Metro Mulberries

A micro-farm in Palo Alto

Mulberry growers and avid ballroom dancers Monica and Kevin Lynch at their Palo Alto “farm”

Photograph by Lane Johnson

Juicy, tart, and sweet, the mulberry is a healthy and versatile fruit. Low in calories and loaded with vitamins C and A, the berry can be eaten on its own or used in pies, jams, cocktails, and barbecue sauce. If there’s a downside, it’s a mushy one. Mulberries perish quickly, so you won’t find them in grocery stores. That’s what sends legions of mulberry fans to the Downtown Palo Alto Farmers Market in the summer, when Kevin Lynch sells his backyard-grown mulberries.

“It’s a very unique berry,” Lynch says. “It has this deep, rich, taste that’s not like other berries.”

Lynch’s mulberry business began incidentally, when he and his wife planted a mulberry tree in their Palo Alto backyard in 2003. They fell in love with the taste and soon, he says, “We both agreed we needed to get more trees.” Now their backyard overflows with 28 mulberry trees and a variety of other fruit trees, including Nanking cherries, elderberries, lemons, kumquats, raspberries, apricots, plums, figs, and pomegranates. Lynch sells many of these fruits alongside his mulberries at the farmers’ market.

The fruiting season for mulberries keeps Lynch, a teacher in the Palo Alto Unified School District, busy during the summer months. During the school year, he teaches seventh grade science, but the rest of the year, he’s known as “The Mulberry Guy.” He drives an electric car he calls the “Mulberry Mobile” to the farmers’ market. The car doubles as his sales table.

Many people are not familiar with mulberries, Lynch says. A common myth—thanks to the nursery rhyme “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”—is that they grow on bushes. The purple-black berries look like tiny raspberries and only grow on trees. They must be used within a couple days of being picked.

Lynch’s berries are so popular at the farmers’ market that he usually sells out. He recommends that people come early or contact him in advance to set some aside. The crop is usually at its peak in July.

For Lynch, running the mulberry business is more about creating friendships than making money. “After three years of selling at the farmers’ market, what do I have? I have a bunch of new friends,” he says.

Lynch also sells his mulberries to a number of Peninsula restaurants, including Menlo Park’s Madera and Sand Hill; Palo Alto’s Quattro, Calafia, Pampas, and Mayfield Bakery and Café; and Woodside’s Station One.

“We’re just a small, backyard [business] trying to share these berries with people,” Lynch says.

Lynch, a teacher for 20 years, says his heart is in education. He likes running his mulberry business as a side gig and doesn’t want to change his profession to full-time farmer. His wife, Monica, is also a teacher. The couple’s two sons, Halo, 8, and Osy, 10, will help out at the farmers’ market this summer. Lynch says the experience will teach them about money and help them understand the value of good customer relationships. “Those are good values to instill in them,” he says.

When Lynch and his wife aren’t busy teaching, parenting, or running their mulberry business, they go dancing. “Monica and I met each other through a school district Internet class, but it was through swing dancing that we got to know each other,” he says. “We taught swing together for about five years, and met a lot of good friends through that experience. These days, we’re dance students ourselves, trying to learn the Argentine tango.”

In addition to the Downtown Palo Alto Farmers Market, Lynch’s mulberries can be purchased online at