All About Chaffin Family Orchards

| 5/13/2013 4:33:00 PM

Tags: fruit orchards, olive orchards, raising livestock, permaculture farming, Chaffin Family Orchards, Chris Kerston,

Chaffin Family Orchards is a rather unique and special place. The 2,000 acre farm has roots going  back to UC Berkeley professors, who planted Mission olive trees here a century ago. A hundred years later, olive oil from our old growth orchards is still our cornerstone product. Del Chaffin was UC Berkeley’s first farm manager and bought the farm from the university during the depression and added land to it over time. He was an early environmentalist during a time when it wasn’t necessarily popular to be of that philosophy. He

Olive orchards at Chaffin Family.

nderstood that resources were limited and needed to be maintained wisely. The orchards were designed with incredible attention paid to micro-climates and air drafts. In the late 1930’s, Del constructed a lake in a bed of volcanic rock on top of Table Mountain, which fills naturally with rain water. He then constructed a moderately sized hydro-electric system to power the 3 original farm houses off the energy created from the irrigation water that moved from the lake to the orchards. Del’s vision was to start a family farm with the purpose of selling the highest quality products to local consumers all year round. Five generations later his dream continues.

You can see and feel the immense history of this farm anywhere you spend time here. You might notice how big and thick the tree trunks are in the orchards. The majority of the stonefruit and citrus trees are 50 years old or more. The orchards are still continuing to produce amazing fruit today; in fact, we notice the fruit gets better with deeper flavors every year. These older trees are varieties from an era when fruit was bred for taste, not their ability to be transported. You will find quite a few heirloom and Slow Food Ark of Taste varieties here; some that are extremely rare! This farm has never bought into the philosophy of the

Chaffin Family Orchards raises goats for meat in Northern California.

mega-industrialized food system. We believe flavor comes first! That’s why our fruit is all handpicked just prior to sale. We sell the fruit at the peak of freshness, when it’s perfectly ripe and ready to eat. Because the fruit is so fragile, we only sell our fruits locally at farmers markets throughout our region. Hopefully in the near future though we’ll have dried fruit available on our website for national shipping.

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