Pete Changala has kept Irvine a top U.S. avocado producer for 26 years.

Sustainable orchards

by TOM BERG

Drive along Portola Parkway and you’ll witness a remarkable story.

The trees you see rising along the hillsides are part of one of America’s most successful – and eco-friendly – avocado orchards.

“We put our passion into that grove,” says Pete Changala, who’s overseen the orchards for 26 years. “What you see when you drive by is a beautiful grove of trees. But it’s also a sustainable, naturally driven orchard that produces something good for people – and we’re proud of that too.”

Irvine’s ranch history

Long ago, Irvine’s year-round Mediterranean climate created one of America’s most bountiful agricultural centers.

In the early 1900s, The Irvine Ranch grew many of the nation’s lima beans. In the mid-1900s, it helped popularize the Valencia orange. In the 1970s, its farmers tried a new crop: avocados.

The trees’ shallow roots thrived along the hillsides of northern Irvine. Soon, Irvine Ranch Orchards became the nation’s top producer of Hass avocados – and one of its most forward- thinking operations.

Sustainable orchards

Today, Irvine’s orchards lead the way in many green practices, including water conservation, weed abatement, erosion control and voluntary use of organic-based pest control.

They add to the city’s natural beauty and attract deer, hawks and falcons. They oxygenate the air and provide a buffer zone against potential wildfires.

Also, by using 100% reclaimed water, they require no drinking water whatsoever.