Barton Family History

It All Started Here

Walnut orchard in the 1930sIn 1910, Perry Franklin Barton, a former country doctor from Illinois, traveled to California where he saw, first-hand, the dramatic changes taking place in the San Joaquin Valley. Many of these changes were due to the advent of controlled irrigation. During his fairly extensive travels from Los Angeles in the south to Chico in the north, Barton saw a wide variety of crops. He was amazed by the impressive yields and extent of California’s booming, yet still nascent, agricultural industry. Perry Barton and his sons rode to California on a boxcar from their homestead. After two years of careful study and consideration, he purchased land near the towns of Escalon and Oakdale, and the Barton Ranch was established in 1912. The development of the farm required years and years of extremely hard work. The land, when originally purchased, was overrun with native riparian vegetation that had to be removed by hand with the aid of a horse and a plow.

The Barton Brothers Walnut HullerThe farm was originally planted to grow prunes and a few acres of walnuts. The prunes were removed in the mid-1930's and replaced with walnuts. The farm grew under the management of Perry’s sons, Paul and Bert, who also invented and patented a machine to remove the green hull from the outer shell of the walnut. This invention resulted in the formation of a manufacturing business that they named Barton Brothers Walnut Hullers. Paul purchased Bert’s interest in both the orchards and the manufacturing business in 1947. He then invented a tree shaker and other types of farm equipment that served the needs of over 1,000 satisfied customers. The orchards encompassed nearly 200 acres by the time of his death in 1961.

Jerry BartonPaul’s son, Jerry, took over the management of the family farm in the late 1950's, leading to additional expansion of the Escalon ranch. In the late 1960's, the Ripon farm was purchased with almost annual plantings of tree crops, consummated in 1980. It was then that the Spring Creek Ranch Partnership was formed, enabling the Bartons to develop another 300 orchard acres in the early 1980's. In 1996, the former Knott’s Berry Farm property adjacent to the Escalon ranch was purchased. The Bartons then entered into a management/ consultation agreement on yet another piece of property in Oakdale. Both of these properties were developed into orchards in 1998. More recent purchases include a former cattle ranch near the town of Farmington. Additional expansion is contemplated in the years ahead.

Brent, Gary and crewThe Bartons’ prowess and experience in farming and the walnut industry runs deep. Jerry Barton served as Chairman and CEO of Diamond Walnut Growers – the world’s largest processor and marketer of walnuts in the world – in the late 1980's and early 1990's. He remains very active in the family business. His sons, Gary and Brent, manage the farming business, Brent since 1986, and Gary since 1993.

Brent was named, Outstanding Young Farmer by the California Farm Bureau in 1991 and, again, by the California Jaycees in 1992. Gary Barton returned to the management of the family business in 1993. Gary’s background is in commercial real estate and international asset management. Don Barton has spent his lifetime in the food processing and marketing business and joined the team in 2003 to head up GoldRiver Orchards.

Don, Brent and Gary BartonWe are very excited to have welcomed the first member of the fifth generation in the family business at the end of 2008. Don’s middle son, Josh, graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Agribusiness Management. He now manages our newest property, a 640 acre ranch in Farmington. The ranch has completed the first of three phases of walnut planting, with the final two phases scheduled for completion in 2010 and 2011. The ranch has also completed olive plantings for the production of olive oil.