Wow! What a wonderful trip to this icon of fruit farms in Sunnyvale, California! A group of us visited C.J.Olson Cherries www.cjolsoncherries.com for a tour of their orchard and retail store. We were joined by Kellie an employee of Martha Stewart who has recently moved to San Francisco from New York. Our guide for the day was Deborah Olson, fourth generation owner.
Deborah proudly explained the history of their current location on West El Camino Real since 1899 with some great anecdotal storytelling about when she was a young girl working for the family business, delivering delicious Lebanese food prepared by her aunt to the rest of the family. She spoke of the two main groups of employees that worked for her family…primarily families from Saudi Arabia and Mexico and shared that the company still employs a couple of women who are in their eighties!
We walked over to an active orchard where picking was being done. A bonus was a visit from her father who rode up in his pick-up and greeted us all warmly and then proceeded to explain how badly the cherry crop this year has been affected by the rain! 36,000 growing acres throughout the state normally produce 9+ million pounds of cherries annually but his year produced only little more than half that amount! Devastating cracks and mold ruined the crops and cost the industry dearly. In the orchard we were treated to a tasting of 7 different varieties of cherries from Garnet to Rainier to Bing…only a very few of the hundreds of varieties of cherries! Who knew?
Afterwards, we returned to the chamring authentic looking circa 1950′s retail store where we were served delicious cherry pie, chocolate covered cherries, and a light, flavorful cherry juice! We all made purchases from the beautifully displayed items for sale ranging from fresh fruit and jams to nutritional supplement tablets made from cherries that are purported to help with joint pain! We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and are grateful to the generous hospitality of our hostess, Deborah and her staff! We’ll be back to see and sample the apricots…my personal favorite fruit of the summer!