Forestiere Underground Gardens- Fresno, CA

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Chris at Forestiere Underground Gardens
Forestiere Underground Gardens- Fresno, CA

Forestiere Underground Gardens- Fresno, CA

While Chris and I were staying in Chowchilla, CA we met a lovely couple who told us a little about some "life changing" underground gardens in Fresno, CA. They sounded really cool and with a review like that we decided we would make the 30 minute drive to check them out.

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When we arrived we had to park on the side of the road. From the street it didn't look like much, but once we got inside it was really amazing.

The visionary, creator and original owner of the gardens was a Sicilian Immigrant named Baldassare Forestiere. Forestiere came to America in 1906 with a dream of being a citrus farmer. He purchased 70 acres of land and soon found out that under the soil were layers of hardpan that were up to five feet thick (hardpan is a hardened clay which would impair him from planting his crops). Instead of letting this crush his dreams, he started excavating the hardpan with hand tools. He created amazing underground rooms and tunnels. He even figured out a way to plant citrus trees as he had originally dreamed of doing by making planters out of the hardpan and filling them with soil. He grafted some of the trees to grow multiple types of fruit. One of them grew 7 different types including lemons, oranges and grapefruits. If there was ever a story of taking lemons and turning them into lemonade, that is definitely the case here.

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His first summer in Fresno had temperatures up to 115 degrees. This was also another reason that building his house underground was a very smart idea. It was a lot cooler down there. He made himself a bedroom for the summer months and one for winter. He also built a drainage area that collected the rain water. He put a lot of thought and work into every aspect of his home which included a little pond where he would keep fish he caught from the river.
Baldassare spent 40 years working on his underground masterpiece. He created a very cozy and beautiful home for himself (we wanted to stay there). He was also working on creating an underground resort with rooms for 50 people. He was very innovative and maybe some of his ideas were ahead of their time. It seems most people thought he was a little strange including some of his family members from Sicily. So, unfortunately when he passed away a lot of his land was sold and the fifty rooms were destroyed. Luckily, one of his brothers who also lived in Fresno saw the beauty in his hard work and kept 10 acres of his land. The gardens are still owned by his nephew today and the site is now a historical landmark.

It costs $17 per person for the tour but it was well worth it and our tour guide was great and very knowledgeable. If you are ever in the area we highly recommend visiting. We love finding places like this on our travels.

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Rachel & Chris Baumann

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Rachel & Chris Baumann

We are Rachel and Chris Baumann of It’s a Wanderful RV Life. We are both from Houston, TX, which is where we met. Chris currently manages and develops custom software for the company he has worked for since 2009, but he is an artist at heart. Rachel spent 10 years in the insurance industry but now has a crochet business and sells her creations on Etsy. Never the traditionalists, we married in Vegas on 10/10/10 and celebrated with a Halloween themed wedding reception. Wanting more than just the normal 9 to 5 jobs, we decided to sell most of our belongings and travel the U.S. with our two dogs, Remus and Samson. Our rig is a 35’ Fleetwood Bounder named Lucy. Now, we find ourselves traveling from state to state, visiting our nation’s National Parks, meeting new people, eating tasty food and checking out local craft brews and wineries. We love sharing our journey in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.

You can see more of our adventures at:

ItsaWanderfulRVLife.com

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