Cherries are finicky trees. They don’t like it when it gets too hot, when there’s not enough rain, and when it doesn’t stay cold enough during the winter. For the last few winters, California’s cherries have had all three of these environmental stresses and responded by producing fewer cherries.
Olson Family Farms in California’s Central Valley is truly a family affair. Five generations have lived on the farmstead and worked the land since John and Anna Olson emigrated from Sweden in 1888. They bought a 22-acre parcel in Kingsburg (Fresno County) and planted peach trees. Back then, before trucking and refrigeration, peaches were hand-sliced and sun-dried. The whole family worked at the peach enterprise.
Planning farm visits into California’s Central Valley can be fun. The farmers we work with always remind me of the directions. “Chris, when you come out here, make sure that you take Road 204 but only until it intersects with Avenue 296, then hang a right until you get to Road 212. That one is also known as Route 245.” “OK,” I say, knowing that my GPS doesn’t seem to like numbered roads in California’s rural areas and that I’m going to need good old-fashioned maps.