Aguila Farm in Fallbrook, California
Leonardo Aguila is extremely proud of his 6.3-acre farm in Fallbrook, California, where he grows dragon fruit, cherimoya, and avocado.
Born in the Philippines, Aguila immigrated to the U.S. territory Guam as a young man and spent spent 34 years in public service - 17 years in the U.S. Navy and another 17 years as a civilian employee for the U.S. Department of the Navy.
When he retired, Aguila saw the avocado orchard and longed to live the life he remembered as a child near mango, coconut, and banana farms in the Philippines. But in the Philippines, the island received plenty of rainfall to nourish plants. In California, farms need efficient irrigation to keep the trees healthy, particularly in steep areas with erosion concerns.
Looking for help, Aguila discovered the USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Service and met soil conservationists Daniel Holtz and Axel Sanchez. They together developed a conservation plan, and Aguila eventually addressed gully erosion with an underground outlet pipeline, installed an efficient irrigation system, and began an irrigation water management regimen through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
"The best advice I can give to other farmers is to get your hands dirty," says Aguila. "Don't depend on one crop. Try to diversify as much as possible. And, conserve resources as much as possible as well."
USDA Photo By Lance Cheung