Tuesday, September 28, 2010

L is for Lindcove and Lindcove is for Citrus

L is for Lindcove, and what some people may not know is that Lindcove, an unincorporated area of Tulare County, is home to the world famous Lindcove Research and Extension Center. You may have passed it on your way to Kaweah Lake, Three Rivers or Sequoia-Kings Canyon National parks.

This little gem of a center is committed to delivering the tastiest, most flavorful, citrus to the world. So how does it work?

The center was established in 1959 by citrus growers in the San Joaquin Valley and the University of California Riverside. Its 125 acres serves as the perfect place to conduct research to find out what type of citrus will make us smile when we go to the fruit stand or the produce aisle with a craving.

Why Lindcove? Its soils and the climate are representative of the 190,000 acres of citrus growing in our great Central Valley. That's why scientists love it. They can develop new varieties of citrus, figure out better growing practices and figure out how to keep the pests away from our beloved citrus.

There are grower tastings there all the time, in fact one this month offers growers tastings of over 15 varieties of Satsumas, but every December they also do a public tasting. I strongly encourage you to attend. It's set for Dec. 11 this year and that will be here before we know it, trust me.

The Lindcove Research and Extension Center is another Tulare County the Great. For more info on it, visit groups.ucanr.org/lindcove/index.cfm.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Lisa Project opens Friday

The Lisa Project has landed in Tulare County.

It's doors will open on Friday, in an effort to allow people to see, hear, and experience what life is like for children who are abused. Last year in Tulare County there were 19,786 reports of suspected child abuse. Hopefully after everyone has had a chance to tour this FREE exhibit, that number will decrease dramatically. That's the reason the Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council, one of the great organizations of Tulare County, has brought The Lisa Project to us. Remember, if you suspect child abuse, you can report it 24-hours a day by calling (800) 331-1585.

The Lisa Project, located in the parking lot at Acequia Avenue and Court Street, is open throughout the month of October. Hours are: 5-9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays; and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information on The Lisa Project, visit thelisaproject.org or call 735-0456.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

There's A Little Bit of Bob in All of Us

Tulare County the Great will use Thursdays as a time to celebrate the great people of Tulare County - our celebrities you might say. One of the biggest names in Tulare County, and one of the most revered, is that of Bob Mathias.

Whether you've grown up here, or you're a transplant, you should know his name. He was the Bob of Tulare County.

Born in Tulare in 1930, Bob Mathias is a perfect example of the hard-working and talented people of Tulare County. His drive and determination captured the hearts of this country in 1948, when at 17, he became the youngest person ever to win the Olympic decathlon. He took home the gold again four years later and set an Olympic and world record.

But he was more than an athlete. He served our country in the military, he served our country as a politician (four terms in Congress), and he even appeared on the big screen. He died in 2006, at the age of 75.

Bob Mathias is just one of the many people that have made Tulare County the Great.

Photo Credit: NNDB.com.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Trader Joe's Connection

Everyone loves Trader Joe's, right? So, since there seems to be a lot of love for Trader Joe's, I thought it would be a good idea to share that one of the product's sold by Trader Joe's has a connection to Tulare County.

Yep...it's locally owned milk processor Provisions Food Company's newest line. It involves processing of soy into milk-like products - including the Trader Joe's-branded soy yogurt.

If you live in Visalia, you've driven by Provisions Food plant on Divisadero and Goshen. Back in July 2009, the company set up shop inside the the old Kraft/Knudsen plant - once the site of Visalia’s oldest food manufacturer.

The company experienced strong growth, and recently announced it was looking to hire. Their products include nonfat dry powdered milk, cream cheese, yogurt and a whey protein powder popular among the weight-lifting crowd, according to the Visalia Economic Development Corporation.

There's a look at another great local business that is giving us a reason to be proud of Tulare County the Great.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tulare County's Big Organic Factor

It's great to live in a county that feeds the world. One of the things that makes Tulare County agriculture so great is that our growers are constantly changing the way they do things to both improve the quality of our products and meet the demands of the market.

