The Sacramento River Delta was at the center of the California Gold Rush. The northern California town that would be the future state’s capital was the gateway to the gold fields in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Delta land was rich and fertile—perfect for farming—and one of the first farms settled there was by the Peck family in 1848.
Today, Tim and Laura Neuharth, along with their son Michael and wife Tara, are the 5th and 6th generations farming the same land. Steamboat Acres farm consists of 300 acres nestled along the rich banks of the Sacramento River and Steamboat Slough near Courtland, CA, the Bartlett Pear Capital of the World.
The farm grows three varieties of pears; Bartlett, Golden Bosch, and Star Crimson; plus cherries, grapes, alfalfa, and small grains. Some of their pear trees are more than 100 years old.
“Although the hours are long and busy, we enjoy the farming lifestyle and are proud to be a part of getting good and healthy food from our farm to your table,” says Farmer Tim. The pear and cherry acreage was converted to Certified Organic Production in 2001.
The farm is also fast moving into Agri-tourism as a way to open the farm to the public and tell the story of family farm agriculture while helping sustain it.
“Remember our motto: Start a Movement—Eat More Pears!,” says Tim, adding. “You can take that anyway you like!”
Pears ripen after they have been harvested and have to be picked by hand when mature yet green. The river delta soil is mineral rich and the hot days and cool nights are perfect for pear trees. Each year the area’s harvest is celebrated with a Pear Fair based in Courtland.
Pia Hinckle is publisher at The FruitGuys.