Oceans & Earth, which specializes in gluten-free food, gets its produce directly from its agriculture farm
From the street, it may not look like much — a dusty lot with scattered pump jacks bobbing away for oil on the outskirts of Brea.
But for Adam Navidi, one of Orange County’s most innovative restaurateurs, the land has been a prosperous field of agricultural dreams. Since 2009, Navidi has been leasing space near Lambert Road and Valencia Avenue to house Future Foods Farms, whose motto is “sustaining the planet one plate at a time.”
His farm’s products are used at his Yorba Linda restaurant, Oceans & Earth, and his catering business.
Throughout this year, however, Future Foods has been winding down production. The farm will be displaced to make way for a future housing development. Though relocation has been delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak, Navidi plans to keep Future Foods in Orange County.
“And we’re going to do it better this second time,” Navidi said.
Future Foods currently only takes up a small portion of its original 65 acres, though at its peak, Navidi maintained about 100,000 square feet of growing space spread out among a host of greenhouses and other enclosures.
Within that was one of California’s largest and most successful aquaponics facilities. The greenhouses grew 30,000 to 40,000 heads of lettuce a month. Many styles of farming were used, including vertical, NFT (nutrient film technique), and flood and drain. They produced many varieties of tomatoes, herbs, vegetables and peppers.
Future Foods had chickens. It had goats — a roaming herd of 350 of them, to be specific. It had 150 beehives. Inside the greenhouses, disco balls lit the night to keep rodents away.
“They apparently don’t like the reflecting light,” Navidi said during a tour of Future Foods in February.
Navidi even had a small blacksmith area where he forged his own kitchen knives.
During the tour, Navidi was feeling nostalgic for all the good times and hard work that went into his farm, which he initially thought would only last five years. Fortunately, he got more than twice that time in, all the while hosting special event dinners and student researchers from nearby universities.
As Future Farms winds down, Navidi remains busy at Oceans & Earth, which distinguishes itself as Orange County’s only dedicated gluten-free restaurant.
It opened in December 2014 and has regularly showcased many of the organic foods Navidi grew. There are other ties as well, such as the restaurant’s fish tank stocked with fish born at Future Foods.
Like restaurants everywhere, COVID-19 has slowed business. Navidi and his team provided takeout specials for the last couple months but recently reopened for dine-in again. They have live music on the patio on Fridays and Saturdays.
When things get busier and Future Foods relocates, Navidi wants to expand Oceans & Earth’s agricultural education efforts.
He has some space on his restaurant patio where he wants to install an aquaponics system that allows children to plant a seed. Each time the children return to the restaurant, they can watch how, with the fishes’ help, their seeds grow into edible food.
It’s educational. What’s more, “It’s planting the seed for future business,” Navidi said with a smile.
IF YOU GO
What: Oceans & Earth
Where: 20305 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda
When: Tuesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Information: (714) 970-7027; oanderestaurant.com
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