The Historic Orchard was one of the first elements of Guadalupe Gardens to be established. Planted by volunteers in January, 1994, the Orchard was laid out and is maintained in a traditional commercial manner. It is a tribute to our valley's agricultural heritage. The orchard is 3.3 acres in size and contains over 250 fruit trees. The varieties of fruit trees selected for inclusion represent the types of fruit grown historically in "The Valley of Heart's Delight."

There are 52 prune trees, 8 peaches, 52 apricots, 5 pears, 50 cherries, 7 apples and a "family orchard" section with a variety of different fruit trees reminiscent of what an individual family might have planted for its own use.

The Historic Orchard is maintained by volunteers who monitor the health of the trees and care for them through periodic work days.

Agricultural History
The Santa Clara Valley's first orchards were planted in the mid-18th Century by the missionary Fathers at Mission Santa Clara and Mission San Jose. These early orchards yielded a bountiful harvest in the rich valley soil.

By the time California became a state in 1850 there were many professional orchardists already established. In 1890 4.5 million fruit trees of numerous varieties graced the valley floor, including prunes, peaches, apricots, pears, cherries and apples.

At the end of World War I, 79,000 acres of Santa Clara Valley land were covered in orchards. The peak years occurred during the 1930s and the1940s, when the region was know worldwide as "The Valley of Heart's Delight" and the entire economy was tied to fruit production. At the height of this period, 100,000 acres were planted in orchards. Many were family orchards; others were large commercial enterprises. Almost everyone who lived in the Santa Clara Valley was engaged in the business of fruit production: growing, picking, packing, canning, selling, or otherwise supporting the industry.

In the mid-1950s the economy of the Santa Clara Valley began to change and the orchards started to disappear, replaced by housing tracts, highways, and new industry. Today, less than 5,300 acres of orchard land remain in Santa Clara County. Current residents have little to remind them of what once existed.

Future Plans
The Historic Orchard was developed as a demonstration orchard, and future plans call for utilizing it in educational programs. As part of "A Walk Through History" envisioned in the Master Plan for Guadalupe Gardens, the Orchard will be a living example of an earlier lifestyle and the economy that once drove the Valley, and a place where young people can come to experience a piece of local history.

As the trees in the Historic Orchard have begun to mature and produce fruit in significant amounts, the fruit is being donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara County.

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