You may see a lot of these boxes around Lassen's this time of year because Buck Brands is the local source for much of our citrus. I had a great visit with Lisle, who owns and runs Buck Brands.
The Buck Brand Citrus groves are outside of Bakersfield, and it was so great to tour their 370 beautiful organic acres. Some of this property has been planted in citrus trees for over 100 years. Lisle showed me some navel trees that were planted in 1905!
|This is one of the navel orange trees that are over 100 years old!|
Lisle bought the acreage in 1987 to grow sweet limes. He also continued to nurture the trees that were on the property, and in 2002 converted the operation to become organic (which is a three year process.) He didn't have to make very many changes, however, since he had used very few chemicals on his trees. He had never waxed the fruit, either, but had only brushed them to remove the dust.
|This is a mango orange. It has a very sweet, non-acidic flavor that is great for people who don't like the acidity of most citrus. I love the pinkish tint to the flesh!|
Lisle also nurtures new varieties of oranges and other citrus. Citrus will naturally form new varieties on existing trees, and the farmers recognize the new varieties and then cultivate them. This happened several years ago when he found a new bud on a navel tree, and now he grows many trees of the variety that he calls "Lou Lou" oranges (after his wife, Mary Lou) because they are, as he said, "smooth and sweet."
|These are the smooth and sweet Lou Lou Navels, named after Lisle's wife!|
I had a grand tour of so many varieties of citrus trees, it was hard to keep track of all of them! But one of the favorite varieties that we love at Lassen's is the CaraCara.
Lisle always makes sure that his fruit is tree-ripened, so you never have to wonder if the fruit is ready. This fruit was not quite sweet enough, but the trees are so beautiful!
|I took this picture from underneath the branches of the tree. Can we all say thank-you to the workers who have to climb in and out and up and down the trees to harvest the fruit for us?|
If you have tried the Gold Grapefruit, you know what I am talking about. It you have yet to try them, are in for a treat!
When I visited, the pink grapefruit was ready and sweet.
Another of our favorite citrus fruit that we get from Buck Brands are their TDE Tangerines. They will be sweet and ready for harvest soon, so watch for them! They are delicious!
One really fun thing to see are the unusual kinds of citrus that Lisle cultivates. I love these finger limes--the fruit inside looks like lime caviar! Lisle gave me a bag of them and I used them for salsa, guacamole, and in Indian dishes--we are hoping to carry these limes when they are back in season! It tastes like little droplets of lime goodness that burst when you bite them! All of the little beads are loose in the skin--you just squeeze and they come out.
And look at these variegated pink lemons! So pretty!
This is one of the craziest fruits that I saw at Buck Brands--what do you think? It is a variety of citron, and is used primarily for the zest. It's called Buddha's Hand Citron.
I was so happy to hear about how Lisle takes care of his workers as well. He does all of the hiring of his workers (he doesn't contract out to a third party) so he knows his workers and takes care of them, season after season. He even provides a company health plan for his workers.
I had a great time with Lisle at the Buck Brands Citrus groves. I think he would have kept me there several more hours, sharing with me his enthusiasm and love for the land and his trees.
Thank you Lisle, for a great time!
And please enjoy the beautiful fruit that we carry at Lassen's! It is grown with care and love!