Guru Ram Das Orchards – Profile

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Established 1981

Owner

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.”

Seasons

April and May are the slowest months.  Mid-winter is busy along with the high summer months of July and August.

Principles

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.

Practices

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

15 years

Location

16 acres near Esparto about 25 miles west of Sacramento

Crops

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.

Organization/Certification

CCOF since 1981

Distribution

90% through Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ markets

Berkeley Derby Street – Tuesdays

Marin County – Thursdays

Berkeley Downtown – Saturdays

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