L.A. schools support local, struggling farmers

Local orchardists could lose everything due to a fatal citrus-tree disease.

LOS ANGELES—Down a dusty road surrounded by orange trees and the rolling hills of Redlands, the farmer in a battered straw hat and worn jeans worked his land, just as his father and grandfather and great-grandfather did before him.

Bob Knight remembers pulling weeds from the soil almost before he could read. He was 6 and could barely reach the pedals when he first steered a truck, then began picking and packing the fruit, and checking drip-irrigation systems.

Now 54, lanky and long, Knight tends 67 acres bursting with thousands of orange trees bearing sweet Valencias and seedless navels, knobby Gold Nuggets and deep red Moros.

But on this warm January afternoon, this man whose family has painstakingly cultivated citrus for more than 100 years was planting cauliflowers.

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