Business & Real Estate

After 120 years, Orangevale’s last commercial orchards to close

Do you like fresh fruit? A drive to Orangevale will make you happy!

Vicky Tomich Allen offers up freshly-picked peaches, apricots, figs, and other fruit at Tom Tomich Orchards in Orangevale where her family has been growing since 1897.
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Vicky Tomich Allen offers up freshly-picked peaches, apricots, figs, and other fruit at Tom Tomich Orchards in Orangevale where her family has been growing since 1897.

An end of an agricultural era is near in Sacramento County.

Tom Tomich Orchards, Orangevale’s last commercial fruit operation, is shutting down in midseason. Aug. 31 will be the final day its popular fruit stand is open to the public.

With more than 2,000 fruit trees, the 20-acre farm had been operated by the same family for five generations. It just celebrated its 120th anniversary earlier this summer.

Vicky Tomich Allen, Tom’s daughter and the farm’s manager, delivered the bad news via email to many of the orchards’ longtime customers. Others got a note tucked into their bag of peaches or nectarines.

“I can tell if they’ve read the letter,” Allen said Wednesday. “If they haven’t heard the news, they’re all smiles when they arrive. If they have read it, they’re in tears. ... Our community is just devastated.”

Allen, who also teaches school, had been running the orchards and fruit stand for several years as her father’s health declined. She expected this year’s season to last until Thanksgiving.

“I was picking fruit at 6 this morning,” Allen said Wednesday. “There’s all this fruit that won’t get picked. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

First planted in 1897, the farm grows 40 kinds of peaches, 24 varieties of nectarines, 20-plus kinds of plums and pluots plus several other fruit varieties. Its Black Mission figs date to the stagecoach era.

Ironically, this had been an excellent year for the orchards, Allen noted. This summer, the Tomich farm stand sold out of fruit each day, often by noon.

“I was very sad and angry to hear that our last remaining orchard is going to be closed soon,” said Orangevale’s Eileen Herrin, a regular customer. “We are supposed to be the agricultural center of the state. ... I love their peaches and Fantasia nectarines. Where will I ever find them now?”

The fate of the farm is now up to other family members, Allen said. Located on Filbert Avenue just north of Greenback Road, the property has not yet been sold.

In her letter, Allen said farewell to the farm’s customers.

“Dire circumstances, which are beyond my control, have entered into play, making it impossible for me to continue with this treasured endeavor,” she wrote. “The passion I feel for our century-plus farm is immense. I had hoped to run the orchard for another 10 years or so, but heart-wrenchingly, this is not to be. I have no idea what the future holds for our amazing legacy.”

Allen thanked customers and Orangevale for their support.

“Being an integral part of the Orangevale community has been a privilege,” she wrote. “I hope that you all have enjoyed our fruit as much as we have enjoyed growing it!”

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington

Tom Tomich Orchards

Where: 6331 Filbert Ave, Orangevale

When: Through Aug. 31. Fruit stand open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. or until sold out; closed Mondays and Thursdays.

Details: 916-988-0987

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