Imagine the thrill of discovering healthy, insect-and-disease-free fruit and nut trees, long-forgotten and growing untended for 100 years, and laden with perfect, delicious and distinctive fruits. Turn this passion of saving exceptional trees into a 45-year endeavor and you have the lifework of 12th-generation-Californian Amigo Bob Cantisano in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
I’ll be seeing Amigo next week in Big Sur at the second Agrarian Elders Gathering (http://www.nytimes.com/…/business/the-elders-of-organic-far…). We’ll be sure and keep you posted. Jim
“’It is absolutely just the most hearty tree,’ he says, looking at the tree like it’s a friend. ‘It’s thrown huge crops every year in the drought. It doesn’t get diseases, it doesn’t get insects. Nobody prunes it, nobody waters it, nobody fertilizes it, and it is just prolific as heck. I’ve picked over 500 pounds of pears off of it.’
“Cantisano says these resilient heirloom trees have lessons for growers in California today, where highly tended crops face drought, pests and disease.
“‘If we can figure out how to take those characteristics and meld them into modern agriculture, we’re going to have a more sustainable agriculture,’ he says.”