California’s native oak populations are in decline.
Studies* find that deciduous oak species (Valley Oak and Blue Oak) are failing to regenerate quickly enough, resulting in a stark underrepresentation of young trees.
* Perea R, López-Sánchez A, Dirzo R. 2017. Differential tree recruitment in California oak savannas: Are evergreen oaks replacing deciduous oaks? Forest Ecology and Management 399: 1-8.
The Parkfield Oak Tree Restoration Fund is dedicated to the rebirth of our native trees.
100% of profits raised will be used to plant, raise and care for native trees, including Valley Oaks, Blue Oaks, Willows and more.
As a thank you for your donation,
collect a dozen free eggs
from the Parkfield Cafe!
Please note, eggs cannot be shipped.
About the eggs:
Our eggs are from happy chickens that are free to roam and forage by day and live in their egg hotel at night.
They are raised by Jack Varian on the V6 Ranch with lots of love and care.
A few words from founder Jack Varian
That’s right, Parkfield and its surrounding Cholame Valley has been taking for granted its natural beauty for far too long and it’s time to start giving back. I want to do it by encouraging a regenerative renaissance with the planting of our native Valley Oaks and all the other green growing things that live alongside it.
Let me take you all back to the beginning. To a time when the Valley Oak was a vigorous tree that covered the better soils of the Cholame Valley floor. Its slide toward obscurity began in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Homestead Act that said any man could put a hold on any 160 acres that our US government owned that hadn’t been already claimed by someone else. The road to ownership required that once he had staked his claim. He would then clear the land and plow the soil plant a crop and do this for five years before he qualified to receive title to his160 acres and if you were a livestock man you would graze the land for five years.
This would be the start of a land rush that would last for about 50 years before all the good free land was taken up by Homesteaders. It was the start of big time erosion, by turning the topsoil over with a plow, it was time to kill whatever would eat a man’s labor. In the Cholame Valley the very best class one soils were found under the Valley Oak trees. Well you know who won that battle. The farmer with Ax, Saw and Dynamite, the Oaks were no match. Whatever that was left over after clearing the land went to grazing of livestock which led to overgrazing on these to small acreages.
All this tree cutting, stump pulling, livestock grazing labor was still not enough for most to make a living. That left the toughest, most tenacious Homesteader to buy out his neighbors over time, until each had a viable ranch that was several thousand acres in size. All this time the Oaks were still being cut for firewood, split into fence posts or cooked in a kiln and made into charcoal and old age would claim many with still no concern for their welfare or the idea that maybe some things were worth saving for the future.
In 2012 I decided to plant a thousand Valley Oaks from Acorns that I had gathered in the fall of 2011 and then had them grown out by a nursery in San Luis Obispo. The following summer I gathered a crew of FFA-ers, 4H-ers and any other citizens who wanted to help revive the Valley Oak. In one weekend they were all planted in wire baskets to protect them from Gopher’s. Things were going well until I noticed several weeks later that some of the little trees were cut down in one bite by Ground Squirrels. I was unable to keep my ranch going and afford all the help that it would take to save them from the Ground Squirrel onslaught. So out of a thousand I have about 20 that are still surviving.
What I learned was, it’s better to plant a few and take good care of them for 4 or 5 years and the survival rate will go way up. Good regular care costs money, like the need to pay one or two people, whatever it takes, to help out with the irrigation, manual labor and lots of T.L.C.
Right now I have 100 hens that I thought would be a modest number to test the waters, to see if this could be a possible new industry on the V6. I found that I could raise them in a converted Cotton Trailer where they slept safely at night and during the day they are free to roam in a one acre enclosure made with electrified Nylon netting that keeps the chickens in and the predators out.
What I have discovered that I always tend to leave out with my new ideas is “marketing” when I think about new industries for the V6. It’s a job I hate to do but in reality it’s as important as raising the chickens. It has dawned on me that maybe the way to make good use of the 80 or so unsold eggs each day that the hens lay is to donate them to the Oak Tree program and place them in the Parkfield Cafe where for a suggested $5.00 donation you can go home with a dozen eggs that are truly range raised from happy hens and you will be helping to regenerate the Valley Oak of Parkfield and the Cholame Valley.
PS If you ask me if this was my view 50 years ago? I’d have said nonsense, I’m too busy building my empire. Why is it, most times when philanthropy enters a person’s mind there's not much time left!