Preserving the Past

IN 1887, Edwin Waldo Ward, who worked for a New York City food im-
porter, headed west to California. He hoped that the clean air and pleasant
climate would help him recuperate from tuberculosis. After he settled in
the San Gabriel Valley, his health im-
proved, and he bought 30 acres of land
in rural Sierra Madre. A friend traveling
through Spain shipped him two Seville
orange trees, and a grove of 600 trees
eventually grew from the graftings. By
1918, Ward was marketing his Seville Or-
ange Marmalade nationwide.
Now situated just a mile from the
Foothill Freeway, the Ward Ranch is down
to 3.5 acres. But orange, tangerine, and
kumquat trees still thrive, and the ranch
continues to produce marmalade. Preserves
are cooked in the same 100-gallon kettles
used a half century ago. Richard Ward,
grandson of the founder, and his son, Jeff
~both shown), now run the operation,
which has expanded into other food lines.
“We now make about 150 products,”
says Jeff, peering into a tub of green
olives. “Our olives are shipped in barrels
from Spain and then stuffed by hand.”
Depending on the season, seven to 15
workers stuff the little green globes with
onions, almonds, or jalapeno peppers,
then place them in jars.
Housed in a two-story redwood
barn built in 1902, the Ward Museum
is a mishmash of ranching memorabil-
ia. Antique preserve jars embossed with
the Ward logo are lined up next to re-
tired fruit presses. On the wall hang
three of the ranch’s original orange-crate
labels, depicting idyllic scenes of early-
20th-century citrus groves. Nearby are
black-and-white photos of a confident
Edwin Waldo Ward surrounded by his
orange trees.
The Ward Ranch is located at 273 E.
Highland Avenue in Sierra Madre. Phone
(818) 355-1218. —JOE TORTOMASI