growing an ecosystem of abundance

Happy Solstice! Summer Fruit Tasting Season Has Begun-

yellow cherries

This tasting featured cherry varieties from centuries ago in Europe, old American favorties, and  brand new varieties bred by Zaiger Genetics, and others by the Santa Clara Valley CRFG Hybridizers Group.

The longest day of the year is here and the fruits are falling from the trees. Will you be there to taste test the delicious diversity? Well there are many opportunities to expand your palate.

I have a whole page dedicated to listing the upcoming fruit tastings I know of in the Northern California area:
please send me any tastings I have missed!

I started this year’s summer fruit tasting season with my son on Fathers Day last Sunday at Andy’s Orchard in Morgan Hill, South of San Jose.

I have been to as many of these tastings at Andy Marinani’s farm as I can get to. Andy is renowned for having the top collection of stone fruit varieties commercially available purchase by the public. He generously contributes propagation material from many varieties of stone fruit and persimmon which are offered at the California Rare Fruit Growers annual scion exchanges, and leads the Santa Clara Valley Chapter CRFG Hybridizers Group. Don’t feel bad you missed this first tasting, as he holds several during the summer stone fruit season. His website with details of future tastings is here:

This year Sunset magazine’s June 2013 issue just came out with an eye popping article on Andy Mariani and Andy’s Orchard, of course mentioning their seasonal fruit tastings. This publicity lured the crowds of tasters to number an estimated 300+.

Andy's Article and Crowds

Sunset magazine feature article about Andy’s fruit gave people reason to wait in such long lines to enter.

cherry tasting before the crowds

‘Bing’ is king, with the other 33 varieties in the background, before the crowds arrived

Our bellies were getting full and our taste buds saturated, having tasted 34 varieties of cherries, and a dozen other early stone fruit varieties, topped off with a chocolate dipped fresh cherry! Then there was the orchard harvest walk, this time with the alert leadership of Karl Gross, scion exchange co-ordinator for the Santa Clara Valley CRFG. We took home some rare fruits: including a few pounds of the ‘Black Republican’ cherry, mother of the renowned ‘Bing’.

picking black republican

Picking the wonderfully rich ‘Black Republican’, c. 1860.

This weekend there are at least two tastings on the same day, scheduled so that you could actually attend both.

At 10 am on Saturday, June 22,  the USDA National Clonal Germplasm Repository will host a mulberry and early stone fruit tasting at the Wolfskill Experimental Farm near Winters.
This is a historic site, founded before the gold rush, by John Wolfskill. It now is managed by the University of California, with a section containing the USDA fruit nut and vines collections. They also host multiple tastings throughout the seasons. Lead researcher John Preece and his field managers and researchers maintain thousands of varieties in their collection and are very knowledgeable, and glad to share information at these tastings. Their website is full of information on the collection:

Later in the day on Saturday at 400pm, another fantastic event will be held in the Central Valley:
The Organic Stone Fruit Jubilee, held at the Mokichi Okada Association’s Oasis Garden in Clovis. Nearly a dozen organic orchardists will be sharing over 60 varieties of fruit starting at 5pm. More information here:

The more fruit you taste, the better your reference points are to know what you like and describe for others what they might like too. This will allow you to make a better shopping list for our winter scion exchanges. It is hard to remember those warms summer fruits in the cold of January, so make good notes! Your taste buds just might start to tingle when you hear those special names again.

Keep it juicy!

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