Califonia Bountiful

Growing from the heart

Ask Andy Mariani, and he'll tell you he's getting just what he wants from life.

A few steps from his home in Morgan Hill is Andy Mariani's life's pursuit—one of the most diverse farms in California. His 45-acre oasis in an urban setting includes 250 different varieties of fruits, many of which you'll find nowhere else.

Those who know Andy say he's an inspiration. Just after college, Andy contracted an auto-immune disease, Pemphigus. Doctors told his parents their son would die, that there was nothing that could be done. After years of surgeries and experimental treatment in Europe, Andy survived and the disease is in remission, where it stays, thanks in part to the healing qualities that come when a person pursues his dreams.

"After my illness, I came back to the farm and I realized that this is the place I wanted to stay for the rest of my life," Andy said. "It certainly continues the therapeutic aspects of my recovery. You have to recover emotionally as well from a severe illness like that. It really helped me to do that and continues to be therapeutic."

Andy's signature fruit is the Baby Crawford peach, a small, juicy fruit which has one of the richest peach flavors imaginable. He rescued the Baby Crawford off of a fruit breeder's reject pile and now has a waiting list for it every year.

Andy's business is called Andy's Orchard, and he encourages the public to visit. He frequently holds fruit tastings, where the public can visit, sample his fruits and pick their own produce.

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