When you drive up the road to Citrona Farms, you know you are in for something special. This 480-acre farm, named for one of the original valley train stops, has been consciously cultivated into a thriving walnut orchard for more than 30 years. Owners Daniel Hrdy and his wife Sarah B. Hrdy – both retired UC Davis professors of medicine and anthropology, respectively – purchased the land in 1986 to realize their shared dream to combine farming with habitat restoration and Yolo County seemed the perfect place. They started by bringing their three children on the weekends to the property which, at that point, was “just raptors and weeds.” They moved here permanently in 1990.
The Hrdys have invested a lot of time and energy over the years, and that investment is visible everywhere. All the trees you see were planted by them, from the cork oaks started from acorns that Sarah brought back the UCD campus, the valley, blue and interior live oaks that dot the sheep pastures, the willows in the middle of the irrigation pond with a ‘Monet’s garden’ feel, to the tall, fire-resistant cypresses that lead to their home. This pond was subject of a Palette Knife Painting Demo by Rhonda Egan – Art and Ag’s first virtual plein air demo!
Artists were welcomed to explore this vast property with numerous orchards of Tulare and Chandler walnuts, the north and south branches of Perkins Canyon Slough, and the expanded riparian corridors on either side of the canals that run through the tomato and sunflower fields. They also caught a glimpse of the feral peacocks that live in and around them.
One notable structure that was extremely popular was the big redwood barn built in the 1900s. This was originally where mules used for transporting goods in WWI were raised. It now serves as headquarters for farm manager Darrell Valenzuela who, along with his father Frank have lived on the property for decades. Artists will be interested to see the collection of farm artifacts that Mr. Valenzuela Sr. has collected, curated and displayed. Beyond this historic building and the grassy meadows is the dark ridge line of the distant Coast Range.
The hedgerows – home to saltbush, coffeeberry, coyote brush, elderberry, deer grass, and Himalayan blackberries – serve as a rich habitat for birds and insects and are important examples of the Hrdys’ dedication to habitat restoration. They consider themselves to be ‘stewards of the land’ and continue to preserve the farm’s beauty and sustainability through innovation and partnerships with UC Davis and UC Berkeley researchers.
Learn more about Citrona Farms HERE +
Visit an online gallery from the visit HERE +