Could this be a new plum variety?
July 28, 2005
• 'Hitachi plums' to be harvested July 31
• Bumper crop to feed the needy
There are some 200 varieties of plums grown in the U.S. and now you could say there's at least one other -- the "Hitachi Plum."
Not a biological variant, this plum comes from the old plum orchards still existing on the campus of the Hitachi Global Storage Technologies campus in Silicon Valley.
California growers know that before there was a Silicon Valley, the area around San Jose was dubbed the "Valley of Heart's Delight," in reference to the area's thousands of acres of fruit orchards.
Now mostly paved over with office complexes and windowless manufacturing plants, remnants of these groves still exist in a few spots.
And one of those is the campus around Hitachi's complex where the company churns out computer hard drives.
Record-breaking Bay Area temperatures have added to early ripening of the plum crop on the Hitachi campus, prompting the San Jose-based company to harvest the bumper crop sooner than expected this year.
On Sunday, July 31, Hitachi will organize a harvest that's expected to include more than 150 Hitachi employees and volunteers from Village Harvest, a nonprofit suburban harvesting cooperative in Santa Clara Valley.
The 2005 harvest is expected to bring in a record-breaking 10,000 pounds of plums. The last harvest yielded more than 8,000 pounds of fruit or 34,000 servings -- enough to provide for more than 300 families of four for a week.
Harvested fruit will be distributed to all the major Bay Area Food Banks: Second Harvest Food Bank (serves Santa Clara, San Mateo & Santa Cruz Counties), San Francisco Food Bank and Alameda County Community Food Bank.
Plums from the Hitachi harvest are officially known as the French prune plum, which is a derivative of the French word "prunier" for plum tree. The fruit was a significant crop in Santa Clara Valley for more than a century, from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.
Now almost all of California's plum crop is grown in the Central Valley in the Reedley area.
Plums are high in fiber and antioxidants and a good source of potassium. They can be consumed in a variety of ways, including as fresh fruit, dried fruit, preserves, juice and in baked goods.