Gold Ridge Farm Tour: The Present

Official Dedication Ceremony!

On a recent fall day, the Western Sonoma County Historical Society held a Dedication Ceremony and Open House for its new barn and greenhouse. Many, many people showed up to visit the Farm; they came for the dedication, the tours, and no doubt, the beautiful fall colors. Hal Skinner, the Farm's Director, is the gentleman in the straw hat. He is addressing the large gathering. It was just a terrific fall afternoon - congratulations to the WSCHS for all their hard work!

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New Greenhouse!

We continue our tour, going to the back of the barn as we head towards Spot #6. Members of the Western Sonoma County Historical Society are putting the finishing touches on the new greenhouse seen here. This greenhouse will be used to raise some Burbank plant varieties for use on the Farm and also for sale to the Farm's visitors.

Witness Tree

The large tree off in the distance is actually Spot #6, the "Royal" Black Walnut. To get to it, you would cross a large open field. This tree was planted by Luther Burbank in 1885, the year he purchased the Farm. He planted the tree on the property's boundary as a "witness" tree to the property line. This tree still produces a great walnut crop each year.

Jerusalem Pears

To get to this spot, we've gone back past the barn and slightly off the beaten path. This small grove of trees is Spot #7, the Jerusalem Pear trees. Although it isn't visible in this photo, these trees have small clusters of fruit. The fruit doesn't look anything like a pear, and isn't really edible. In Mr. Burbank's time, this was mainly a tree used for its prettiness, not its fruit. Mr. Burbank thought the fruit had the potential to become a tasty crop, but wasn't successful in changing the fruit's taste to the point that the trees would be grown for their fruit, not their looks.

Looking into the Heart of the Farm


At this point, we're back on the path. The barn is behind us to our left and the grape arbor is in view to the right.

Van Deman Quince

We've moved down the path, arriving at Spot #8, the "Van Deman" quince. This is a species of quince created by Mr. Burbank. The quince produces a fuzzy fruit that is edible when it is ripe and well-cooked. When Mr. Burbank created a new species, he didn't just create new species for the growing climate in Sonoma County. In his time, the quince was a fairly common fruit, especially in the Midwest, so he worked hard to create new and improved quince species. Mr. Burbank was what we call today a "global thinker;" he thought about the needs of people all over the world.

It took over 75,000 seedlings to produce this new quince species. Mr. Burbank claimed that, under the right conditions, this variety of quince could produce 3 different crops a year. A pineapple quince sapling, another Burbank creation, is growing near this plant.

Ripe Quince on the Tree

Okay - I admit it; I'm breaking the "rules" for a virtual tour. This last two photos were taken in September, way after the rest of the photos on this tour. Since most people haven't seen quinces, it seemed like a good idea to show some of these fruit. They look sort of like lumpy apples...

Actual Quince Fruit!

Here's a close-up of the fruit...Mr. Burbank developed three major types of quince: the Van Deman (shown here), the Pineapple, and the Burbank.

How about some Quince?

To check out some actual quince recipes, click here.

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