Our stonefruit orchards are truly a magical place. A stonefruit is among the drupe family and is virtually any fruit with a pit (wikipedia description) Many of our plantings are over 50 years old, which means these trees are pulling forth a palette of texture and flavor that cannot begin to be rivaled by the modern fruit industry. These are good old fashioned, sun-ripened, melt in your mouth California stonefruits. They’re very fragile, never uniform in shape or size, and sometimes blemished with knicks or sunspots. We often say we don’t grow the prettiest fruit but we think we grow the tastiest. These aren’t your run of the mill, uniform, hybridized, bred-for-decieving-color-to-look-ripe, but really hard-as-a-rock-golf-balls you tend to find at the grocer. These are real, honest to goodness, farm fresh fruits like you might have found growing in your grandmothers backyard. Not too many folks preserve old growth orchards. Most growers tear out and replant their orchards when they’re between 15-20 years old, replanting with whatever the brokers think will ship and sell better at the supermarket.
Our orchard was designed and laid out to fruit in succession, so we usually never have more than one variety in season at once. The original intent, which still holds true today, was to be able to keep a small efficient, well trained crew, employed year round tending to the citrus and the stonefruits. That way you weren’t laying off seasonal workers each fall and hiring new ones each spring. This means a crew of just 2 or 3 people can handle all of the maintenance and picking without getting overwhelmed. Our employees can all count their years of service, and care for the trees here, by the decade. Consequently, the knowledge base they pull from is immense and truly invaluable.
We use cover crops and rotations of sheep to control vegetation and fertilize the orchards. Compost teas and root drenches in addition to foliar feedings of minerals help keep the trees healthy and vibrant. Most of our trees are heirloom varieties many of which are on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, which is their list of extremely endangered varieties in need of preservation. We hand pick all of our fruits with the goal of offering everything to the consumer at the peak of ripeness. We don’t use any cold storage or other methods of preserving shelf life but rather pick daily, usually at daybreak before the farmers market, often returning to the same tree over and over again throughout the season to always be able to capture the freshest and sweetest fruit ready to picked that day. Typically all of our fruit is available by the lug, half lug, or individually by the pound. We strive to offer our customers the best bulk prices around so that if you want to process and preserve fruit you can get prices that mimic that of wholesale.
We do not sell any nursery stock or cuttings. If you’re looking to buy quality tree stock for planting we recommend checking with Peaceful Valley, particularly in the winter and early spring when they stock their bareroots, or buy directly from Dave Wilsons Nursery.
WE DO NOT SHIP ANY STONEFRUITS, THEY ARE ONLY AVAILABLE FROM US LOCALLY
Apricots (Wikipedia Origin and History) Shaking off the heels of winter, these divine luscious fruits indicate that summer’s heat will soon be greeting us. For the last weeks of school kids can look forward to these tart tangy orange fruits in their lunch box. They also signify a time to start stocking up for the following winter. Apricots, long considered to be a powerful aphrodisiac, are just tremendous when dried or canned and they also freeze beautifully. There’s nothing quite like being able to make apricot pie in February. The apricot trees look the most majestic throughout our orchards because as they age their gnarly rough trunks get thicker and thicker. All of our apricot varieties are fantastic fresh or good for canning, drying, or freezing.
Patterson – a very popular variety for its strong traditional apricot flavor, bright orange color, and firm flesh that makes them a particular favorite for drying and canning halved fruit.
Blenheim (Ark of Taste Description) – these little beauties are the crème de le crème of the apricot world. They’re small and prone to lots of spots on the skin. They also ripen from the inside out so you want to get them while they still have a little green blush at the crease. They have less acidity than Pattersons and their sweetness is reminiscent of honey. They ripen very quickly and have a rather brief shelf life if not eaten right away or preserved. If heated they get soft and break down to sauce. It’s nice to mix Pattersons and Blenheims together when making pies, and the like, as the Pattersons will hold together while the Blenheims will form a thick rich sauce that binds everything together. The Blenheims do not can well if you’re trying to preserve them as halves, but they make the most delicious apricot jam you’ve ever tasted. Once you’ve had one of these fantastic little apricots, it’s hard to go back to anything else.
Bing Cherries (Origin and History) We only grow the one variety, but Bings are the most notable variety of sweet cherry. Awaking the sun with their picturesque delicate white blossoms in spring, then exploding with maroon color against the contrast of their broad green leaves just before summer. These nutritious sweet cherries are rich in antioxidants and full of flavor. Though the pitting takes a bit of effort, they make sensational pies and baked goods. And few things are as luxurious as homemade cherry jam. Cooked cherry sauces dance and play sensationally with tender savory white meats like duck, pork, or chicken. This can be a volatile crop for us, as a late rain will cause the cherries to swell and split and thus rot almost instantly. However when the weather is right, and these treats have the opportunity to flourish all the way through to ripeness, be sure to enjoy them for both their simplicity and versatility.
Nectarines (Origin and History): Nectarines are actually the same species as peaches just expressing a recessive trait for bare skin. If the fuzz of a peach bothers you, then nectarines are the best of both worlds with naked flesh as smooth as a plum but with the complex quenching essence of the peach.
Peaches (Origin and History) We’re known all across northern California for our mouthwatering, drip down your chin, heirloom yellow freestone peaches. As summer beckons throngs of people come from all over the northstate in annual tradition to come get Chaffin peaches. In Butte County, we often reach temperatures between 100-110 degrees. The fruit thrives in our Mediterranean Climate and dry heat. Nothing embodies the season of plenty more than a peach fresh off the tree, still warm from the sun. We only grow yellow freestones (a freestone means the pit breaks away freely from the fruit vs. a clingstone where the flesh of the fruit holds onto the pit). All of our varieties are fantastic fresh or good for canning, drying, or freezing.
Regina – a superb early peach, with bright yellow firm flesh, and rich red colored skin with a good amount of fuzz like a good old fashioned peach should have.
Red Haven – another nice early peach, often with marbled streaks of crimson red contrasting through its yellow flesh. If you make jam from these peaches don’t be surprised if it turns out pink. These peaches also tend to be a little bit on the clingy side.
Red Top – A very classic moderate sized peach that in many ways is often hard to distinguish with Red Havens.
SunCrest (Ark of Taste Description) – You’ve yet to truly eat a peach until you’ve had a Suncrest. These large blond fruits are the epitome of what a peach should be. The flesh is firm but supple, fine grained, and carries a refreshingly smooth tangy finish. These fruits are sometimes ignorantly overlooked by novices who see their light yellow flesh and think they aren’t ripe or sweet if they’re used to buying redder varieties of peaches. But don’t be fooled, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more satisfying peach than the SunCrest. They have a shorter shelf life than the previous peaches mentioned and are extremely fragile so be sure to handle them with extra care. These peaches, like the Blenheim apricots, do something absolutely magical when you use them for making jam. The book Epitaph For A Peach by heirloom specialist David Mas Masumoto was written specifically about this variety and how endangered they’ve become.
Faye Elberta – (Ark of Taste Description) Another extremely rare, large heirloom peach. Tapping into a world of forgotten flavor, these precious fruits have less acidity than the SunCrest but finish with strong notes of faraway spices. This variety often grows fruit as large as softballs. They have crimson red skin that’s a bit thicker than some of the other peach varieties help protect it from the harsh August heat. And while very different in flavor than SunCrest or any of the earlier peaches, this variety steals the spotlight in a way all it’s own.