There are places in the Bay Area where time is relative. They are still to be found close by cities and suburbs in each county. Places where you can feel like one foot is standing in the past century, when you or your parents and grandparents lived their lives at a different pace. Back then, shopping was more local, food was grown nearby, commutes were shorter, and children played for long hours outdoors, coming home to their mother’s whistle.
I clearly remember the dirt of our orchard in every season: dusty dry in the summer; tawny green in the fall; dark, heavy mud in winter; and carpeted with yellow mustard in the spring. With the luxury of a child’s time, walking and playing there connected me to each season’s bird songs, bug sounds, and the smells of earth, blossoms, and fruit. Growing up in the era when Santa Clara County was still known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight shaped my values and life in simple but profound ways.
As I share my orchard memories with readers, many share theirs in response – I call these my “apricot love letters.” In this exchange, there is a reverberation of joy and sorrow over the profound change in the landscape of our past. Also, appreciation for the farmers who remain and continue to produce exceptional fruit and vegetables. This has been a theme in my blog posts and also in my cookbook/memoir, For the Love of Apricots. Recently, I was invited to be interviewed on TV about my passion for apricots and the region’s history by Kamla Bhatt. It was a great pleasure to talk with Kamla, who is keenly interested in the place now known as the Silicon Valley. I encourage you to watch and enjoy the result of our conversation.
I believe it is not too late to shape a better future with orchards, farms, and open space close to the communities in our region. There is still time to avoid a future where our fruit and vegetables must be shipped in from faraway places. One small step many of us can take is to plant a fruit tree in your own yard or community garden. I plan to add a fourth apricot tree to my yard this winter and anticipate the beauty, fragrance, and fruit it will bring for years to come.
Another simple action is to visit the farms and orchards that remain nearby. While buying their produce, take a moment to talk to the owners about their work, the challenges of farming in the region today, and their plans for the future. The fate of agriculture in the Bay region will take creative, community action. Small steps like these can make a difference in your quality of life and that of your family, friends, and community.
Orchard Photography Copyright © 2018 by Eric Larson