By Melissa Mendonca
California Nut Festival in Chico
Not too far out Chico’s midway, an orchard-lined expanse of road leading into some of Butte County’s most picturesque and productive soil, stands Glenwood, a fully restored 1877 farmhouse. Surrounded by 270-year-old Valley Oaks, the home is the heart of the Patrick Ranch Museum, 28 acres of farmland and historic buildings dedicated to preserving the heritage of farming in the Sacramento Valley.
The building stands out in glory after 10 years of restoration that brought together the efforts of many to not only raise money, but to roll up sleeves and pound nails.
For the last five years, the California Nut Festival has supported the Patrick Ranch Museum as a fundraiser and an educational outreach event that supports the goals of the museum itself.
Kathy Chance, chair of the event, describes herself as a part-time farmer who, along with her husband, tends 50 acres of almonds. The couple has “a passion for farming” and loves to celebrate the importance of walnuts, almonds, pistachios and pecans to the area.
“We have to keep telling our story in new and different ways,” she says.
When visitors arrive at the California Nut Festival on Saturday, April 19, “they can get a hands-on education as they’re enjoying themselves on the historic grounds,” Chance says.
While local bands play on the porch of Glenwood and out on a tractor-trailer in the field, local vendors will showcase their wares in booths around the yard. A barn will be transformed into a gallery of agriculturally themed art, and prominent chefs will perform cooking demonstrations using regional ingredients.
“We strongly encourage them to have nuts in their dish,” says Chance of both the vendors and the chefs. She notes that when iconic Chico hangout Madison Bear Garden shows up to showcase its popular Jiffy
Burger, the peanut butter gets switched up to locally produced almond butter for the day.
“We celebrate all things that are made and grown in the North State,” says Chance. That includes “local people using local products to make something.”
Chef demonstrations will feature the work of Ashley Hosmore of Chico restaurant Mom’s, and Jay Veregge of Sacramento’s ten22 restaurant. Veregge is known for his commitment to the Farm to Fork movement, while Hosmore oversees the kitchen of downtown Chico’s busiest destination for breakfast and lunch, serving comfort food including house-made bacon and sausage and local cheeses whenever possible. Enloe Hospital’s new chef will round out the day with demonstrations of heart-healthy recipes.
Organizations that support the local agriculture industry will also be on hand to educate visitors about issues as diverse as watersheds, bee production and crop varieties.
Food vendors range from restaurants to specialty producers of products as diverse as local olive oils, wines, honey and sauces. Visitors receive six food tasting tickets and six beverage tickets for generous samples of foods, beers, wines and non-alcoholic drinks such as chai teas and spritzers.
While parking is limited on the Patrick Ranch Museum grounds, a free shuttle will escort visitors from downtown Chico to the event. Those who arrive by bicycle will find free valet parking.
The California Nut Festival has raised more than $40,000 in its first four years at the Patrick Ranch and continues to grow. As it does, Patrick Ranch Museum events such as the annual Country Faire and Threshing Bee, agricultural spelling bee, school tours and educational outreach programs will reach more people, fostering a greater understanding of the area’s agricultural heritage and the power of humble nut trees to impact not only health, but a region’s economy and sense of place.
California Nut Festival • Saturday, April 19 • 11am-4pm
Patrick Ranch Museum • 10381 Midway, Durham