Rancho Don Antonio Farm Tour Memorial Day Weekend 2016
The temperature gauge in my car confirmed the outside temperature as I drove through Paso Robles on this hot spring day. It was in the 90’s, and as I ate my lunch at the rest stop off Highway 101 I gladly went a picnic table under the shade. As I came into San Luis Obispo, the fog created a welcome cooling effect. Another 25 miles South, and I had arrived at my destination – Rancho Don Antonio.
Tony Chavez was waiting for me in his white Lexus at the end of Thompson Street, where his property begins. Wearing a San Francisco 49ers shirt and blue jeans he greeted me with a smile. I hopped in, and we were off.
On Tony’s property, you see blackberries, blackberries, and more blackberries. He has approx. 15 acres of open field blackberries, and about 8 acres that are under hoops. These two different environments, along with pruning the blocks at different times allow him to stage the fruit for year round production. His plan is to increase the amount of acreage under hoops, for more production in the winter. It’s a hefty upfront investment for a grower, but allows for more fruit on the shoulders of the season, where the grower gets their best return.
Photo 1: Blackberry plants under hoops
Photo 2 & 3: Open field blackberries
As we continued on we came across some small raspberry plants. This is a new item for Rancho Don Antonio. The plants you see here will start to produce in a small way in about 6 weeks. He is testing 3 different varieties, to see which do best on his land, and his specific microclimate. This week he will be planting another few acres of raspberries – again, to stage the production and allow for supply over a longer period of time.
Tony also has 3 acres of blueberries that have been producing over the last couple months, and will come back into production in the late fall. He will be planting an additional 3 acres next year, on a piece of land that’s at higher elevation, and should do well in the cooler months as a result. This plot will be under hoops as well. I am standing on that land in the photo taken below, which also gives a nice overview of the property.
Tony rents bees to assist with pollination, check out the hives!
Earl’s Organic is thrilled to supply our customers with Rancho Don Antonio’s fantastic berries year round!