When Julie Sandino and her husband Rusty Areias purchased a sprawling 32-acres alongside the San Luis Creek on the outskirts of Gustine in 1997, the both knew there was a wealth of possibilities awaiting an unveiling.
Now, 25 years later, the couple has launched the site as The Bird Ranch at San Luis Creek, a boutique event venue and farm stay, where “rustic and elegance come together.”
The Bird Ranch at San Luis Creek was settled in 1906 as a chicken farm. Many of the buildings that were on the chicken ranch back then, like the farmhouse, the coop, the shower room and the barn have been refurbished, and in some cases, repurposed to give guests a variety of rooms at the ranch.
The Bird Ranch is the fourth farm stay in California. It’s an idea that melds ecotourism and agritourism and allows guests to slow down and experience a rural lifestyle. At the Bird ranch there are three bedrooms in the main farmhouse, alongside a loft bedroom in the original tank house. The chicken coop was converted into sthree private charming-unique bedrooms. The creek runs alongside the property and the couple added in a swimming pool for cool dips when the weather gets warm. The addition of an outdoor brick pizza oven gives the entire place a feel of a hidden villa.
The barn has been refurbished to host a variety of events, including indoor weddings, or guests can opt for one of the many picturesque spots around the property.
The Bird Ranch is also a place for students in the area to learn about the region’s ecosystem.
“The Bird Ranch provides an opportunity to experience what the Valley was like 150 years ago with some of the largest cottonwood trees in California, some 150 feet tall and 46 feet in diameter — all canopying the San Luis Creek, a navigable stream that runs through the property,” said Sandino. “The Bird Ranch provides the only section of the San Luis Creek still covered with trees. The antiquated irrigation system is also an interesting feature of the Ranch.”
The Bird Ranch has partnered with the Grassland Environmental Education Center and through that partnership they are able to give students an opportunity to learn about the various attributes of the property - from the blue heron rookery to the history of the San Luis Creek.
“We are partnering with [them] on the ranch for students to engage with nature, and learn about how land, water, and sustainable agriculture are key to the health of our community, state, and the broader Pacific Flyway,” Sandino said. “We are also partnering with Ducks Unlimited on a restoration project to restore the last stretch of the San Luis Creek and restore ag land back to its natural habitat of wetlands on the ranch.”
The couple hopes to see lots of visitors to the Ranch so they can show them all the wonders. The ranch is located at 26901 Fahey Road in Gustine. For more information email BirdRanch209Proud@gmail.com.