There are nineteen Hachiya Persimmon trees tucked along the back of the Cordova Baptist Church & Preschool. We approached the congregation about being stewards of the land in exchange for weekly produce and ongoing educational programs for the children of the Preschool, Kindergarten, and Sunday school.
In the Spring of 2018, we were blessed with the opportunity to manage the Historic Hachiya Persimmon Orchard in our Hometown, Rancho Cordova, CA.
The first settlers recognized the limitless beauty and fertility of this place and compared it to the well-regarded agricultural community of Cordoba, Spain. Not long after, the land would be divided into small Ranchos, giving us our city’s namesake “Rancho Cordova.”
A historic marker one block from the orchard notes that in the 1850’s the first out-of-state shipment of produce left our town by refrigerated rail car, packed with California grown fruits and vegetables from the surrounding Williamson Ranch.
Our neighbor’s yards also give clues to our city’s agricultural past, with Almond, Pecan, Walnut, Plum, and Citrus trees dotting the landscape.
In addition, a deeper history is still present on the land, with old growth Valley Oaks reminding us of the first stewards of the land, the Nissan Maidu tribe.
Today, our community can enjoy the abundance of this local historic orchard year-round.
We grow many annual and perennial fruits and vegetables under the Persimmon canopy. Our specialty is interplanting quick rotation crops, such as salad greens and root vegtables.
We recognize that it is God’s plan to bring connectivity to our neighborhood through these incredible trees; adding credence to their historically acknowledged title as the “fruit of God.”
Hachiya Persimmons are often referred to as “the cooking kind”, but anyone who’s ever had a perfectly ripe fruit can probably attest that they are a uniquely delectable treat when enjoyed raw. We call that time waiting for them to ripen “Persimmon Patience.”
We harvest these fresh fruits and supply the church congregation and our customers at the market in the Fall. Year-round, we can all enjoy the medicinal tea that is made from boiling the leaves.
Since 2018, we have been practicing our hand at creating natural candy made by sun-drying the Persimmons. This technique is known in Japanese culture as “hoshigaki”, but is popular in many eastern European and Asian cultures. The process involves peeling the Persimmons (before they’re soft), blanching them, and hanging them from strings to sun-dry, before returning daily to gently massage them as the weeks pass to create a naturally sugar-coated treat with a persimmon paste center.
The fruit has such a naturally high sugar content, that as one messages it, the sugars are distributed and cover the drying fruit in a fine powder (sweet!). Typically considered a rare fruit these days, Hachiyas used to be quite popular in California.
Today, this fragile fruit is often considered too difficult for many farmers to ship, so they are simply not grown.
The process is definitely a labor of love, but it is worth the year-round enjoyment of our favorite fruit!