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The Fate of Filoli Fruit

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When the fruit trees in the Garden start bearing ripe fruit in summer and fall, visitors often ask, “What does Filoli do with all its fruit?” Learn more below about the many ways we make use of the fruit from our orchards, including harvesting for fruit butters and apple cider and donating to local food banks.


Fruit as Display

We find fruit hanging from the tree to be as beautiful as a rose on a rose shrub or flowers in our annual displays! Fruit is a decorative component in the formal garden, and it allows guests of all ages to learn how fruit grows on trees. Each year, we leave a smattering of fruit on the trees at the end of the harvest to maintain the autumn display in the garden.  

Fruit Storage

Fruits that are stored for events or other uses are placed in our historic, in-ground fruit cooler. When designed by architect Gardner Dailey for the Bourns, it was thought that it being in-ground would provide sufficient chilling. However, in our climate, the cooler was too warm in the fall and winter, and the fruit did not store properly or for very long. In the 1980s, a refrigerated chiller was added to the cooler to properly keep the fruit fresh.

Filoli Fruit Butters

Beginning in 2015, Filoli engaged a commercial kitchen to turn our fruit into fruit butters and other preserves. Nearly 20 different types of butters have been made in the five past years, including some made from a blend of fruits – heirloom apple, pear, and peach butters – while others are single variety preserves – Bartlett and Comice pear, Gravenstein apple, Jonathan apple, and Spitzenberg apple. The annual harvest for our preserves is 1000-4000 pounds.

Filoli Hard Cider

Beginning in 2018, Filoli has worked with Tilted Shed Cider Works to produce hard cider from our orchards. The 2021 vintage has arrived and is for sale at the Orchard bar and in the Clock Tower Shop. A glass of the crisp and refreshing hard cider is the perfect complement to a stroll through the Orchard.

Village Harvest Donations

For over 10 years, we have partnered with the nonprofit Village Harvest, which harvests or receives donations of fruit from orchards big or small, and gives the fruit to Second Harvest of Silicon Valley and St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room in Menlo Park. Village Harvest volunteers pick fruit in Filoli’s orchards monthly and Filoli makes additional donations of extra fruit when available. Typical annual donations are 2000-5000 pounds of fruit. In 2021, we have added vegetables from the Fruitful Garden exhibit to this donation.

Naturally Fallen Fruit

A certain amount of fruit always naturally falls from the trees during the ripening period. These are typically poor quality fruit that have been damaged by insects or nibbled by animals like birds, raccoons, or rats. Please leave the fruit on the ground. These fruits are ultimately gathered and are either composted or are piled outside the garden for critters to eat. Either way, the fruit does not go to waste. 


Next time you visit the Garden, be sure to look for the beautiful fruit hanging from the branches of trees in our orchards!