Santa Clara “Valley of Heart’s Delight” to Silicon Valley [video]

Apricot orchard views in Coyote Valley

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.

Slow pace

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.

Farms and open space

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.

From Santa Clara Valley to Silicon Valley.

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.

Spring promise

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.

Apricot harvest from Saratoga

Orchard Photography Copyright © 2018 by Eric Larson

5 comments on “Santa Clara “Valley of Heart’s Delight” to Silicon Valley [video]”:

  1. I share your deep feeling for the Valley of Heart’s Delight. My home town, Campbell, was dubbed, “The Orchard City.” I cut apricots in the summer, of course. It seems like every kid who grew up in Santa Clara Valley did, if you go by the hundreds Facebook posts at San Jose History page.

    I’m finishing up a middle-grade reader set in the valley in 1959. I call it Golden Valley. I was looking for some background on the orchards and came upon you that way. What a great gift this will make.

    I’m posting a the blurb you’ve written at and the book cover on San Jose History Facebook page. If it’s been posted before, no worries. We’ll do it again. Congratulations! What an accomplishment!

    1. Thank you Diane! I appreciate your enthusiasm to capture and share the memories of the Valley of Heart’s Delight that our generation still holds. I believe there is still a possibility to revitalize the region in a way the restores some of it agricultural heritage. One of the reasons I wrote the book was the joy I saw on the face of every person I shared the idea with. There truly is a love of apricots, orchards, and the history of the region. When you complete the reader, I hope you will share it with me.

  2. I loved your video Lisa, thank you for bringing the “fruitfull” past of Santa Clara Valley to folks. I moved to Campbell (from San Francisco) as an 8 year old in the early 60s and remember the orchards so well. My very first job was picking prunes! As a life-long gardener I truly mourn the wonderful growing region of the Valley of Heart’s Delight – I always tell people “You can grow computers anywhere, but not fruit” and the Santa Clara has such a special climate and soil…

  3. Hi Lisa, thank you for recording and preserving this part of Santa Clara Valley’s past. I too grew up in Willow Glen and moved to Saratoga in 1963 so your memories are much like mine. We might have crossed paths somewhere back then. Can’t wait to get a copy of your book and enjoy following you on Instagram!!

  4. Hey Lisa! Great interview! I loved the poem and your stories of the area. Btw, is there a “like” button on your page? I couldn’t find it.

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