Suisun Valley is this Locavore's Delight by Barbara L. Steinberg©
After departing with my bread bonanza, I headed into the rolling hills and green fields of Suisun Valley. I have visited many times but I always run out of time before I run out of travel...this is my new favorite phrase. This latest outing I had two very specific places in mind: Willotta Ranch and 99 Cherry Orchard. This was a very convenient because they're both on Rockville Road. And unbelievably, just a few miles from busy Interstate 5 and Fairfield California.
The Willotta Ranch was named after William and Loretta (Lottie) Pierce who owned and operated the ranch in the early 1900s. Their grandson, Lewis Pierce III, introduced Kiwifruit to the ranch in 1972 before it became popular. Lewis' daughter, Linda Pierce Wedemeyer inherited the ranch in 1991 and operated it for only two years before she died of cancer leaving the ranch in trust to her three children. Linda's husband, Austin, operates the ranch today.
The Willotta Ranch farm stand is open seasonally. Located on Rockville Road inside an old roadside market it doesn't scream, "HEY! The best darn kiwis this side of kiwi heaven!" And organic too, by the way. There's a few small signs along the way directing you. Slow down, enjoy the ride, and don't miss the turn-in. They'll be closing down December 31. They box and ship domestically anywhere you want kiwis to be. Makes a great gift! Margie was there to greet me the day I stopped by. Her family has worked at the ranch for decades. She makes kiwi-pineapple jam and dried kiwi, which is also sold at the stand.
Hurry over! Next year fruit stand is in question as Austin heads off on a newly-wed adventure -- congratulations!We hope that future generations won't be deprived of this Suisun Valley gem. But farming is hard work, requiring lots of dedication. The Willotta Ranch legacy has been all that...and more!
More to come on neighboring 99 Cherry Orchard...stay tuned.