. France is one of our favorite citrus farmers, and owner of France Ranch and Homegrown Organics in Porterville, California near Bakersfield. According to France, soil is everything when it comes to farming.  Ultimately, all the major characteristics of that lemon, including the sugar levels, the size, the smoothness of the skin, and the ability of the fruit to handle the rigors of picking and packing, are determined by the quality of the ground it grows in. That’s why France focuses much of his attention on maintaining soil and developing a balanced ecosystem underground.