Business is booming for Northern California peach farmers
It's always a peachy good time at Manas Ranch in Esparto. At least it has been for the last 30 years for Fred Manas and his wife, Alice, who run the ranch, which lies near the foothills of the Capay Valley in Yolo County, partway between San Francisco and Sacramento.
It all began when Fred bought the ranch from his parents in 1980. He and Alice cleaned it up and planted the peach orchard that still stands today. They decided to sell their peaches directly to the consumer off the ranch. First they started selling peaches off of the patio, under a big pecan tree in the shade by their house, with help from their family members. They eventually grew from that location to a covered shade area by the barn, then to the current packingshed and store.
The Manases have been marketing their own fruit for more than 20 years now. "Everything we do is direct-marketed," Alice says. All but a small fraction, which they sell at the Esparto farmers market, is sold on the farm itself.
Alice sends out about 5,000 postcards to customers every year, letting them know when the store is open and which fruit is being harvested. She sends three or four cards a year to each customer as different fruits ripen. Although most of their customers come from Northern California, others are from out of state. Some plan their vacation based on when a certain variety will be ripe.
The store is open seven days a week during the harvest season. Every day, some 800 to 1,000 pounds of peaches are sold through the store in 5-, 10- and 20-pound boxes. Customers can watch through a window as peaches are sorted, graded and packed. They can buy all three grades: first and second quality, and soft, which are too soft to pack, but perfect for cooking and making jam.
For more information about Manas Ranch, visit www.manasranch.com.