The Flower Fields: Farm Story
Farm: The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch ©
Farmer/Farm Manager: Ecke Family / Mellano & Co.
Location: Carlsbad, CA
Specifics: Sandy loam soil overseeing fields of ranunculus and the Pacific Ocean
Planted: July 2014
Tree count: 650
Varietals: Caturra Rojo, Cuicateco, Bourbon, Typica
Harvest season: May-Sept
2019 Tasting notes: stone fruit, maple, and spice with a smooth body
The Flower Fields is a product of horticultural craftsmanship, a legacy to three longstanding flower families, a cultural emblem of Carlsbad, and an artistic display of nature. The location, rising nearly 300 feet from the southern California coastline, has been a unique growing area for more than 100 years. Coffee is only the latest crop to benefit from the mild coastal climate and sandy loam soils.
Over 100 years ago, a horticulturist named Luther Gage brought Ranunculus seeds and planted them on his farm in South Oceanside. His neighbor, Frank Frazee and his son, Edwin joined him in growing the striking but little known flower starting in the 1930s. The original flowers were single-petal and ranged in shades of red and yellow. Over the years, Edwin had a keen eye for encouraging the propagation of new colors and created the thirteen beautiful colors that are now photographed and shared around the world.
In 1965, Edwin Frazee moved his ranunculus growing to the current site on land owned by the Ecke Family of Encinitas, the family responsible for the modern poinsettia. In the early 90’s Edwin Frazee’s sons decided to close down the business. Together with Mellano & Company, another long-time flower growing family company, the Ecke Family took over the ranunculus operation. The focus shifted from bulb production to cut flowers and agritourism. Today, The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch ©, includes visitor services operated directly by an Ecke family enterprise and farming services provided by Mellano & Company.
In 2014 coffee entered the stage. The Ecke family and Mellano & Company partnered with Frinj Coffee to try their hand at growing coffee, the new and intriguing crop for Southern California. A little over 450 Coffea arabica young trees were planted in the sandy loam soil in rows, above the ranunculus fields and the Pacific Ocean.
Each spring, the hundreds of thousands of visitors to The Flower Fields can now delight in the hypnotic aroma of jasmine emitting from the delicate coffee flowers and witness one of the first southern California coffee orchards.
A note from the producer:
We believe that in a growing urban environment like Southern California there is a unique value to the close relationship between the food we eat, the flowers we admire, and the source in the fields. It blends the experiences and makes both more valuable- both savoring the coffee and reveling in the beauty and experience of the fields where it is grown.
Few things are more universal in our culture that than the cup of coffee to start the day, as a pick- up in midday or after dinner to settle a good meal. Yet few people have the experience of knowing and seeing the source of the coffee beans. We want to capture and bring that experience to as many people as we can, in an environment that is accessible to the whole community, not a continent away.
We will measure success not only by the quality and sales from our production but also by the number of visitors who have the opportunity to gain a new appreciation for coffee- and with each taste can also call up a memory of the beautiful plants in the unparalleled setting of blooming flowers at The Flower Fields.