Farms

Sun Mountain Farm (Apple Hill, CA)

AppleHillI am so ready for fall.  The summer has been lingering on for way too long and I have just about had it with the endless over 100 degree days.  One of the earliest signs of fall is when Apple Hill, located just outside Sacramento, opens to the public every year on Labor Day weekend.  Crowds of city-dwellers shed their shorts and swimsuit coverups and get dressed for a day in Apple Hill with plaid shirts, cutoff jeans and boots in a desperate attempt to get fall to make even the slightest appearance.

This weekend was actually semi-cool, meaning 86 degrees so at least some departure from the oppressive heat we have been experiencing for way too long.  We decided to really try to indulge in some cool weather by getting a really early start and meeting friends in Apple Hill at 9:30 am in the morning.  One of the best farms to get a really early start and get the full fall experience is Sun Mountain Farm, a you-pick apple farm that has been a repeat visit destination for us for years.  With friendly owners, a picnic table area and acres of apples it’s a fun adventure for anyone looking to pick their own apples and get a real farm experience.Sun Mountain FarmSun Mountain Farm is a small family farm producing many varieties of apples, blueberries and wine grapes that have been enjoyed in award winning wines from El Dorado County.  Apple varieties at the farm include Fuji, Gala, Cameo, Mutsu, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith and varieties rotate as they ripen throughout the season.  This year has been a particularly early season so apple picking started two weeks ago and should continue for the season through October.  Growing practices on the farm are personally managed with strict attention to sustainable agricultural methods and underlying scientific principles and the apples even though are not certified organic, are grown with limited chemical intervention.AppleHill9Apple you-pick is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm weekends through apple season and during the week by appointment.  Definitely call the farm ahead to ensure apples are available for picking as they do get picked over as the season gets busier.  Apples are $1 lb. and bags are sold by the $5 or $10 size and you pre-pay prior to picking.  Bring cash since the farm does not accept credit cards.AppleHill3AppleHill4AppleHill6 AppleHill11AppleHill12Sun Mountain Farm is located at 3000 N Canyon Rd in Camino, CA and can be reached by phone at 530-621-3740.  There is no running water available to guests and one outhouse restroom is available.  Parking is in a dirt lot on the edge of the farm.

For more information on Apple Hill farms visit the Apple Hill Growers Association.

Strawberry and Blueberry Picking Guide for Sacramento. (Sacramento, CA)

El Dorado Hills Strawberry Picking

It’s strawberry and blueberry season in Sacramento and there is no shortage of farms to visit this time of year. The lower foothills have another week or two of prime picking and then we slowly shift to the higher elevations where farms in Apple Hill (Camino, CA) are starting to open. Other berries start becoming available as the summer goes on so keep watching for reviews on some of our favorite farms this summer

With the summer heat our favorite times to visit local farms is at opening time early in the morning or late in the evening. Mid day picking is intense and the heat can make for miserable tots. We advise wearing heavy boots like rainboots or cowboy style boots for extra protection from terrain and snakes, hats and layered clothing. We usually try to bring a picnic whenever we set out to have when we finish picking and lots of water.

Here is our list of the farms that are open now.  Many of our favorite farms have already closed for the season or are gearing up operations for next year.  This is a list of area farms that are open.  If we missed something let us know!

Strawberry You Pick Farms Near Sacramento

Davis Ranch
You Pick strawberry farm and farmstand.
3501 Jackson Rd
Sloughhouse, CA

El Dorado Hills Natural Farms
You pick strawberry farm and limited farmstead
1941 Old Bass Lake Rd
El Dorado Hills, CA

Blueberry You Pick Farms Near Sacramento

Bolster’s Hilltop Ranch
You pick blueberries
2000 Larsen Drive
Camino, CA

Goodness Orchard
You pick blueberries by appointment only
4341 Pony Express Trail
Camino, CA

Once in a Blue Moon Berries
You pick organic blueberries
1820 Arroyo Vista Way
El Dorado Hills, CA

 

Davis Ranch Strawberry Picking (Sloughouse, CA)

Just a short drive from Sacramento or Folsom, Davis Ranch is a local farmstand that has year-round farm activities for visitors young and old. Davis Ranch is a working farm and produce stand located in Sloughhouse CA. Known for it’s famous Sloughhouse Sweet Corn, we first heard about the farm when a coworker of my Husband brought us a bag of the sweetest corn we had ever tried almost ten years ago. If you haven’t had our famous corn, ask someone who has and they will tell you what you are missing. Davis Ranch hosts events throughout the year along with you-pick vegetables and strawberries. They also offer choose and cut Christmas Trees available starting the day after Thanksgiving and going until the week of Christmas.

