Museum Invites Feedback in Restoration of Heritage Orchard

LOS ALTOS, CA (May 30, 2023) The Los Altos Heritage Orchard is one of three remaining orchards in the area—and the oldest—planted in 1901 by J. Gilbert Smith. Following a series of droughts, the health of the apricot grove has declined. Los Altos History Museum invites the public to engage in a meaningful dialogue about restoring the City’s Historical Landmark at the second in a series of Third Thursday discussions. “Conversations and Reflections: Orchard Restoration,” is slated for June 15 from 5:30 – 7pm.


Dr. Jane Packard will lead the discussion and share ideas for a biodynamic restoration approach guided by soil-building and pollinator-friendly practices, and plans for the installation of a water-wise irrigation drip system spurred by a mini-grant from Valley Water. She will also share lessons learned abroad. “Participatory approaches to communal problem-solving have been useful in international development since the 1970’s,” she said. “Creating a safe space for all participants to share their thoughts helps everyone better understand the bigger picture.”


On behalf of the Museum’s Orchard Commons Committee, Dr. Packard participated in an informative Study Session for the Los Altos City Council. In collaboration with Manny Hernandez, Director of Recreation and Parks, the presentation outlined the past, present, and future care of the orchard. “Now it is time to hear from our diverse community,” she said.


The Museum aspires to create multi-generational and multi-cultural programs to enhance inclusive use and appreciation of the environment. “Why not appeal to families with diverse heritages by showcasing beauty, providing access for picnics, highlighting local edibles, and promoting discovery through Citizen Science?”


As former Director of the Biodiversity Stewardship Lab at Texas A&M University, Dr. Packard retired in 2015 and returned to care for her father in their Los Altos Hills home. She currently serves as Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences.


“Local communities are the key to sustainable conservation of urban green space and healthy ecosystems at the interface between wild lands and urban settings,” Dr. Packard said. “Folks protect what they love if they understand productive working landscapes provide hope for generations to come. That is what J. Gilbert Smith believed when he demanded that the City promise to maintain his trees as a productive orchard in perpetuity. We have a tall responsibility to fulfill.”


A wine and hors d’oeuvres reception will be held at the discussion. Cost to attend the program is $10; free to Museum members. Registration is required at

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 exhibitsstore 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. The outdoor agricultural exhibit, gardens and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, visit:, email, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.


Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10,