Etchart Ranch is located on Maricopa Highway at the mouth of Matilija Canyon. The grove, on fifty acres of gentle to steep south-facing slopes, is almost always frost-free. Historically, the ranch produced oranges and lemons as early as 1901; fruit was marketed with the box label, Meiners Ranch, Nordhoff, California.
In 1942, Michel and Marina Etchart purchased the property (he a Basque immigrant and she a descendant of early Californios); they moved from Santa Barbara with their two sons, Bob and Will. The Etcharts continued the citrus and avocado operation into the 1980's, marketing the fruit through Pure Gold, Sunkist and Calavo co-ops.
In 1987 Will Etchart acquired sole ownership of the ranch after retiring from a thirty-year career in public secondary education. A major objective was to cease dependence on cooperatives and engage in more direct marketing, and most importantly, to seek niche markets with specialty citrus, avocados and other subtropical fruits. He sought advice from several sources and planted a variety of citrus and avocados. One friend, April Jensen, said, "plant some Pixies", and he did. He was a fixture at the Santa Barbara farmers market for over 15 years with his new offerings, and also sold fruit to many local grocery stores. He had a loyal customer base and enjoyed chatting and engaging directly with those that loved his fruit.
Sadly, Will passed away in April of 2005. His physical presence will be missed, but his spirit will live on at the ranch, and in all of those who knew him. Today, Etchart Ranch consists of 11 acres of specialty citrus and avocados: Pixie, Satsuma, Gold Nugget, and Tahoe Gold mandarins, Moro blood oranges, Minneola tangelos, Cara Cara navels, pummelos, guayavas and Hass and Fuerte avocados. The grove is managed and operated by Will's sons Mike and Mark, and fourth-generation helpers at markets. The fruit is sold at farmers markets in Ojai and Santa Barbara, retail stores in Ojai and Santa Ynez Valley, and direct sales at the ranch. Hass avocados are marketed through Mission Produce.
Come visit us at the markets or call us directly at 805-646-2538.
Member of the Ojai Pixie Tangerine Growers Association. Find out more at www.ojaipixies.com