Meet A Full Circle Organic Produce Delivery Supplier – Jelich Ranch
As I pulled in to Jelich Ranch’s driveway, the aroma from the day’s harvest of pears, quince and apples and the sun’s heat on this unusually warm fall day immediately intoxicates my senses. Skip, the Ranch’s property manager, steps out of the old white barn just ahead and gives me a big wave.
I park my car at the edge of the pear trees that line the driveway and walk over to shake Skip’s hand for the first time. “After 3 years, it’s sure nice to meet you,” he says.
“Likewise,” I reply. After a few minutes of small talk, Terence, who manages the pruning efforts at the ranch and also acts as the sales guy, joins us.
“What a warm day,” he says.
I agree with him as we move on to the first part of the official tour of the property. Jelich Ranch has been a staple organic fruit ranch in Portola Valley since it was established in 1913 by Walter Jelich Sr. Residents of the area have been enjoying organic fruit delivered from the trees on this property all of their lives. So when Walter Jelich Jr. wanted to sell the property after his father passed away, Phil and Cindy White jumped at the chance to purchase it in May of 2000. Cindy was one of the residents of the valley who grew up visiting the ranch as a kid and decided to preserve the orchard operation so that generations to come can do the same.
Terence briefed me on the history as we walked through the rows of Bartlett pear trees, all perfectly aligned with each other save for the one tree left from the original planting in 1913 – that of a Winter Nellis which continues to thrive today.
To get to the other side of the property where the apple orchards are, you must pass through a draw bridge over a creek. Walking to this small meadow is a dreamlike act on a Friday afternoon. As we walked the wooden bridge, I immediately felt transported to a feeling of serenity and as I took in the heat from the sun and watched the leaves of the trees sway in the light breeze, a pack of 25 wild turkeys scurried across the orchards.
“Oh yes, those wild turkeys are beautiful, but such a nuisance,” Terence said. “One of them climbs an apple tree and throws fruit down to its friends. It’s cute until you come up short on the harvest and have to short a customer.”
Many different animals are drawn to this meadow of apple and quince trees. Ducks especially love quince and since these bushes thrive in flooded areas, they are intentionally planted along the creek in the center of the ranch. The ducks often flock to this area to enjoy the water and the great food.
Deer also love any type of fruit on the Jelich trees and so Terence pays special attention to his pruning methods to avoid the deer who enjoy snapping a branch off so their doe can enjoy the fruit that has fallen to the ground. As we walk through the apple lanes, Terence plucks off a Gold Delicious, a Mutsu and a Red Delicious – the original variety he notes – and hands them to me. “Whenever we need to replace trees, we replenish them with these older varieties that are not largely grown these days because we want to maintain the history of the ranch,” he explained.
As we continue on through the orchards he points to the Cinnamon Spice and the Hudson Golden Gem Apple trees as further examples of their preservation efforts. As we glide through the 50 fig and 40 pomegranate trees a deer bolts from the trees in front of us. “It’s like this all day out here” Terence said.
“Wow,” was all I could reply as I absorbed the wondrous scenery around me, completely taken in by the beauty of the place, the magical wonderland of animals who gravitate here, and the pure fact that a place so peaceful was so close to the city.
“Oh yeah, we have bobcats and coyotes and skunks,” Terence added. “You name the animal, it probably comes here. It’s green all year in this meadow so animals are drawn to it.”
I followed his lead as we circled back towards the gate, so tempted to stay for the rest of the afternoon and join those animals.
Do you have any farms that are part of Full Circle’s organic produce delivery that you’d like to know more about? Let us know in the comments below.