Heritage Orchard

Restoration & Replanting for a New Natural Heritage Site

We are learning and sharing practical advice for the care of trees as Love Creek Farm takes on the task of maintaining and propagating heritage apple trees that are at risk, and as a result, we hope San Lorenzo Valley’s apples will flourish again.

As a natural heritage site, the apples trees are being propagated because they represent a variety of old dessert and eating apples: Gravenstein, Hauer Pippin, Yellow Bellflower, and Yellow Delicious.

Love Creek Farm is part of a woodland riparian corridor with apple trees growing in an open space at the bottom of Ben Lomond Mountain at the edge of Love Creek. Six apple trees and a persimmon are spaced approximately 20 feet apart (minimum) on a south-facing slope. Before fencing, the orchard was part of a wildlife corridor that provided seasonal food and shelter for deer that migrated down the mountain for apples, grass, shade, and water. The Oak Woodland is left alone as a natural wildlife zone.

Best Practices:

  • Selectively cutting trees, pruning oaks, and removing invasive weeds on the hillside for more sun and balance
  • Maintaining drainage swales to eliminate water overflow problems and soil erosion
  • Planting native shrubs and ground cover to stabilize soil
  • Consistently pruning to reshape trees; minimally pruning each year to not shock the trees
  • Planting cuttings on the hillside to continue the tradition of growing heritage apples in the San Lorenzo Valley

Key Characteristics of the Heritage Orchard:

  • Fruit picked by hand
  • No chemical input
  • Organic fertilizers, composted horse manure
  • Mulch at base from hay or wood chipped on site
  • Grazing by goats and horses of grasses
  • Cutting and pruning
  • No lawnmowers or rototillers
  • Plant mid-to-late flowering varieties so blossoms not damaged by frost
  • Planting natives and low maintenance ground covers
  • Handweeding


  • Shaded hillside covered by coast and live oaks; invasive species of shrubs being removed and replaced
  • Rainwater and slope promote hillside erosion
  • Apple tree growth lopsided favoring sun exposure thus promoting leaning trees that uproot and fall over.  The Haur Pippin and Yellow Bellflower are growing flat on the hill due to erosion issues.

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