20+ Summer Farm Getaways for Ag-Hungry City Folks
Brie Mazurek, CUESA Staff
July 1, 2016
Need a delicious excuse to get out of the city? Taste tomatoes fresh off the vine, soak up some sun, pick up DIY skills, and meet the people behind your food on a weekend farm field trip.
With California’s heartland in the Bay Area’s backyard, we’re blessed with a bounty of agricultural experiences all summer long, from berry u-picks and ranch picnics to farm campouts and harvest festivals. Agritourism provides a win-win for urban and rural communities, offering educational and recreational fun for farm-curious city dwellers, while bringing valuable income to family farmers.
We’ve collected some upcoming farm events to fill your weekends with dirt-under-the-fingernails delight this summer and fall. Many require advance reservations, so be sure to click the links for details.
CUESA Food & Farm Tours
Each year, CUESA offers about six full-day excursions to explore the farms and facilities of our market sellers. The next one will be on July 10, a berry and tomato u-pick adventure to Glashoff Farms and Capay Organic. Perfect for busy city dwellers, tours include round-trip bus transportation and a delicious farm-fresh lunch. Stay tuned to the CUESA’s e-letter to hear about upcoming tours.
CUESA U-Pick Summer Fruit Farm Tour: July 10 (ticketed)
Happy Girl Kitchen Co., Oakland
Get a taste of farm life without leaving the Bay Area. Happy Girl Kitchen hosts workshops at a Victorian house built in 1892 in the Temescal district of North Oakland. The kitchen opens onto a back porch overlooking the oldest surviving barn in Oakland. From pickling to jam making, Happy Girl will show you how to preserve summer’s best.
Barn Fair: July 10
Food Preservation Workshops: Check schedule (ticketed)
Swanton Berry Farm, Davenport and Pescadero
Food Justice Certified organic trailblazer Swanton Berry Farm offers a strawberry u-pick at their two locations off Highway 1. Be sure to stop by their coastal farm stand in Davenport for hot soup, fresh berry pies, strawberry lemonade, and a tasting of their berry jams.
Organic Strawberry U-Pick: Runs through September
Glashoff Farms, Fairfield
Break out your best cobbler recipe after your trip to Glashoff Farms. Larry and Maria Glashoff offer a u-pick during berry season, usually May through July. Boysenberries and marionberries have come and gone, but blackberry season is at its peak and should last another three weeks.
Blackberry U-Pick: Runs through mid-July (by appointment only! email the Glashoffs)
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, Point Reyes
A short drive north of San Francisco, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company hosts regular farm tours, cheese tastings, dinners, cooking classes, and other events at The Fork, their culinary and education center. Events sell out quickly, so sign up for their newsletter to be in the know.
Farm Tour and Cheese Tasting with Cheese Expert Gordon Edgar: July 15 (ticketed)
Kids in the Kitchen Class with Chef Jennifer Luttrell: July 29 (ticketed)
Capay Organic, Capay
Capay Organic (aka Farm Fresh to You) in Yolo County welcomes thousands of visitors each year through its tours, dinners, and festivals. Events like their annual Capay Tomato Festival offer something for everyone, with tasting, harvesting, farm animal petting, tractor tram rides, live music, crafts for kids, and optional overnight camping in the fruit orchard.
9th Annual Capay Tomato Festival: July 16 (ticketed)
Free Farm Tour: August 20
Eatwell Farm, Dixon
From their May Strawberry Days to a Pumpkin Party in the fall, Eatwell Farm offers fun farm activities that create community around harvesting, preserving, and sharing good food. Next up is their series of Tomato Sauce Canning Parties: harvest ripe and juicy organic tomatoes from the farm, and learn how to create delicious tomato sauce to savor the rest of the year. Don’t worry if you’ve never canned before—just roll your sleeves up, and someone will show you how. Cap the day off with a community potluck and sleepover on the farm.
