Becoming pear growers was out of my love of orchards, the trees forming orderly columns, quickly flashing rows, gazing down into all that perspective.  And it was that perspective, with our family’s changing outlook on life, that caused us to seriously grow pears.   We have spent much of our family’s growing time in Fresno, where I taught at college campuses and where my husband, Doug, became a grain trader for the poultry industry and a fuel company.The want of an orchard came also from his love of agriculture and his thirty-plus years’ experience in Ag nutrition & economics.  He also managed a Bartlett pear orchard in Thornton right out of college —little did we know!

Early in our marriage we felt wild and crazy, so we leased vineyards to farm.  Our Alicante grapes were trucked to the east coast to Spanish family wine makers, our Tokay grapes we sold at Stockton farmers’ markets, and our Zinfandels we sold to Gallo.

We had a fanatically fun time while going into financial ruins. That was because of a maddening May 5th frost and because several trucks of our Zinfandels stole off into the mystery of one night to who knows where; we were so naive.

But hey, we were still in our 20’s.

Our next farming adventure was a smaller endeavor; we both had jobs, a son, and we decided to buy a fixer-upper on an almond orchard in Clovis, CA.  We called it “Nutty Acres” and we paid the mortgage interest with our Blue Diamond profit. After seven years it was off to the burbs.

The only thing I once knew about the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta area was how it looked from a plane circling over the winding Sacramento River as I flew north for Seattle to see relatives. It was always so close to us in Sacramento but so far from any relevancy. —But it seemed mysteriously beautiful.  When we still lived in Sacramento, Doug had become known to the grandfathers of several of the Delta’s four-generation farmers as the field buyer with Cargill in the late 1970’s.  We finally made it to this delta in 2009 to look for a place to call ours.

Landing onto River Pear Orchards was a surreal experience.  It was a working concern; as our moving van rolled down the levee into the property, the foreman was talking to one consultant in pear growing while a labor contractor waited for attention.  Bruce Wilcox, working with Mr. Cortez, was a fantastic pear farmer who was farming the orchards for the former owner; we came on to the scene in awe.

Two of the last several years have been big fat brush-strokes of luck: one year was a fix-it winter of changing our pruning method with an adequate harvest. Two years have taught us a big lesson, and another three years have been great responses to getting wise, or maybe just great luck in weather and market timing.  After six-plus years we are still climbing a sort of bell curve of understanding, the top now off in the distance but coming into blurry view.