A journal of Food Adventures
by writer/photographer Julie Ann Fineman
and writer Lee Glenn


Help plant a "Mother Orchard" with the strongest, drought and pest resistant wild trees and vines found in California

By guest blogger Amigo Bob Cantisano

Even Plants come with a Strong Story

Almost 45 years ago, while rambling high in the Sierra mountains, I stumbled upon an abandoned 100 year old orchard and was astonished to find apple, pear, plum and cherry trees brimming with the most delicious fruit he had ever tasted. Over the years, with a team of fruit explorers, we've discovered thousands of heirloom food producing trees that were planted in mining camps, farms, and ranches in the Sierra Nevada during the Gold Rush era of 1850-1900. Our mission is to plant a 'Mother orchard' to preserve these hardy, unique and delicious heirloom trees and make them available to gardeners and farmers everywhere.

Creating a Gold Rush-Era Heirloom Orchard

With your support we will develop a one-acre "Mother" Orchard filled with over 200 heirloom fruit and nut trees, roses and grapes, preserving the best of the genetics we can find, before the original trees fade from existence. We have been searching for, tasting, researching and evaluating these heirloom gems from the Gold Rush mining days for over 40 years.The individual varieties of almonds, walnuts, filberts, chestnuts, wine grapes, table grapes, strawberries, prunes, plums, apples, pears, raspberries, roses and more, will be planted into a mother block at Heaven and Earth Farm and nursery on the San Juan Ridge, Nevada County, CA in the heart of the Gold Country. Our team will care for the orchard and plants and utilize the trees' growth as propagation materials that we can distribute widely through our non profit nursery business.

The Value of 150-year-old Food Producing Trees

It's critical to preserve these heirlooms, and my dream is to bring the best of these plants from the 1800's into the 21st century --  to propagate and reintroduce the best heirlooms back into society. These heirloom fruit and nut trees are remarkably flavorful, resistant to drought and resistant to pests -- we've found plants that don't need any sprays. A tree that can survive 150 years without human intervention is incredible, especially when we consider that today's tree's typically only last 25-35 years, even with the best farmers help.

Help us to protect these amazing varieties before the 'Grandmother' trees die away, and we will develop the "Mother Heirloom" orchard - which will allow us to preserve these hardy trees from extinction, and protect and cultivate the foundation stock.  We are so excited to have you put our trees in your garden, orchard or farm and have you share with us the mysteries and joys of growing delicious heirloom fruits, grapes and nuts.

The Felix Gillet Institute

The Felix Gillet Institute, a non-profit educational organization, was founded in 2003  to identify, preserve and propagate the best of the varieties of edible fruit and nut trees still thriving in the mining camps, farms, homesteads and towns of the Sierra, and elsewhere. True permaculture plants, these 125+ year survivors show great resistance to harsh weather, drought, insect and disease attack, and often produce remarkable, extremely flavorful crops with little or no human assistance.

Be apart of it, here's a video to learn more and to help us grow.

Come visit,

Amigo Bob

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