Sunday, June 03, 2007

Newsletter June 2007

WHEN: Saturday, June 16, 2007, 10-Noon meeting
WHERE: Old Creek Ranch & Winery, 10024 Old Creek Road, Oakview (lower Ojai Valley)
HOSTS: John & Carmel Whitman (owners for 20 years)
Optional: stay for general public wine tasting after 12:00 noon. BYO picnic lunch and enjoy the rural setting. Take a short hike perhaps.

DIRECTIONS: From the 101 Freeway, take Hwy 33 north toward Ojai. Leaving Ventura, drive thru the small community of Casitas Springs. On Hwy 33, past Sulfur Mnt. Road and just before the Arnaz Apple Barn, turn right on Old Creek Road and proceed to the end of the road (less than a mile). Enter thru the gate, take the driveway and park by the Ranch office.

Several years ago our Chapter visited Old Creek Ranch and toured the winery operations. This year we will tour the newly established CHERRY ORCHARD and see other old historic orchard plantings and landscaping.

The Ranch is part of an original 22,000 acre Spanish land grant awarded to Don Fernando Tico in the Alta California, Mexican era. 'Mission' grapes once grew here on the lower slopes of Sulphur Mountain. But the prohibition years sealed their fate. The next owner Antonio Riva purchased the Ranch in the late 1800s. Pears, apples, stone fruits and other crops were planted in the early and mid 1900s. It was also a cattle ranch. Later beefalo was raised when the Willit Family owned the ranch

In 1976 the Maitlands purchased the Ranch and in the early 1980s planted new orchards and new acreage in varietal wine grapes, and created their own wine label. Sadly the vineyard fell prey to the bacterium that causes Pirece's Disease" and the infested grapestock was destroyed. Now a new vineyard is being planted away from the problem site.

Come join the tour to see the new cherry tree venture, view some of the older orchards and relax and enjoy the quaint, beautiful setting of this genuine rural homestead and ranch.

Afterwards you might like to hike (so bring proper shoes). You can bring a picnic lunch, relax and enjoy the hide away setting. You also have the option to taste the wines of Old Creek Ranch and perhaps bring some home.

At our May meeting our host, Cooperative Extension Agent (Farm Advisor) Ben Faber, gave our group a wonderful tour of this preserved working farm and UC agricultural experiment station.

We toured the grounds around the old Victorian mansion/farm house and got a look at the barns, one of which was over a hundred years old, the other, more recent barn was built to a smaller scale, thanks to an ad agency that was filming a commercial. We viewed the oldest macadamia nut tree in Ventura County.

We saw the new plantings of both solo and clustered groupings of deciduous trees stone fruits, pome fruits, figs, pomegranate, etc. These plantings were to determine how closely fruit trees could be planted. Some groups in circles not more than a yard across seemed to be doing quite well.

We also saw blueberry trials which were trying to identify commercially viable fruit that could be grown in the area. We taste-tested the various trial peas: sugar snap, snow and shelling peas. Ben told us that within the avocado orchard, a coffee variety (planted from seed) of a Panama/Costa Rica Coffee strain is being interplanted with the avocados. Citrus is being bud-grafted and many selections of banana and many other semi-tropical and subtropical cultivars are being grown and analyzed.

Common wisdom has it that pine needles acidify the soil, but few studies have been done on this. The Ag Station is testing this idea. Coffee grounds, pine needles, garden wastes and oak leaves had been dug into sections of soil to determine which changed to ph and to what degree. The test results have been sent to Davis for analysis. One thing that was immediately obvious was that all four substances discouraged seed germination to one degree or other. There were fewer weeds in the test sections (particularly the coffee grounds and pine needles) than in the control plots.

A corn maze (a maize maze) is just sprouting and pumpkin patch is being sown. Keep an eye on the web site ( to find out when the maze will be ready.

July 21: Tour the Old Mission La Huerta Project at Old Mission Santa Barbara. View the edible orchard trees, seasonal crops and plants that were first introduced by the Spanish missionaries to Alta California starting in 1769 thru 1834. This orchard-garden is a living museum project and is situated in a restricted zone away from the crowds and tourists.

Afterwards it is your option to join the Huerta Folks and friends for a pot luck picnic on the ramada terrace. BYO stuff (share one item for ten). The grill will be available after 11:00.
Parking: at restricted parking lot (directions forthcoming). RSVPs will be requested next month.

August: There will be no local meeting. Be sure to attend the Festival of Fruit in San Diego August 7-12 and celebrate the end of the Year of the Mango.

******TREASURER’S REPORT: The current balance is 5,583.79.

Chapter Co-Chair: Norman Beard, (805) 968-0989,
Chapter Co-Chair: Jerry Sortomme, (805) 644-2777,
V-Pres/Publicist/Programs: Alan Schroeder, (805) 563-9525,
Treasurer: Roland Messori, (805) 969-4167,
Raffle Director: Marv Daniels, (805) 773-9311,
Newsletter Team: (i) Vacant (ii) Wally Mathews, (805) 963-6656,; (iii) Laura Nanna, (805) 687-4553,

Local website:
CRFG Website:

For Membership in California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc, send $30 to CRFG, Inc., 66 Farrugut Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94112-4050 AND $10 (for local dues) to Roland Messori, 355 Sierra Vista Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93108 (Note: Members of the Parent CRFG organization receive the outstanding "Fruit Gardener" magazine.)

Send address changes to BOTH the parent and local organizations (addresses above). Send e-mail address changes to


Post a Comment

<< Home