It’s mid-November at Churchill Orchard and our Kishu mandarins and Pixie tangerines are starting to turn color. It’s a beautiful time to be out in the orchard.

Churchill Orchard proprietors Jim Churchill and Lisa Brenneis reveal the mysteries of “color break”.


Last summer was cool, and so this year’s Kishu mandarin crop is running late. Each time we pick, we first track down the sweetest trees by testing the fruit’s sugar level with a refractometer. We demonstrate how to test for sugar levels in the field.

Personal note: Jim and Lisa both used to work for Jim’s dad at Churchill Films, where we made fine quality classroom films for modest budgets and distributed them ourselves. Our little series of instructional films must be some kind of tribute to Our Founder Bob Churchill.


It’s been so cold since Christmas.
OK, cold for Southern California.
Too cold for our Kishu mandarins, so we took extreme measures.
Jim and Mike unleashed the Frost Dragon, a tool we saw up at a neighbor’s operation in Cuyama Valley.
They were kind enough to let us try it out this winter. It’s primitive, all right. Yes, someone has to drive it around the block for hours. Looking forward to Jim and Mike’s haikus.

UPDATE: After that one season with the Frost Dragon, we were inspired to just move one of the big wind machines to cover the Kishu block. Work smarter!


Springtime is Pixie harvest season in Ojai. Pleasant days for hard work. Enjoy your little visit!


Churchill Orchard is out in the East End of the Ojai Valley where the fruit gets ripe a little later – – we usually spend the month of March tasting and re-tasting our spring tangerine varieties.

Churchill Orchard proprietors Jim Churchill (tasting) and Lisa Brenneis (shooting video and tasting).


Eat at Bill’s: Life in the Monterey Market is a video documentary about the phenomenon that is the Monterey Market, a family owned produce market in Berkeley, CA. The Monterey Market’s single store supports many dozens of small (and formerly small) farms.

Stories from Planet X, John and Rachel Bogard’s pottery oasis in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.