Villa del Sol
Sweet Cherry Farms
Leona Valley, California
Villa del Sol is a 25
acre working cherry farm started by the Shafer family in 1999.
We are located at the intersection of Elizabeth Lake Road and
Godde Hill Road in the lovely Leona Valley, California.
Just 1 hour northeast of Los Angeles, take the Palmdale
Boulevard Exit off of the 14 Freeway and head west!
Villa del Sol is the "first cherry stop" on the right.
We specifically chose this location for many reasons.
For optimum fruit taste and texture, terrain and climate
are very important. The orchard cascades down a south
facing slope that allows the sunshine to gently warm the
ground, preventing freezing of the delicate fruit in the
spring. Warm air is filtered through the trees which is
needed for an optimum crop.
In the Beginning
In the spring of 2001, we planted almost 4000 bare
root sweet cherry trees--five varieties: Bing, Rainier, Early Burlat, Brooks and Tulare, all on the Mahaleb rootstock. We did a lot of research in order to
try to do everything right. First we had the soil tested
to determine what soil amendments it needed. The tests
determined that we needed 21 tons of nitrogen (steer
manure) and 3 tons of gypsum. After the nutrients were
spread throughout the field, we "slip plowed" the entire
field (a process of turning the soil down to a depth of
about five feet) to give the roots ease in growing.
We take every step possible to produce the best fruit in the
region. We have contracted with a biologist to do leaf analysis
throughout the year. In order to keep trees at their healthiest
and producing the sweetest cherries possible, nutrients are
precisely fed to the trees through the fertigation system. This
means every tree is evenly fertilized through the watering process.
To adequately pollinate a cherry orchard, agriculturists
recommend having 3 bee hives per acre. At the moment, Villa del
Sol hosts 100 honey bee hives to gently pollinate the tender
blossoms of the trees. Native honey is purported to be
beneficial to those suffering from allergies. We will be offering our own
raw local honey at the sales stand during regularly scheduled farm
Villa del Sol will be offering Cherries as well as
the farm experience to its customers. The farm itself is the
main attraction with sprawling fields open skies
and plenty of old-fashioned hospitality. Our family would like
to offer a way
for everyone to experience a "u-pick" Cherry farm and enjoy the
benefits of its bounty.
Note: There are no bees on the premises during
picking season. Hives are taken off-site to forage
wild flowers and alfalfa blossoms during picking season.
Not all bees
Some are very gentle and
very fun to watch.
They love to
drink nectar from flowers and if you don't disturb them you
can enjoy watching them up close and personal.
As long as
you don't bug them, they won't bug you!
Loading up all the pollen
she can carry.
all over her body