October 19, 2017
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Local farms to open their doors next weekend

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
October 6, 2017

Farm Trails is hosting an open house weekend on October 14 and 15, with thirty farms, restaurants and artisanal food producers participating to allow the public a behind-the-scenes to look at our bountiful agriculturally-driven county. The organization promotes this “Weekends along the Farm Trails” seasonal farm tour in the fall as well as “Blossoms, Bees & Barnyard Babies” in the spring.

“While the spring tour has more baby farm animals and more flowers, in the fall we have more seasonal crops like squash and pumpkin patches participating,” says Samantha Harmon, Project Manager for Sonoma County Farm Trails.

This will be the fourth year of the fall tour, with about 2,500 visitors attending last year. Many of the destinations are not normally open to the public, so it is a special opportunity to talk to the farmers and find out where a lot of our food comes from.

“It’s definitely increasing in popularity which is exciting,” says Harmon. “I think the secret is out. There are certain stops that are going to be more popular, and those usually include the ones with baby animals. What I would tell guests is if they want to go somewhere that’s a little quieter where they can get more one-on-one with farmers, gear their experience towards more vegetable farms versus those that are heavy with animals which is a big attraction for families with kids.”

The event promises to offer something for everyone. Artful Arrangements in Penngrove, an agricultural nonprofit on a 100-year-old homestead that seeks to foster quality time for parents and children, will offer various activities including allowing children to plant-a-plant with a parent’s help for free, as well as self-guided grounds tours that includes feeding the chickens. There will also be an open art studio and gift shop offering handmade painted items for home and garden, living-plant gifts and nature necklaces. 

Other family favorites include farms with pumpkin patches and harvest activities and those with farm animals. McClelland’s Dairy in Petaluma will boast a petting farm and hay maze and visitors can join a farm tour and milk a cow by hand. At Glenhill Farm & Gardens in Petaluma, kids can visit farm animals and enjoy the u-pick pumpkin patch, and adults can enjoy fresh produce and artisanal gifts. 

In Sonoma, the Rhone Room, a wine studio and farm of the Girl & the Fig restaurant, will offer guided tours of the culinary garden and wine tasting in the new wine studio. On Sunday the Rhone Room will also have the Fig Rig Food Truck available, serving a farm-to-table menu. Preston Farm and Winery in Healdsburg will offer a u-pick pumpkin patch and farm scavenger hunt, a farm store and complimentary wine tasting for Farm Trails ticket holders. On Sunday the farm will also offer a farm to pizza communal bake in their home-made wood-fired oven, where visitors can build their own pizza with farm-grown vegetables. 

Farm Trails advises visitors to read the itinerary closely and plan their route ahead of time, as cell phone reception in some remote locations can be poor and some locations are only open one day. Once participants register for the free tickets, they are routed to an interactive map that is searchable by various categories such as “farm animals,” “kid-friendly,” “self-guided tours,” “u-pick,” etc. Once the selections are made, the directory will then “make a trail” which creates a map of the desired locations.

“It’s a great time to think about holiday shopping because our producers will have fresh produce for sale but also they’ll have more value added products like olive oil or preserves or even wool blankets,” says Harmon. “There will be a lot of great gift ideas. There is also a lot of food on the trail so I would say to come hungry!”

For more information or to register visit fallfarmtrails.eventbrite.com.