Good Fruit Grower

October 2016

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26 OCTOBER 2016 Good Fruit Grower Albano's orchard Cuyama Arvin Bakersfi eld La Cañada 5 5 20 MILES Los Angeles N Paci�ic Ocean Area of detail CALIFORNIA A long commute Byron Albano drives two hours on both interstate and twisty mountainous highways from his home north of Los Angeles to reach his remote orchard in the Cuyama Valley in Southern California. From there, his packing facility is more than an hour away in Arvin, southeast of Bakersfi eld. JARED JOHNSON/GOOD FRUIT GROWER B yron Albano is one of the southernmost apple growers on the West Coast but has a late season. He has plenty of water but no surface irrigation. He lives in the Los Angeles suburbs but farms in a remote mountain hideaway. "One of the things I love out here is your cell phone doesn't ring," he said, surveying his family's 316-acre Cuyama Orchards abutting the Los Padres National Forest. Welcome to life at 3,300 feet in the Cuyama Valley, a rugged region of pinyon pine, manzanita and sagebrush that belies its proximity to metropolitan sprawl. About 20 years ago, the Cuyama Valley was home to some 2,500 acres of apples. His parents, Howard and Jean, also live in the Los Angeles area but spent half their days in Cuyama cutting their blocks out of the hills. Byron, now 50, helped but mostly concentrated on marketing. Around the year 2000, the market glutted. To survive, The solitary orchard Southern California apple grower combines urban life with rural farming. by Ross Courtney photos by TJ Mullinax A tour of Byron Albano's orchards in California's Cuyama Valley in March. The orchards rest high in the Sierra Madre Mountains, across a dry riverbed leading out of Los Padres National Forest. leaders overhead in a hoop to help control vigor.

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