Water Conservation Focus of Museum’s Guided Orchard Walk

By January 4, 2022Press Releases

LOS ALTOS, CA (Jan 4, 2022) In response to drought alerts, Los Altos History Museum invites the community to learn more about outdoor water conservation tools available from Valley Water on a guided Orchard Walk, Sat., Jan 22, 10am – noon.


Jane Packard, chair of the Museum’s Orchard Commons Committee, will lead the walk through the Los Altos Heritage Orchard and demonstrate transitions to new water-wise irrigation technology for the apricot trees.


“Turning back the calendar to 1901, when J. Gilbert Smith first started planting apricots in what is now the Heritage Orchard, the innovations in irrigation technology mirrored the resilient spirit we admire in Silicon Valley today,” Packard said. “Flood irrigation powered by a windmill-driven water-well was replaced by aluminum pipes with sprinklers when municipal water systems were installed.”


Frank Niccoli, head of the Environmental Horticulture and Design program at Foothill College, provides expertise on the Orchard Commons Committee. Offering experience with state-of-the-art irrigation technology, Niccoli is working closely with the City Orchardist, Phil Doetsch, designing and testing an effective and efficient smart irrigation system for the City of Los Altos. City staff are eager to find ways to save dollars and to meet the County-wide mandate to reduce water consumption by 15%.


Participants on the Orchard Walk will learn about several approaches to conserve water while keeping plants healthy. These approaches include: drip irrigation, micro-sprinklers, mulch, drought-resistant native plants, rain gardens (swales), soil moisture sensors and irrigation control systems.


“We’re hoping to inspire the community to conserve water in their own outdoor landscapes, and to utilize the rebates provided by Valley Water,” Packard said. Her collaboration with Foothill College student interns initiated a transition toward more regenerative agricultural perspectives for the orchard. These efforts are supported by a mini-grant from Valley Water to the Los Altos History Museum.


The walk will begin at the Tank House in the Museum’s courtyard. Registration is required, and limited to 24 participants. To register, visit losaltoshistory.org/OrchardWalkJan22.

This program is in support of the exhibition “Community Orchard Art,” on display in the J. Gilbert Smith House through February 20, 2022.

Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the J. Gilbert Smith House historic farmhouse, built in 1905. In 2001, the Los Altos History Museum opened its modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collections, permanent and changing exhibits, store and administrative offices. The Museum and its grounds are available for rent during evenings and weekends. Its collections are owned by the City of Los Altos and are managed by an independent nonprofit organization, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for all programs and operations.


The Museum is open Thursday through Sunday, from noon-4pm. Admission is free. Tours of the J. Gilbert Smith House are available during open hours subject to docent availability. The outdoor agricultural exhibit, gardens and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, visit: losaltoshistory.org, email hello@losaltoshistory.org, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.


Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10, eward@losaltoshistory.org