Food & Wine

Food Brief

Gather chestnuts on Skyline Boulevard

Chestnuts are available for u-picking through the day before Thanksgiving at the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District orchard in the hills above Palo Alto. The 150-year-old chestnut orchard is part of the district's farm leases in which growers lease district land to produce local crops.

Since 2004, Hans and Donna Johsens have leased the orchard next to the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve. They provide pickers with buckets, gloves and advice as needed.

The orchard is open 9 a.m. until dusk. A sign along Skyline Boulevard south of the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve directs drivers up a dirt road to the orchard. The nuts can be gathered from the ground only and cost $5.25 per pound.

The local tradition is that a Spaniard planted the 119 trees at approximately the time California became a state in 1850. The trunks have grown to 4 feet in diameter, with canopies spread over 50 feet. Most are European chestnut trees, although four may be American hybrids.

Call (408) 395-0337 for updated orchard information.

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