The eastern section of Los Angeles County is made up of a series of little communities, each separately incorporated. Directly north of the Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia and east of Pasadena, the little town of Sierra Madre was originally an enclave devoted to farming, ranching, and summer homes for wealthy Angelenos. One of the early settlers, Edwin Waldo Ward Sr,, began a citrus farm on property he bought in 1891. His ‘day job’ in the specialty food business gave him the background needed to begin a second career as a purveyor of orange marmalade to train lines during the early part of the twentieth century.
Four generations later, E. Waldo Ward is still in the business of making marmalade, but the company has expanded its line to include jellies, preserves, jams, fruit butters, sauces, marinades, relishes, and fruit syrups. In addition, imported Spanish olives and other vegetables and fruits are canned on the property and then transported to local specialty food stores, some of which sell E Waldo Ward products under their own private labels.
Visitors to Sierra Madre can check out the premises, which are still located on the original farmstead at 273 Highland Avenue. Tours of the property are given on Saturdays but must be arranged in advance. Callers will see the original house, built in 1903, as well as the 1902 barn that houses a small museum documenting the life of the company. There is also a cannery and factory building on the site, where the business continues over a hundred years past its original inception.
Visiting the site is a delightful experience. Stepping onto the property from the street is something akin to time travel; within a city block lies orchards and the makings of a business which still feels vintage. A small gift shop carries the company’s products and gives the visitor a chance to chat with employees, some of whom have worked for E Waldo Ward for decades. Closed on Saturday, the shop is open during the late morning and early afternoon on all other days; specific hours can be found on the company's web site.
Those who cannot visit E Waldo Ward in person or find the company’s products in stores need go no further than the Internet. E Waldo Ward has its own Web page, where shoppers can connect to the site’s blog, peruse historical pictures of the business, and order products either by the jar or packaged as gifts. Visitors to ewaldoward.com can also view recipes and link social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube videos, and the company’s blog.