If you didn't already know it, there's an organic trend that's gaining speed in Tulare County. There are now 90 organic growers in Tulare County - up from 59 growers two years ago, according to the most recent Tulare County Annual Crop Report. Our county is also now home to 4,640 acres of organic cropland, compared to 3,306 acres two years ago. While some say organic crops taste better, others say they help build up the soil and reduce off farm pollution. Here's the breakdown for Tulare County's organic crops:
Citrus: 1,948 acres
Grapes: 1,000 acres
Tree Fruits: 819 acres
Nuts: 393 acres
Berries: 166 acres
Avocados: 87 acres
Vegetables/Melons: 62 acres
Olives: 33 acres
Other: 132 acres

Thanks for reading and don't forget to check back tomorrow for another 'Tulare County the Great!'

Special Edition! Double Dose of Tulare County the Great

Monday's blog was supposed to focus on health, but apparently today is a double dose of Tulare County the Great! Look for a blog on Tulare County agriculture later today.

On the health front, one of the great new advances in health care in Tulare County is the da Vinci Surgical System. Because of it, Tulare County residents no longer have to go to Fresno for the latest technology to treat prostate cancer.

It's also being used for hysterectomies, and in the future it could be used for kidney surgery, cardiac surgeries, rectal cancer surgery, and more. Thanks to Marty Prah, MD, for working to bring this $2 million piece of equipment to Tulare County, and to all those people - members of the Kaweah Delta's Foundation, Guild, and its employees - who donated money to bring the da Vinci here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Organization of the Week: The Literacy Center

There are so many great organizations in Tulare County. Here's a refresher on The Literacy Center, which hosts its Oldies Dance Party fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 25.

The Literacy Center is helping those in our county who are functionally illiterate. If you can believe it, that's over 41 percent of the adults in Tulare County. Thanks to the Literacy Center's more than 100 volunteers, who spend an hour of their time each week tutoring children and adults, the center is making a difference in the lives of Tulare County residents.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, or would like to contribute to this great organization by purchasing raffle tickets to the Oldies Dance Party fundraiser on Saturday, please visit The Literacy Center's homepage at www.tularecountylibrary.org.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Best Place to Hang Your Hat

One the things I love most about Tulare County is that it's centrally located and never too far away from where I want to be on the weekend.

If I feel like taking a dip in the Pacific Ocean, I can be there in a few short hours. If I feel like going to Olvera Street in L.A. or walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, it's the same drill. I can be there in no time. Just look how close we are to all the great places that California has to offer:
San Luis Obispo: 136 miles
Los Angeles: 184 miles
Sacramento: 217 miles
San Francisco: 230 miles
San Diego: 294 miles

While we have the luxury of jumping in the car and being where the action is, we also have the luxury of enjoying being home. Sometimes, a lot of times, that's exactly what we need. One thing I still get a kick out of is exploring Tulare County. It doesn't matter how long you've lived here, there is a part of Tulare County you have yet to explore. I mean think about it, it takes a while to get to know 4,863 square miles.

Whether you're staying in Tulare County this weekend, or you're off to explore California, here's wishing you happy exploring.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Peppermint, Ladybugs and Marble Forks

While they may sound like they belong on a game of Candy Land, peppermint, ladybug and marble fork, are the names of some of the great waterfalls in Tulare County.

The waterfalls in Tulare County made Trail.com's Best Waterfalls in California: North list. The waterfalls in Kings Canyon National Park made No. 2 on Trail.com's list of the top 20 most popular waterfalls in California, while the waterfalls in Sequoia National Park made No. 3 on the list.

While I haven't been to all of the waterfalls in Tulare County, people from all over the world come to our county each year to cross one or two of them off their "must-see" lists. If you're planning a day trip this fall, cross a couple of these Tulare County waterfalls off your list:
-Tokopah Falls (Pictured in photo by SEJonesPhotography.com)
-Peppermint Creek Falls
-Ladybug Falls
-Horse Canyon
-Marble Fork Falls
-Middle Fork Falls
-Boulder Creek Falls
-South Creek Falls
-Upper Wishon Falls
-Cascade Creek
-Hidden Falls
-Tule Falls
-Kaweah Falls.

For more information on waterfalls in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, visit www.nps.gov/seki.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Top 10 Places Tulare County Sends its Crops

We can be proud that Tulare County feeds the world. We produce more than 120 different commodities that are shipped to 89 countries. Here's a look at the top 10 places we send our crops, according to the 2009 Tulare County Annual Crop and Livestock Report:
1. Japan
2. China
3. Republic of Korea
4. Taiwan
5. Mexico
6. Canada
7. Australia
8. Philippines
9. United Arab Emirates
10. Hong Kong

The Lisa Project is Coming

The Lisa Project isn't here yet and already people are talking. Make a promise that next month you'll go see it.

