The California Pear Advisory Board’s new branding effort — dubbed “America’s First Pear” — refers to the fruit’s place in the annual order of commercial production.

But it’s also meant to suggest the importance of the fruit in the state’s history.

“It’s our message,” said Chris Zanobini, executive director of the Sacramento-based board. “The first pears that are harvested for the domestic season come out of California, but when we considered the bartlett pears that came here back in the Gold Rush, we started to think about the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-generation farming families who have for the most part grown the same varieties since.”

California board promotes ‘America’s First Pear’Atomic Torosian, managing partner at Fresno-based Crown Jewels Produce, said pear growers, packers and marketers are using heirloom themes this year.

“The pear industry in California started in the early 1850s,” Torosian said. “So it’s been a long time coming. It’s one of the true heirloom-type fruits that have been around that long. There are not a lot of fruit trees or people who have been in the fruit industry as long as the California pear growers and packers.”


Farm to Fork

The board has been a supporter of the Farm to Fork program in Sacramento.

“Last year we were the first commodity organization to jump on board and be a partner,” Zanobini said. “We just conducted a Farm to Fork delta farm tour, which encompassed a number of different products. We’re definitely involved in working on local events to try to bring a little more attention to the long history of growers producing in this area.”

“All the pears in California are grown within a relatively small distance of each other,” he said. “When you put it in the perspective of the state and nation, we’re pretty compact.”

“I don’t think there are much more than 60 or 70 growers in the (California) industry,” Torosian said.