Visiting the Barton Family Ranch

The “home ranch”—originally purchased and founded by Perry F. Barton, in 1912.

The first thing you’ll notice is a small home near the ranch office just after you enter the property. This was the home of Perry’s son and daughter-in-law, Paul and Alice Barton. They raised their two sons, Hugh and Jerry in this home, and it still stands proudly today. It has housed at least three different families of Bartons throughout its history and is a living testament to the family’s roots on this land and our heritage as farmers.

Just beyond the home, at the top of the near by bluff, you can see the orchards spread out below us. The ranch is planted on some of the finest soil in California. Why is it so special? It’s river bottom soil, deposited over thousands of years by the Stanislaus River which flows through the property. It’s ideal for growing walnut trees. It is deep, well-drained, and rich in nutrients. As you look to the east, you can see the foothills and on a clear day you can see the mighty Sierra Nevada Mountains rising majestically beyond. It’s one of the great perks of working on the ranch.

From the bluff, as you descend down the hill into the orchards, we’re surrounded by lush foliage. It’s shady here on the orchard floor, and much cooler than when we were up on the bluff exposed to the California sun. And it’s here as we look into the interior of the trees with the sunlight dappled through the branches that we get a hint of what kind of walnut crop we hope to have when harvest comes. We look to see how large the nuts are on the trees, and we try to get a feel for how many “doubles” we see. (We get especially excited about seeing lots of “triples”, though those come less frequently.)

As the sign to the entrance of our property informed you, we call our business the “Barton Ranch” as opposed to the “farm” or the “grove” or some other moniker. Most people think of a “ranch” as a place where cattle are raised. But here in California, a ranch refers to just about any agricultural endeavor whether we’re raising cattle, oranges, olives, almonds or walnuts! For the Bartons, “Walnuts R Us”. We’ve been at it for over a hundred years now. One more thing about our use of the word “ranch”. Here in California, you don’t have to have a huge spread in order for this term to apply to your property. There are lots of 40-acre ranches here. The one commonality is that every farmer loves his land and tries his best to be a good steward of it. As we say “God isn’t going to make any more of it, so we’d better take good care of what we have.”