One of my memories as a youngster was going up to Paradise, Butte County, with my family in the fall to get apples. I continued that tradition recently by visiting with Joe and Laurie Noble at Noble Orchards, 7050 Pentz Road, Paradise. Since 1921 the family operation has been selling local apples and today they not only have apples, but other varieties of fruit.
Paradise, which is at about 2,000-foot elevation, was once a major California apple producing area. Today Noble Orchards, who sells all their production at the farm and farmers’ market, is the only commercial apple operation in the area. There are about 35,000 acres of bearing apple orchards in California with the bulk of the production in the Central Valley Noble has about 60 varieties of apples and of those 30 are available from them at different times of year. They are very proud of their Red Delicious and Pink Lady Apples.
I took a tour with Jim of the orchard in his 1941 Willys Jeep. They face unique farming challenges as they are surrounded by development which has forced a herd of about 20 deer to call their orchard home. Also you could see evidence of a bear that had visited the orchard. Like many California farms the orchard is on drip irrigation.
Back at the shed and retail area I had a chance to visit with Laurie as regular customers dropped in to purchase apples and the last peaches of the year. She knew most of the customers and what they were there for. The retail area is part of the old packing shed that has been used for 95 years. Not only do they have apples, but also Laurie’s famous apple butter, apple cider, local honey, olive oil and other products.
We are so lucky in the Sacramento Valley to have so many farm stands and farmers markets where farmers sell directly to the customer. Do yourself a favor and stop in at one of them and buy fresh produce. The prices are reasonable and the chance to visit with the grower is priceless.