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  • Writer's pictureKelly Romo

Behind WHEN SORROW TAKES WING: Farmer Tony and Pearson Ranch

The man, the myth, the citrus.


When I needed help with my research on the citrus industry, Farmer Tony came to my rescue. My novel opens on a citrus ranch in Southern California, where Mariana's father is the foreman. Her brother and cousins are pickers, and she just got a job in a packinghouse. I exhausted my research and still needed help, so I went online. I found Farmer Tony's blog, so I reached out to him. He quickly responded and answered all my questions over many emails as I wrote.

I learned that most of the activity on a citrus ranch is during spring, bloom, and harvest. He explained petal fall, smudge pots, pruning, pests, red scale, and cottony cushion scale. With Tony's help, I pulled off a full-fledged citrus ranch--which will also be in my next historical fiction novel. It is a companion novel to WHEN SORROW TAKES WING. For those of you who have read it, it is Jenny's story.

Tony was friendly and open to any and all of my questions. He even sent me a shipment of oranges over Christmas. I highly recommend them! They were like little orbs of sunshine in the cold and dreary Oregon weather. If you are looking for some fresh hand-packed citrus straight from the ranch to your home, check out their website.

About Farmer Tony...

Tony Marquez certainly has farming in his blood. His grandparents having immigrated from Mexico in the early 1930s, worked side by side with their children in the field labor camps as "campesinos" up and down the San Joaquin Valley of California. Tony (having taken his name from his grandfather Antonio) originally had other interests outside of farming, having been an"on-air" radio personality and voice-over artist, as well as having been a licensed insurance agent, finally saw his career path return to his roots of farming.

In 1996 he had the opportunity to learn the citrus business and eventually take the reins of Pearson Ranch. In 1998, Pearson Ranch became one of the first (if not the first) online retailers of citrus when they launched their first website! Skip ahead to the year 2022, and you will find that Pearson Ranch continues to be a leader in the world of online citrus sales, and has branched out to include sales of not only their early and late maturing variety of California Navel Oranges and Pomelos, but has crafted partnerships with other local citrus farmers in order to sell highly prized specialty citrus-like Yuzu, Buddha Hand Citron, Meyer Lemons and a lengthy list of other unique citrus varieties. You can find "Farmer Tony" and Pearson Ranch at, Facebook, and Instagram. And "Farmer Tony's" accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

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