We, the owners of Brentwood Rare Fruit Farm, David Yu and Jane Lee, husband and wife, came to the U.S. from China in the early 1990s. We both earned Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago) and worked in the U.S. Fortune 500 companies for many years before we joined Kumon franchise to open our Kumon math and reading centers in the Chicago west suburbs in 2003. In our 15 years of tutoring service, we had helped more than 1600 K-12 students to achieve their academic excellence, and to gain self-confidence and self-esteem at school.
We have lived in the great Chicago area for twenty plus years since we landed in this country and considered Chicago as our second hometown. We loved Chicago and we have all our track of record of studying, working and raising children in Chicago for our life in the U.S. However, the long and cold winter in Chicago will limit our outdoor activities, especially when we are getting older. After our youngest son left for college, we started to investigate where to go and what to do in our next stage of life and finally, we moved to Brentwood, California to fresh start our fruit plantation. We enjoy working and learning through our whole life, to be a farmer will keep us busy and learning new things everyday.
Brentwood is part of the northern California delta and there are bays and rivers, as well as creeks in the delta. Water supply is not a concern even when California experienced years of tough drought. The Mediterranean climate makes it an ideal place for growing fruits as some fruit trees like jujube need a lot of sun, hot summer, and the big day-night temperature difference to build up the sugar content in the fruits.
After knowing the fruit U-pick tradition in Brentwood, we appreciate the events and thought it is definitely in line with our fruit growing plan. Instead of going main stream to plant popular fruits like cherry/peach/strawberry, we decided to add a little bit of different color to the Brentwood historical U-pick palette. We chose to grow “rare fruits” which are rare in the current main stream market: jujube (also called Chinese Red Dates) and Pakistan mulberry. Jujube and Pakistan mulberry fruits have excellent taste, yet a lot of health benefits to people.
From engineer to educator, now farmers, we have started a new journey in our life. To take the challenge and to update our knowledge base, we attended community college to get systematic education of farming related science/technologies, to learn about soil, about the microorganisms in the soil, the nutrient in the soil, and how to protect the soil from weathering and erosion, the theory and technique on how to propagate plants, etc. So far we have not hired any farmhands to help in the farm yet; everything has been done by ourselves. Not only because we are hard working people, but also we believe that if we didn't have the day by day working experience in the farm, watching the trees grow closely, learning and solving newly arising problems, we would not be able to find good ways to improve the quality of our fruit trees. Our orchard provides a best place for us to practice the organic farming. It is very interesting experience and the trees we planted keep giving us a lot of amazing surprises every day. Indeed, we grow together with our trees.
Both of us enjoy very much bathing in the California sun while working in the farm quietly everyday. We have great satisfaction when watching the fruit trees we planted growing and bearing fruits. The happiest moment is when we pick and eat the fruits from the tree without washing them; let the sweet and juicy fruits melt in our mouth.
During school year, David and Jane volunteer in the Brentwood Library homework help program on Tuesdays and Thursdays with respectively. Jane also joins the Delta Strummer Ukulele Band to learn and practice playing ukulele every week.