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A Brothers' Dream

This was Ted and Bill’s dream, that the Gilcrease Orchard would be a place where families could bring their children and enjoy a sampling of the kind of life the brothers knew. They wanted to preserve this unique gem where the community can pick food fresh off the tree or vine and see, feel, and taste the difference. Through their non-profit foundation, they aimed to provide recreational and educational experiences that teach children where our food comes from and how it is grown, helping to foster an appreciation for the earth’s bounty and a healthy lifestyle.

Bill, who turned 98 on June 21, 2017 passed away October 24, 2017. Bill wanted his family legacy to be remembered and enjoyed by visitors to the Orchard. “We built the Orchard with the intention it would be around for a very long time,” said Bill.

The Gilcrease Orchard Foundation

Over the years, the former Gilcrease Ranch raised chickens and turkeys sold to the townsfolk and the military base close by. They grew assorted crops including alfalfa and eventually owned more than 1,500 acres of land, cultivating about 200 acres.

Ted showed a greater interest in farming and took over the management of the ranch and their land holdings, while Bill pursued his interest in art and birds. Nevertheless, they both contributed time and land for the development of the Orchard during the 1970’s. Ted eventually decided to stop alfalfa production and focus on an orchard accessible to the community. Bill assisted by experimenting with apple strains best suited for the arid environment. For nearly 50 years, valley residents have enjoyed 60 acres devoted to what Ted called his “pick and pay” orchard.

Recognizing his age and poor health were diminishing his ability to run the Orchard, Ted decided he needed to do something to protect the orchard in perpetuity. In 1997 he, with Bill’s support, decided to establish the non-profit Gilcrease Orchard Foundation governed by a Board of Trustees. The current board consists of Corinne Escobar, Dr. Larry Allen, Dennis Swartzell, Tara Pike and Brad McDonald.

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