Today and Sunday the orange and grapefruit groves of Orcutt Ranch, 23600 Roscoe Blvd., Canoga Park, are there for the picking. Once a year the orchards are open to the public, and it's strictly BYOB--bring your own bag--to carry the fruit home. And bring a ladder if you're determined to get the fruit at the top of the trees (A-frame ladders only, at least 6 feet, for safety reasons). The staff will have fruit pickers (those long-handled contraptions that pluck fruit you can't reach) for rent for $1. One closely enforced rule: no climbing in the trees.
Families may pick as much fruit as they want. The park will charge $1 per grocery sack. While it might seem that one large bag would be enough for any family, it's not unusual for families to get carried away by the fun and pick so many bagfuls that Mom or Dad has bring the car around to cart away the pickings.
Orcutt Ranch, now a wonderfully shady city park, was once the estate of William Orcutt, a geologist and pioneer excavator of La Brea Tar Pits. Built in the 1920s, the ranch house is still as it was 60 years ago, while the grounds are lush with very non-Valley vegetation. There's a rose garden, herb garden and lovely ferns by a stream. Families may picnic anywhere in the park. For tables, head across the bridge to the south side of the stream where there is a small picnic grove.
Fruit-picking hours are 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Information: (818) 883-6641.