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Ag adventures

May/June 2010 California Country magazine

Follow one of California's many farm trails for food and fun.



Have you ever sunk your teeth into a juicy peach just moments after you plucked it from a tree? Or how about petting a piglet, learning how to spin wool or going on a cattle drive?

Those adventures and many more await consumers who venture forth on the more than 20 farm trails scattered throughout California.

"For the consumer, farm trails offer the opportunity to taste fresh, local food and experience the place where it was grown," said Lynda Browning, executive director of Sonoma County Farm Trails, one of the state's most popular farm trails. "Families can get a behind-the-scenes peek at the world of agriculture. They can dig for potatoes, milk a goat, bottle-feed a calf, see how cheese is made and pick organic fruit from a local orchard. It's exciting for everyone to learn how their food is grown and made."

And the excitement continues to build.

"With the rise of the local food movement, we've started receiving lots of calls from consumers trying to figure out where to buy local produce or where they can experience a local farm," Browning said. "There is nothing more essential than food, and buying from local farms—or local groceries or restaurants that buy from local farms—is a great way to keep your dollars circulating in the local community."

Farmers and ranchers up and down the state have opened their gates to consumers through farm trails and online guides and maps. Here's a preview of what's available at a farm near you, listed by county.

Amador

Extra virgin olive oil from historic groves; exotic Targhee sheep; real cowboys herding cattle; winetasting; daylilies in June and July; Italian and French heirloom vegetables.
ucanr.org

Butte (and nearby counties)

Antique farming artifacts and photos; U-pick peaches; tours including a dairy and cheese-making plant; award-winning olive oils; Christmas trees; custom gift baskets.
www.sierraoro.org

Calaveras

Miner's picnic; historic mountain ranch; film festival; quilt show; logging jamboree; grape stomping; fresh meats; seasonal produce; cashmere yarns.
www.calaverasgrown.org

Contra Costa

U-pick cherries, plums, peaches and nectarines; European-style farm; olive oils; winetasting; honey; hand-woven alpaca apparel; irises, daylilies and chrysanthemums.
www.harvest4you.com

El Dorado

Nature trails; picturesque wedding sites; fields of irises; Christmas trees; family crafts and activities; U-pick fruits and vegetables; bed and breakfast inns.
www.edc-farmtrails.org

Fresno

Antiques and memorabilia; Swedish village; dried fruits and nuts; blossom trail; fresh fruits and vegetables; "Got Nuts?" T-shirts and hats; specialty olives; pickled vegetables.
www.goblossomtrail.com
www.gofruittrail.com

Lake

Grape stomp competition; vineyard run; quilt show; children's activities; dance demonstrations; brush-munching goats; packing shed tours; mule-drawn wagon tours.
lakecountyag.com

Mariposa

Old-fashioned wagon rides; alpaca, sheep and cattle ranches; arts and crafts; grape stomping; pony rides; living history skits; agri-nature trail.
www.mariposaagtour.com

Placer

Seasonal produce including mandarins, pomegranates, specialty melons and squash; meats; wines; school tours; garden art and decor; Angora goats and Jacob's sheep.
www.placergrown.org

San Bernardino

Schoolhouse museum; nighttime nature walks; weddings, reunions and retreats; old-fashioned barn dance; fresh apples and fresh-pressed cider; breads, jams and fruit butters.
www.oakglen.net

San Joaquin

Vineyard-to-bottle education in one of California's top wine regions; food and wine pairing; arts and crafts; bicycling; picnicking; classic car show.
www.lodiwine.com

San Luis Obispo

Horseback riding; Old West museum; overnight cattle drive; wedding sites; U-picks including berries and flowers in spring, apples in summer and pumpkins in fall.
www.agadventures.org

Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito

Fresh and dried produce; gift boxes; chocolate-dipped apricots and prunes; horseback riding; U-pick cherries; chestnuts; Christmas trees; wedding sites; rare and unusual roses.
www.sccfb.com

Shasta

Eggs; livestock including miniature Hereford cattle; vegetables; English walnuts; melons; ornamental gourds; U-pick boysenberries; Asian pears; carved ostrich eggs; raw mohair.
www.clearcreekcsd.com

Solano

Blues music; arts fair; heirloom tomatoes; walnuts and almonds; dried fruits; specialty trail mixes; vegetables offered for U-pick and farm stand sales; farm tours for schools.
www.solanocounty.com
www.suisunvalley.com

Sonoma

Pumpkin patches; honey farm; artisan cheese; butterfly gardens; bed and breakfast inns; arts and ecology; corn maze; hayrides; fresh vegetables and melons; dahlias; Western outpost; Packard cars.
www.farmtrails.org

Stanislaus

Fresh fruits and vegetables; almonds and walnuts; winetasting; honey; arts and crafts. E-mail the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau at programs@stanfarmbureau.com to request a map.

Tehama

Olives and olive oil; abbey tours; walnuts and almonds; winetasting.
www.tehamatrail.com

Trinity

Winetasting; working ranch; fresh fruits and vegetables; llamas; historic barns; heirloom orchards; equestrian clinics.
www.trinityroots.org

Tuolumne

Eggs; flowers and herbs; llamas and alpacas; lavender; honey; olive oil; Christmas trees; guest ranches; bed and breakfast inns.
www.farmsoftuolumnecounty.org

Yolo

Berries, cherries, apples and peaches; almonds and walnuts; herbs and flowers; working wool mill; sustainable agriculture learning laboratory.
www.yolocvb.net

Yuba-Sutter

Seasonal produce including tomatoes, walnuts, mandarins, nectarines, pears, pomegranates, figs and apples; food culture museum; pumpkin farms; winetasting; olive oil.
www.visityubasutter.com

Agritourism Database

UC Small Farm Program's California Agritourism Database provides a searchable list of agritourism operations in California.
www.calagtour.org

Steve Adler is a reporter for California Country. He can be reached at 800-698-FARM or sadler@californiacountry.org.


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