Monday, July 23, 2012
Forestiere Underground Gardens and Route 99
So, the story goes, Baldassare Forestiere was living in Italy and his father wouldn't let him take over the family's citrus farming business because he wasn't the first born. So Baldassare buys all this land in Fresno, CA-sight unseen-to start his own orchards. In 1901 he travels to America and finds that the land he bought has a thick layer of hard pan soil, making it impossible to plant his orchards. SADS. So he's stuck out there in the brutal central valley summer with nothing but acres of unusable soil. He digs an underground cellar and all his neighbors come hangout down there to catch a break from the blazing heat. And then he keeps digging(using only hand tools) and creates grottos, chapels, living quarters, and garden courts all underground. And this is not just one layer of underground living, he excavated three stories underground full of different tunnels and rooms, with the hopes of one day turning it into a hotel. If this sounds dark and dreary to you, it's quite the opposite. Because of all the large skylights he created, the place is filled with sunlight. SO, now that he has sunlight and has dug under the layers of hard pan, he goes about planting his fruit trees below the skylights. Because these underground gardens are three stories deep, he could plant a tree on the first level, trim the branches on the second, and pick the fruit from the third. Over one-hundred-years later, these trees are still thriving and producing plenty of produce.