Saratoga began as a frontier town and an industrial settlement before becoming an agricultural hub with many fruit orchards and vineyards. Saratoga’s bountiful fruit harvests made it a popular trading post. Glen Una was one of the largest prune ranches in the area, and the Blossom Festival started as a result of agricultural influences. Saratoga, and the valley as a whole, transformed its identity once again and Saratoga became a residential community.
The Heritage Orchard was designated as a City park in 1984 in recognition of the City's agricultural heritage. It was designated as a Heritage Landmark by the City in 1988. The Heritage Orchard is now one of the few remaining orchards in the Bay Area. It includes plum, apricot, and cherry trees. In 2020, the City Council adopted the Heritage Orchard Master Plan, which was developed by the Heritage Preservation Commission.
Community Harvest - Closed
The Community Harvest season is now closed. During the harvest season, the community is invited to collect fruit in the Saratoga Heritage Orchard as part of City-sanctioned harvest events or activities. Community Harvest Days are scheduled based on orchard and fruit conditions. Subscribe to the City newsletter to get notified when future Community Harvests are announced.
In addition to the Community Harvest, City is collaborating with Village Harvest to collect fruit from the Heritage Orchard to be donated to local food banks. In 2020, community members volunteered with Village Harvest to gather more than 6,000 pounds of fruit that was donated. Village Harvest is a nonprofit volunteer organization that works to provide food for people in need, promote sustainable use of urban resources, and preserve agricultural heritage and skills. Visit the Village Harvest website to learn more about how you can volunteer to be part of this effort.
The City works with an orchard maintenance contractor for the care of the Heritage Orchard. Some of the common maintenance practices are noted below by season.
- Perform pest management following integrated pest management practices
- Prune cherries and plums
- Plant new trees
- Manage understory
- Perform pest management
- Thin the crop to prevent limb breakage and to size up the fruit
- Harvest cherries, apricots, and prune plums
- Prune apricots
- Manage cover crop/understory
Integrated Pest Management
The Heritage Orchard is maintained using integrated pest management principles. Integrated pest management focuses on the prevention of pests through a combination of ecosystem-based techniques, such as habitat manipulation and other natural options. Fungicide and insecticide are only used in the Heritage Orchard if necessary. Additionally, only organic (OMRI approved) products are used when spraying is needed. Examples of integrated pest management practices include the planting of native, flowering shrubs that provide a habitat for predatory insects and birds that eat orchard pests.
Heritage Orchard Cover Crop
Various plants can be found below the canopy of the trees in the Heritage Orchard. The space below the tree canopy is also referred to as the understory. These plants in the understory are a cover crop that has been intentionally planted to support the health of the Heritage Orchard. The use of cover crops in orchards is very common, dating back to the Roman Empire. Cover crops eliminate the need for annual discing, prevent soil erosion, regulate moisture, attract pollinators, and provide natural weed and pest management. Additionally, the cover crop helps feeds nutrients into the soil, encouraging a healthy microbiology in the soil that helps the Heritage Orchard trees stay healthy and withstand stress throughout the year.