Hundreds Take Their Pick at Orcutt Ranch

Sherry Lopata absolutely loves the oranges growing in the orchard at the Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center in West Hills.

“The oranges are really sweet and juicy, not like the dried-out ones you’d find in the supermarkets,” said Lopata of West Hills. “The oranges are a bit smaller but much tastier.”

Lopata was one of about 200 people who paid $2 Sunday to fill grocery bags with Valencia oranges and white grapefruit from more than 1,000 fruit trees on the second day of the annual do-it-yourself harvest.

Revenue from the event will be used to restore and maintain the trees, said Brad Haynes, park maintenance supervisor of the city Recreation and Parks Department, which operates Orcutt Ranch.


“At $2 a bag, it’s a real bargain, especially for the quality of the oranges and grapefruits that you’re getting,” Haynes said.

On Saturday, more than 400 people picked fruit. The event has been held since 1985 on the weekend following the Fourth of July, he said.

Using an 8-foot-long device called a basket fruit picker, people reached high on the tree to grab the choicest fruits.

“Our annual harvest is like a big community get-together, where neighbors can get out with their kids and meet each other,” Haynes said.


“It’s also a great way to experience what life must have been like in the early days of the San Fernando Valley.”

But for Woodland Hills resident Louise Gutierrez, who attended the harvest Sunday with her husband, the main attraction was the oranges.

“These are the best oranges around anywhere,” she said.

Added Lopata, after filling a bag with oranges and a few grapefruit: “I’m going to make some fresh orange juice when I get home.”