$100,000 donation will help Aliso Viejo Ranch preserve ranching history
The Aliso Viejo Ranch has received a $100,000 donation from the Orange County company whose namesake once owned the property.
The ranch sits on 7.7 acres of land once owned by the pioneering Moulton Family, which donated the property to the city of Aliso Viejo. The ranch recently underwent a restoration.
Jared Mathis, president of the Moulton Museum and CEO of the Moulton Company, and a great grandson Lewis Moulton, the original property owner, presented the $100,000 check to Aliso Viejo City Council members Ross Chun and Richard Hurt during a recent Bunkhouse BBQ event held at the ranch.
Chun and Hurt are members of the board of directors of the Aliso Viejo Ranch Foundation.
“We want to help preserve history in this area,” Mathis said. “We believe that we can learn from our history and we don’t want it to go away.
“And, we think what they are doing here in Aliso Viejo is something special and we want to help continue the growth of this site so that everybody in the region can benefit from it,” he said. “We are going to help this site stay fresh with good content.”
After a $15.5 million restoration project completed in May, the working ranch now blends agricultural, historical and educational elements.
It features a working farm, a restored bunkhouse and barn, an orchard and fish ponds and a new 8,000-square-foot barn housing historic artifacts, many that belong to the Moulton family.
The barn is a close replica of one that once stood on the property.
The donated funds will go toward maintaining and upgrading the organic gardens and groves, adding museum displays and providing educational programs for local schools, Chun said.
Produce grown at the ranch gets donated to local food banks.
“Right now, what we are looking at is the best way to return what we have developed here to the community – from donations of produce to access to our schools and access to the public in general,” Chun said. “The Moulton family support of the construction of this project and its ongoing success has been so incredible for us.
“Just lending their name to it does so much for us.,” he said. “But also, lending their financial contribution really uplifts and gives us the ability to maintain and continue the vision of this property.”
Festivities at the BBQ included roping lessons and an art exhibition by Laguna College of Art and Design.
Mathis also provided an update on the Moulton Museum, which is slated to open in Laguna Hills in the spring and will house artifacts belonging to descendants of Lewis and Nellie Moulton.
The opening exhibit will highlight the role of women on ranches, he said.
In 1874, Lewis Moulton purchased nearly 22,000 acres of land on property which became the Moulton Ranch.
Today, the land is now parts of Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods and Dana Point.
The BBQ was held in partnership with the California Rangeland Trust, a nonprofit created to protect the state’s working ranches.
“Down here, there is not a lot left in terms of working ranches,” said Michael Delbar, CEO of the trust. “But the history and the culture depend on them.”