In April it is already shorts and Birkenstocks in Davis, California. That is when University of California at Davis arranges its annual Picnic Day; a kind of Open House event for prospective and current students, alumni and the public. Davis is a big university town and more than 50 000 visitors usually show up for this day of parades, music, exhibits, games and Open House visits and demonstrations at several of its schools.
I am one of those who has enjoyed this tradition, that got started on May 22, 1909. My morning tea is greatly enhanced by some Orange Blossom Honey from UC Davis! It is a honey that resembles traditional Swedish honey, creamy and spreadable. It has carefully been warmed and filtered in order to keep the local pollen.
Students at UC Davis, current and alumni, are called Aggies, from the word ”agriculture”, since the school traditionally has offered classes in that field. Those who study or do research at UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science are selling honey, pass out free samples of olive oil and ice cream, as well as donating small grapevine plants to 2000 people annually. The money goes to support research.
The Orange Blossom Honey is celebrating a long tradition in California. The first orange trees were planted in the at the time Mexican town of Los Angeles in 1835, by William Wolfskill. Shortly thereafter Will and his brother, John, planted citrus and grapevine close to the little town of Winters, not far from Davis, on a farm called Rancho de los Putos. It was later re-named the Wolfskill Experimental Orchard.
In 1934 the University received more than 100 acres of the farm’s land. Today the USDA Germplasm Repository is situated at Wolfskill Ranch. It is called a living library for fruit and has become a part of UC Davis.