Tomato Sauce Canning Party and Sleepover: July 23-24, August 6-7, August 20-21 (ticketed)
Annual Pumpkin Party and Harvest Market: October 9 (ticketed)
Lonely Mountain Farm, Corralitos
First-generation organic farmers Kenny and Molly Baker host dinners several times a year at Lonely Mountain Farm, just north of Watsonville. Their next one is a five-course affair prepared by chef Andre Cavallaro (formerly of Marla’s Bakery) using produce from the farm, paired with beer from Corralitos Brewing Company. Keep your eyes peeled for the farm’s Nigerian dwarf goats!
Mid-Summer Farm Dinner by Andre Cavallaro: July 24 (ticketed)
Devil’s Gulch Ranch, Nicasio
A farm with an educational mission, Devil’s Gulch Ranch offers farm tours and partners with the Marin YMCA to offer summer camps for kids. Campers get to connect with nature through games, traditional skills and crafts, animal care, gardening, and other outdoor activities.
Devil’s Gulch Educational Services/YMCA Summer Day Camps: Sessions run through August 8 (registration required)
Summer Family Picnic and Open House: August 13 and 14 (RSVP required)
Gravenstein Apple Fair, Sebastopol
Kicking off the apple harvest, the Gravenstein Apple Fair celebrates Sonoma County’s rich history in apple farming by paying tribute to one of the season’s earliest—and the region’s most iconic—varieties. Expect cooking demos, an apple pie contest, apple cider, live music, pony rides, and more.
Gravenstein Apple Fair: August 13 and 14
Stemple Creek Ranch, Tomales
Fourth-generation cattle ranch Stemple Creek Ranch opens its doors several times a year to host family-friendly tours and BBQs. Check out the beautiful scenery in West Marin while learning about pasture-based ranching and enjoying burgers made from the ranch’s grass-fed beef.
Ranch Tour: August 20 (ticketed)
Annual Open House & BBQ: September 17 (ticketed)
National Heirloom Exposition, Santa Rosa
Filled with workshops, cooking demos, and exhibits, this three-day expo is a mecca for home gardeners, organic farmers, and eaters of all ages. Where else can you marvel at thousands of varieties of fruits and vegetables, hear from internationally known food activists, and take a selfie in front a 12-foot tower of heirloom winter squash?
National Heirloom Exposition: September 6-8
Farmer Olympics, Petaluma
Who’s ready to test their prowess in wheelbarrow racing, squash bowling, and watermelon seed spitting? Hosted by Farmers Guild, the Farmer Olympics is an epic day of agrarian games and merriment celebrating local food, sustainable agriculture, and the next generation of farmers.
Farmer Olympics: September 17
Achadinha Cheese Company, Petaluma
Tour the dairy and meet (and perhaps even pet!) goats up close on an Achadinha Cheese Company ranch tour. The Pacheco family also offers hands-on classes where cheese lovers can tour the cheese-making facilities, taste a variety of cheeses, and have DIY fun with curds.
Ranch Tours: Ongoing (by appointment only)
Cheese Maker Classes: September 24 and November 12 (ticketed)
Casa Rosa Farms, Capay Valley
During the fall olive harvest, Casa Rosa Farm invites families to pick their own fresh olives and camp out on the farm. Admission includes a gallon of olive oil, a tour of the olive mill, and a communal meal featuring meats and produce from the farm.
Olive Harvest: October (dates TBD; stay tuned to Casa Rosa website for details and reservations)
Public farm day through Capay Valley Grown in conjunction with Hoes Down Festival: October 2
Hoes Down Festival, Guinda
Put your hoes down and party with Full Belly Farm at this annual two-day celebration of the harvest season. Camp in the walnut orchards and enjoy farm-fresh food, farm tours, workshops, hay rides, dancing, and more
Hoes Down Festival: October 1-2
The Apple Farm, Philo
Just want a quiet getaway among the apple orchards? The Bates family offers guest cottage stays and immersive cooking weekends in a beautiful, retreat-like setting at The Apple Farm.
“Stay & Cook” and “Just Stay” Weekends: February through November (reservations required)
Tram photo from Capay Organic. Stemple Creek Ranch photo by Ana Valdes. Goat photo from Achadinha Cheese Company.