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Osuna Ranch is getting property upgrades with the help of RSF Garden Club grants. Courtesy photos
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Osuna Ranch improvements welcome even non-equestrians

The Osuna Ranch has undergone property improvements with the help of three consecutive Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club grants beginning in 2015. While Osuna Ranch is known for its horse-keeping operations, The Rancho Santa Fe Association is creating another type of ambiance for its non-equestrian Covenant residents. 

The first Garden Club grant was $7,500, followed by two more at $10,000 each.

Caitlin Kreutz, Parks and Recreation assistant manager for the RSF Association, said the first grant was used to put in some large native planters and a dry stock border around the beds. Along with this, hundreds of plants and 20 trees were planted.

Osuna Ranch, which dates to the 1830s, was designated a national historic site last year by the National Park Service.

“We did that right around the adobe,” she said. “The second phase was to continue to expand this landscaping out towards either side of the adobe. We made the gardens a little bit bigger and used it to demarcate spaces for people to gather.”

Kreutz said adding gathering places was a mission for the Association.

One of the communal areas behind the adobe overlooks a pasture that runs along Via de la Valle. Last year, a tree planting event was held in collaboration with the Forest Health and Preservation Committee. According to Kreutz, about 50 new trees were planted. 

“We have a plant pallet that we use that is inspired by a historical landscaping report that we got from the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society,” Kreutz said. “It’s mainly natives, but also we put in some pepper trees like the big ones that you’ll see right in front of the adobe — we also have an opuntia cactus that was used by Osuna family.” 

Kreutz said the opuntia cactus was initially used to harvest the cochineal bug from the plant.

“Inside, it was very bright red that was used for dye,” she said.

Part of the Garden Club grant money went to interpretative signage, which highlights the plants and their original usage and importance.

Kreutz said that after the second grant, the Association elongated the trail coming from behind the Adobe, going down the hill. With the third grant, they were able to add another new trail extension which continues toward the north.

“There also a little seating node that overlooks the lower pasture,” Kreutz said.

Now, the entire trail is about a quarter of a mile. Kreutz also noted there is a trail that goes around the west side of the Osuna property that leads into other trails.

The newest seating area for Covenant residents overlooks Via de la Valle but faces west.

“The Association and the Osuna committee really wanted to create a space for kids and adults that aren’t riders but can still enjoy the property,” she said. “That’s one of our main goals right now.”

While landscaping and other improvement projects have been underway, the Osuna Ranch obtained its National Historic Designation last year from the National Park Service, a branch of the Department of the Interior. Build in the early 1830s, the Osuna Adobe was granted this distinction. In addition to the architecture, the Osuna Adobe was a gathering place for the Californios before the Battle of San Pasqual (Mexican American War).

“We encourage residents to come out and visit Osuna Ranch,” Kreutz said.

She said the property looks different from when the Association acquired it back in 2006.

“We did a lot of work,” Kreutz said, adding that the Association work crews did a fantastic job. “This property has a nice pastoral feel and is great for picnics.”