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Capay-area U-pick oranges sweet to the taste
U-pick or already picked oranges on sale. Call Beverlee Seale at 865-4602.
Beverlee Seale is back in business — the orange business that is.
"For several years my crop was destroyed by freezing weather," Seale said as she walked in her orange orchard along Third Avenue in Capay.
The vivid green orchard of 115, 40-year-old trees dotted with the bright, ripe oranges sits just a rock's throw away from the Sacramento River.
Seale and her husband moved to the area 35 years ago.
"The trees where just babies then. We call our oranges 'Charlie's Oranges' because the oranges and orchard was really my husband's project," she said. "He worked hard, watering, mowing, picking, polishing, packaging and taking the oranges to market. He loved peddling his oranges. This over and above his regular job of course."
Then in 2002, Charlie Seale suffered a severe stroke and was unable to work in the orchard he loved so much. He died in 2006.
"Since then, I hadn't done much with the orchard or the crop as far as selling them. We had friends and neighbors who would come and pick them. I gave a lot away to schools, but the rest just fell off the trees and died," Seale said. "Then, of course, we lost the crop to bad weather for a few years."
This year, the crop came very close to disaster once again, but Mother Nature tempered down the chill and Seale said things are looking really good.
"Our oranges are very sweet this year and I would really like to see every one of the them eaten. I still take them to the local school so the children can enjoy them," she said.
That comes as no surprise.
In 2009, after 35 years of teaching, Seale retired as a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher and principal of Lake Elementary School. Her devotion to the school and its students remains.
As Seale picked a few oranges from a tree on Friday morning, her helper, Ramone Juarez, showed up.
"I couldn't get this done without Ramone's help," she said. "With his help, I was able to take 150, 10-pound bags of oranges to the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale and sold almost all of them."
She still has 10-pound bags of oranges sitting on a table outside her house that are for sale to anyone passing that way.
"I ask $5 a bag. But if you come and pick them yourself, I sell them for 20 cents a pound," Seale explained.
Seale said she has been contacted by Tehama Together, which as part of its Food Policy Council. It is developing a list of "U-pick" locations in the county.
"This is a great way to support local growers," said Holly Wilson of Tehama Together. "It makes a nice family outing and shows young people where their food comes from and how it is grown."
Wilson said oranges can be used in a variety of ways, such as orange juice, homemade marmalade, dried orange peel for potpourri, orange oil, and just to simply eat.
Seale has clippers available to pick the oranges, but pickers need to bring their own bags and boxes.