Cherries. Corn. Stone Fruit. Tomatoes. Oh the tomatoes!
Summer, in all sense of the word, is ripe with a plethora of refreshing fruits and vegetables. Days of dining al fresco and enjoying the warmer weather usually mean tables laden with fresh produce directly picked from the earth. Encino locals know that no one is more well-versed in harvesting the best quality produce each season than the farmers at Tapia Bros. Their popularity is so well known locally that when speaking of the aforementioned tomatoes, as soon as the season hits, their phone lines are inundated with pleading requests to snag as many of their most popular pick before it runs out.
Tom Tapia, a third generation farmer, grew up tending to the crops with his father and uncle who took over the land in 1984 and rebranded it in their namesake. Those who have been in Encino for a while may remember it before as Maria’s Corn Stand or even the days when Tapia had cornfields where Lake Balboa currently resides. Over the years, with development and ever changing landscapes, Tapia Bros is now situated on around 90 acres that are still utilized to grow a variety of offerings. Those fruits and vegetables that are not grown on their Encino enclave are all grown in California fields from Fresno to Oxnard.
One thing is for certain though, if it’s not in season, Tapia is not likely to have it. After all, one of the main reasons the farm holds as such a popular staple in the community is the guarantee of quality products. Always fresh and always in season, it’s freshness that you can taste. Their prime location is also a major convenience for customers to easily pop in and park free of any hassle. Anyone simply driving north on the 101 freeway can’t miss the acreage that spans off Hayvenhurst. Surrounded by hand painted signage, various farm equipment and makeshift structures where goods are sold, Tapia Bros serves as a reminder of a rustic era that preceded the commercial nature that now defines the West Valley.
As their produce changes with the season, so do their community centric events. During fall, customers flock to find the perfect pumpkin and kids are overjoyed at the pony and tractor rides on offer. For all ages, a corn maze and petting zoo are open for those interested in getting their hands a little dirty. As they transition to winter, Christmas trees replace gourds and the season slows to a brief closing. But for their most popular event, you have to return to the beloved tomato…While Tapia Bros closes from January until March, they reopen mid-March for their Tomatomania extravaganza with a seedling sale where customers can pick up their very own plants. Tomatoes, as always, the shining star.
While Tapia Bros continues their strong hold in the com-munity, they are not immune to many factors that affect all businesses. The cost of labor is going up as is the cost of water. When you operate a farm, those elements are not only crucial, they can make or break its success. Yet, as their decades of business reflect, Tapia Bros is resilient through changing times thanks in part to the passion and dedication to what they do.
As a family run business, it’s evident that their sweat and soul go into each product they produce. From sunflowers to squash, tart cherries to their cherished tomatoes, purchasing goods from Tapia Bros allows the last remaining farm in the San Fernando Valley to continue to thrive.