I’ve written before about Cliff and Marisa Kane, who grow avocados and citrus on an acre in La Habra Heights, where they live in an 84-year-old California Hacienda-style home purchased from its original owner. In addition to being family farmers, the Kanes are teachers—Marisa’s degree is in art history, and Cliff’s a graduate of UC Irvine’s respected writing program with an M.F.A. in poetry.
They sell their fine wares at Saturday’s Old Towne Orange Farmers & Artisans Market, where they met Chapman University film student Molly Gard, from Corvallis, Oregon. Gard, who lives a convenient five blocks from the market when school’s in session, thought the Kanes would be a good fit for her short “Eat Better, Live Better” documentary. “They seemed so enthusiastic, genuine, and wholesome that I was immediately drawn to them. When I told them what I was looking for, both Cliff and Marisa said without hesitation that they would be interested in participating,” she said.
In “Eat Better,” beautifully shot scenes of the Kane’s micro-farm, paired with their thoughtful family-farm philosophy, provide a window into the other side of a farmers market vendor’s life, the one we don’t see much of from our vantage point as customers. Not to say we’re unaware of the hands-on commitment that allows us to benefit from the literal fruits of a farmer’s labor, of course—but it bears remembering that there are way less risky ways to make a living. You’ll see in the documentary that the risks are touched on—but the rewards are apparent, too.
An extra treat in the film is bluegrass banjo player Travis Bartosh, a familiar sight and sound for O.C. farmers market-goers. He’s nothing short of stupendous—the first time I happened upon him playing, one Tuesday morning at the Irvine Ranch Historic Park market, I was absolutely stopped in my tracks. For most of the soundtrack, Cliff Kane, who’s also a multi-instrumentalist, supplies haunting Hawaiian guitar.
Click here for our updated, searchable guide to Orange County farmers markets, and look for a mention of the Kane’s sublime Hass avocados in Orange Coast’s July Best of issue.