Welburn Gourd Farm in De Luz Canyon
The oldest musical instruments on the planet grow on Doug and Sue Welburn's 75-acre spread in De Luz Canyon. Every year around Thanksgiving, they harvest 350,000 of them. They're "the world's largest supplier of organic hard-shelled gourds." Fresh gourds are like melons — 95 percent water. But the summer sun sucks out the liquid and bakes them until they're hollow and hard, like wood. The gourd heritage is long: 8000 years ago, before pottery or baskets, our ancestors used them to store food, carry beer, ladle water, hold holy relics, rattle with seeds for dancing. Others stretched skins over them and made drums. Now, every March, Native Americans, Hawaiians, and musicians come looking for potential drums, rattles, xylophones, nose flutes, and sound boxes for spike fiddles. Arts-and-crafters come seeking gourds for birdhouses, Christmas ornaments, purses, even necklaces. So does that make San Diego the Gourd Capital of the World?