Didar Singh Khalsa
Didar Singh Khalsa and two partners bought the farm in 1981. During the week Didar worked washing windows and running restaurants in the Sacramento area and would tend the farm on Saturdays. After 9 years of this schedule he finally bought out the other owners. Once the farm began to be profitable he moved there full time.
“I like formal gardens planted informally. Formal gardens alone are like a piece of music all in major keys — there’s no contrast,” says Didar.
“To create a holy place, people get together and bow in reverence. That act of reverence is what makes something sacred. You can feel it when you go into a place like a cathedral. People have had a devotional attitude about it, and the place keeps that and reverberates it back. It works with a farm, too. If you love it and have a reverential attitude toward it and are grateful for what it gives you, ultimately it works better. Things taste better, and ultimately you probably make more money.”
Chef Canales says “Didar has as high standards as we do. He will direct you away from products he feels aren’t exceptional and direct you toward what is…and he is always correct. If it is not exceptional he won’t let you buy it. We buy a lot of stone fruit, figs, and citrus from Didar.”
April and May are the slowest months. Mid-winter is busy along with the high summer months of July and August.
Didar loves trees. He especially likes that they are always growing. He chooses tree varieties not for early maturity or other market considerations, but for their taste, their color, and their intrigue.
Didar’s crops tend to ripen a week earlier than the same crops on other farms in Northern California. This gives him an advantage selling at a higher price. Because he has planted older varieties whose fruit colors only when it is truly ripe (unlike modern varieties) it is easier to know exactly when to harvest. He says, “What diversity demands in attention it pays back in vitality.”
Length of relationship with Oliveto
16 acres near Esparto about 25 miles west of Sacramento
50% citrus. The rest is a mix of fruit and nut trees including lemons, oranges, plums, cherries, pears, kumquats, almonds, walnuts, figs, apricots, and persimmons.
CCOF since 1981
90% through Farmers’ Markets
Berkeley Derby Street – Tuesdays
Marin County – Thursdays
Berkeley Downtown – Saturdays