This self-guided tour is in it’s third year, however this was my first time attending. The tour highlighted ten family farms in the Pajaro Valley, all implementing organic farming practices. Each farming operation was unique in it’s own way. I’ve outlined the highlights of each below.
Tasty tasty apples! This farm provided a short tour around the main barn, home to an apple processing line which was designed by a second generation farmer in a high school class. The farm is now run by third and fourth generation farmers, initially started in the 1940’s! This family of Italian farmers is lucky to have purchased land with some infrastructure already there (barn, house, cold storage – pictured below). The farmer giving the tour noted how cost prohibitive cold storage is today, and how most farmers outsource this service.
Each bin in the photo above can hold 900 pounds of apples. Whoa! The farmer mentioned how the drought impacted their apple harvest last year. The cold storage room was practically empty. This year it’s been much better (as you can see from the picture).
Inside the barn there were apples, pears, kabocha squash, apple butter, and jams to taste. I took home a kabocha squash to roast. 🙂
Lonely Mountain Farm
The land of goats. More specifically Nigerian Dwarf goats. This farmer sells goats’ milk soap and makes goat cheese for personal consumption. The farm had three donkeys and fields of veggies as well.
Live Earth Farm
So I didn’t actually go to this farm. I’ve been there numerous times (even camped out there). But I will say it’s well worth visiting if you have the chance. Not only is the farm itself beautiful, but they have a great demonstration garden and nutrition classroom where school children come to learn. The woman who runs the program is an amazing lady. 🙂
Terra Sole Nursery
This nursery overlooked some beautiful parts of the Pajaro Valley. There was a succulent demo for kids and loads of them for sale (some pictured above). The variety of colors and shapes never ceases to amaze me. I love them all!
New Natives Farm
Walking into this sprout operation’s main greenhouse, I initially thought it was a field of grass. But on further inspection I realized it was a diverse field of edible sprouts. Some varieties growing were broccoli, arugula, sunflower, and wheatgrass. The farm prepared some vegan pesto using the sprouts for sampling, in addition to putting out fresh sprouts for munching.
Perhaps the best part was when I commented to a friend how I loved the random goats walking around outside, and the man standing next to me (participating in the tour) responded, “Oh that’s my goat out there with my daughter”. The goat was out for the day with the family, as the family pet!
The nine acre farm is one of many Lakeside Organic farms throughout the region. They are Certified Organic and gave out fresh spinach and cauliflower to all visitors. 🙂
This new farm (only a few months old!) grows medicinal herbs. The farmer creates tinctures and other natural health remedies. Her partner discussed the issue of affordable land in the area. Right now they are only able to lease the land for use.
Veggies and art! I think the squash above speak for themselves (look at that crazy colored one!), but what isn’t shown is the on-site art studio. There were rooms of oil color paintings for sale, capturing the beauty of Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and so many other local natural landmarks.
Dos Aguilas Farm
Olives! This is the first U-pick olive farm I’ve ever been to. I will definitely be going back to pick, as the olives and olive oil I tasted were both delicious.
Whiskey Hill Farm
This farm wins the most innovative award. Home to more greenhouses then the USDA has for research, this operation is doing some pretty interesting stuff. They grow mostly tropical plants, such as turmeric (pictured above), ginger, and sugar cane. The soil is heated, instead of the air – making plant growth much more energy efficient. These plants thrive in the greenhouses without any offsite energy source being pumping in. How? Well the farm also does alcohol biofuel production (using other crops grown onsite). CO2 and heat are byproducts of ethanol distillation, and used to heat the soil. Pretty neat stuff.
NASA is working with the farm to study the science and practicality of implementing their systems in other environments (there was talk of mars!).