Multiple Cities Agritourism & Locally Grown Farms

Butte County Agriculture: Sowing Quality and Innovation

With agri­cul­tur­al roots reach­ing back to the ear­li­est inno­va­tions in Cal­i­for­nia farm­ing, Butte Coun­ty today is still home to farms, large and small, car­ry­ing on the lega­cy of qual­i­ty and inno­va­tion that has exist­ed in Butte Coun­ty for more than 150 years, pro­duc­ing some of the state’s best olive oils, fruit, rice and nuts.

Almonds, Wal­nuts & Oth­er Nuts

Chico’s founder, John Bid­well, is known as a found­ing father of mod­ern Cal­i­for­nia agri­cul­ture.” He cham­pi­oned diver­si­fied com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture, pio­neered the growth of the almond and wal­nut indus­try, and grew his ranch into a mod­el of California’s farm indus­try in the sec­ond half of the 19th century.

Long after John Bid­well, almonds and oth­er tree nuts con­tin­ue to flour­ish in Butte Coun­ty. For five gen­er­a­tions, Sohn­rey Fam­i­ly Foods in Oroville has been grow­ing almonds, wal­nuts, rice, and prunes and sell­ing high-qual­i­ty con­sumer prod­ucts while focus­ing on stew­ard­ship of the lands they tend. They gen­er­ate renew­able ener­gy for their farm and food man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ty through two solar pan­el sys­tems and use drones and orchard mois­ture sen­sors to reduce their water usage, among oth­er con­ser­va­tion efforts.

You can also buy almonds and oth­er nut prod­ucts from Maisie Jane’s Cal­i­for­nia Sun­shine Prod­ucts. A third-gen­er­a­tion almond-farmer’s daugh­ter, Maisie Jane began roast­ing nuts in the fam­i­ly kitchen at 17, and the com­pa­ny grew from a col­lege project into a sus­tain­able busi­ness. For a sea­son­al treat, head to Harrison’s Cal­i­for­nia Chest­nuts to buy chest­nuts direct­ly from the grow­ers dur­ing the fall harvest.

Olive Oil

Olive oil pro­duc­tion in Oroville is thanks to anoth­er 19th cen­tu­ry agri­cul­ture pio­neer: Fre­da Ehmann, an Oroville farmer who launched California’s olive indus­try by per­fect­ing a process to pre­serve the fruit for ship­ment in 1898

Today, mul­ti­ple local olive oil pro­duc­ers build on Ehmann’s lega­cy. Fer­tile vol­canic soil com­bined with a Mediter­ranean cli­mate makes Oroville an ide­al loca­tion for the Mis­sion olive, with 75% of their pro­duc­tion in the coun­try locat­ed in the Oroville area, includ­ing from oth­er local favorites Butte View Olive Oil and TLC Olive Oil.


In Oroville, you’ll also find the Moth­er Orange Tree, the old­est liv­ing orange tree in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, plant­ed in 1856. The suc­cess of its plant­i­ng set off a rush to plant more orange trees in the sec­ond half of the 19th century.

Today, the local indus­try that remains is small but per­sis­tent, with local Sat­suma man­darin grow­ers, such as Mt. Ida Man­darin Ranch, Tri‑L Man­darin Ranch, and Doering’s Man­darins sell­ing sea­son­al­ly from their farms and farm­ers markets.


With warm weath­er and water-retain­ing adobe soil, Butte Coun­ty is also a fer­tile area for grow­ing rice, with Rich­vale par­tic­u­lar­ly suit­ed for grow­ing the crop. Of the more than 400 rice grow­ers in the coun­ty, the Rich­vale-based Lund­berg Fam­i­ly Farms is the most well-known. Found­ed in 1937 with sus­tain­abil­i­ty and stew­ard­ship at its core, the rice grow­ing fam­i­ly con­tin­ues to build on this lega­cy, receiv­ing the 2020 Rodale Institute’s Organ­ic Pio­neer Award for their inno­v­a­tive work in organ­ic farm­ing, use of renew­able ener­gy, and TRUE Zero Waste certification.


With plen­ty of wide-open lands, cat­tle (and oth­er land graz­ers) has had a long his­to­ry in Butte Coun­ty. You can find local­ly pro­duced beef, lamb, and pork at Butte Coun­ty farm­ers mar­kets, or you can vis­it the source at the Chico State Meats Lab and take home a vari­ety of meats from cows and pigs raised right on the Uni­ver­si­ty Farm.

New Farms

The long his­to­ry of farm­ing and ranch­ing in Butte Coun­ty has large­ly con­tin­ued through fam­i­ly-led endeav­ors span­ning gen­er­a­tions, but new­com­ers also do their part to build on the area’s agri­cul­tur­al legacy.

Already mak­ing a name for itself, rel­a­tive new­com­er Milk & Hon­ey 1860 sells goat’s milk lotions and balms as well as fleece and woolen prod­ucts from their Civ­il War-era farm.

A pop­u­lar u‑pick loca­tion, first-gen­er­a­tion L&T Farms invites vis­i­tors to pick the per­fect peach, nec­tarine, and cher­ry in the sum­mer in addi­tion to pick­ing up oth­er fresh food from their sea­son­al farmstand.

For the past 150 years, Butte Coun­ty has been an agri­cul­tur­al leader in Cal­i­for­nia, with inno­v­a­tive ideas and farm­ers with a deep respect for the land. We can’t wait to see what the next cen­tu­ry brings.