It's an interactive multi-sensory experience that will take you beyond the headlines and statistics about child abuse. This audio and multimedia exhibit is hosted by the Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council will take you on a journey through the lives of children who have been plagued by abuse. It's the first time it's ever been taken on the road, so now's your chance to see it.

It's rated PG-13 and starts Friday, Oct. 1, playing through October at Acequia Avenue and Court Street. Hours: 5-9 p.m., Thursday-Friday; 1-9 p.m., Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Information: Billie Shawl, 735-0456; the lisaproject.org.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why does Starbucks love Tulare County?

The answer is simple: for our cups and lids.

I just found out that International Paper in Visalia's Industrial Park, which makes hot and cold cups and lids, is the supplier for all Starbucks outlets on the West Coast.

The firm has recently expanded, added a blindingly fast cup printer and cup manufacturing machines, and now has 280 employees at the Visalia plant, according to the Visalia Economic Development Corporation.

So, the next time you order a double tall cappuccino, extra dry or whatever drink will get you through the day, don't forget your cup and lid was made right here in Tulare County.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's time for the Tulare County Fair!

It's corn dog time in Tulare County, otherwise known as time for the Tulare County Fair.

The Tulare County Fair starts its 2010 season next week (Sept. 15-19). I'm proud to say the fair is getting better each year thanks to Geoff Hinds, the fairly new fair CEO.

Our county fair is a direct reflection of all the talent we have here in Tulare County. Local bands play, our students show livestock and hundreds of residents enter contests to win coveted blue ribbons. It's always fun to cruise the exhibit hall and the barns to see all the great work Tulare County residents have submitted. I'm sure you'll recognize a name or two.

Don't forget to visit the Tulare County Fair this year. Eat a lot. Conquer your fear of heights on the midway. Support our county fair. Visit www.tularefair.org for more information.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Everyone Needs a Wish

Tulare County has many wonderful non-profit organizations. One you might not be familiar with is Wish Upon A Star.

It's based in Visalia, but grants wishes to children (ages 3-18) living in California with high-risk and life threatening illnesses. These wishes are heart-warming and give children hope. Wishes range from meeting celebrities to something as simple as a bedroom makeover (this makes a big difference to children who can't venture out in public until they are well).

These wishes are funded by donations. Your chance to help is coming up Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Visalia Airport. Wish will host its Boot Scootin' BBQ. Tickets are $40 before Friday, Sept. 10; $50 after. Information: 733-7753 or visit www.wishuponastar.org.

Sequoia Shuttle's Final Run of the Season

Today is the last day we'll see the Sequoia Shuttle making its way to Sequoia National Park until Memorial Day.

The Sequoia Shuttle has helped many people enjoy one of the finest national parks in the country (in my opinion). It only costs $15 for a round trip ticket and helps relieve traffic congestion in the parks.

I would love it if the Sequoia Shuttle could extend its season into winter. I'm not sure if that would be feasible, but I would be first in line for a season pass if that were the case. Join me in saluting the Sequoia Shuttle on its final run of the season!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Stands that Draw the World

One of the greatest things about Tulare County is our produce. As one of the largest ag producing regions in the world, it's fun introducing visiting family and friends to our many fruit stands.

This summer, I've enjoyed stopping at stands throughout the county to try the freshest and newest varieties. One new place I've seen many tourists sampling is the newly revitalized Sequoia Produce stand on Highway 198, across from Orange Blossom Junction at the base of Badger Hill. The owners are great, the selection is divine. If you get a chance in the coming week, try it!

The Fantastic Fox and Tommy Emmanuel

Last night, The Orange Blossom Junction brought "Australian guitar wizard" Tommy Emmanuel to the fantastic Visalia Fox Theatre. I was lucky enough to get invited and I was extremely proud of the way Tulare County showed up to welcome this two-time Grammy nominee. Parking was hard to find. Downtown restaurants were packed. This concert did two great things for Tulare County. It helped boost our local economy by keeping people here on the Labor Day weekend. It also helped bring another world-class artist to Tulare County. For more information on upcoming Orange Blossom Junction concerts, visit www.orangeblossomjunction.com.