During the spring the farm offers visitors farm-grown asparagus and it’s worth the drive! It’s so sweet and fresh that now we only buy asparagus from Davis Ranch. Around the same time, usually April or May strawberries start ripening in the you-pick area. Unlike other strawberry farms this one has raised pots of stawberries that are easy to pick without bending down.

The strawberry patch is located behind the farmstand next to the parking area. If there is no attendant at the strawberry picking area, guests are asked to come to the farmstand where they can pick up baskets and scissors along with instructions for picking.

Expect to spend about 20-30 minutes picking for each basket. It gets hot in this part of California especially during late spring and summer so take breaks at the shaded picnic tables next to the you-pick area and bring lots of water! After berries are picked and baskets are full payment is made back at the farmstead registers. The farmstand takes all forms of payment. Don’t forget to pick up seasonal farmstand favorites like oranges, cucumbers, squash, cherries, melons and more!

We like to pack a picnic and cool off in the shade after we make our purchases. Since school groups can sometimes be visiting the farm too, a picnic blanket is recommended if the tables are full. There is no running water at the farm so plan accordingly. Restrooms are outhouse style.

For more tips read about our visit last year to Davis Ranch.

Davis Ranch is waiting for you to explore at 3501 Jackson Rd, Sloughhouse, CA 95683 or reach them by phone at 916.682.2658 or online at davisranchproduce.com

El Dorado Hills Natural Farms. (El Dorado Hills, CA)

Strawberry PIcking

We usually drive long distances to find in-season local fruit and vegetables that we can pick ourselves. This time of year, we don’t have to go far to get our fix. We live in the foothills outside of Sacramento, CA and we have some aweome local you-pick farms less than five miles from our house.

Strawberry season usually starts sometime in late March or early April and continues through November depending on the weather that year. We watch our local you-pick organic strawberry farm closely and since we drive by almost every day this is easy to do. El Dorado Hills Natural Farms is located just off Hwy 50 in El Dorado Hills off the Bass Lake Rd. exit. For anyone traveling to South Lake Tahoe this farm is a really easy stop off since the farm is actually visible from the highway.

Strawberries

El Dorado Hills Natural Farms is the only chicken, fruit and vegetable farm on the western slope of El Dorado County and they offer seasonal berries and some other selections along with farm eggs. The farm was a large dairy farm in the early-to-mid 1900’s and now has returned to its agricultural beginnings. The local farmer owners follow all-natural pest and weed control methods to provide pesticide-free products.

Strawberry picking is open weekends in the early season and opens more days as the season goes on. The El Dorado Hills Natural Farms Facebook page is the best resource to see when the farm is open and what’s available. The farm hosts community events complete with music and food throughout the year along with their public picking hours. There is also a farmstand during peak season for those customers that don’t want to pick.

El Dorado Hills Natural Farms

Since El Dorado Hills is rattlesnake territory we make sure to wear our thickest rainboots or outdoor boots and keep a vigilant watch on our tots while they are picking. Some picnic tables are available for snacking or a quick lunch. Parking is in a dirt lot right in front of the farm entrance. The farm is cash only so hit the ATM before you go.

EL Dorado Hills Natural FarmsStrawberry PickingStrawberries

El Dorado Hills Natural Farms is located at 1941 Old Bass Lake Rd., El Dorado Hills, CA and hours vary by season.

Daffodil Hill.

Daffodil Hill is a yearly tradition for many of my friends that live near us and I just haven’t caught the timing right to visit during the short season since we moved to El Dorado County. The season only lasts around a month, opening sometime in early March and usually closing towards the beginning of April. This year’s season was even shorter due to El Nino rainy weather.

I became obsessed with the ability to make the trek to see this brief performance of floral brilliance this year. I stalked Daffodil Hill using every form of social media, and found a day they were open from their Facebook page and we were available to go. When we got a brief break in the storms, that were coming in one after another, I grabbed some of our oldest friends and we set out for a fun day out in Amador County. The drive from El Dorado Hills takes about 1.5 hours and the roads aren’t for city folk. The country roads wind and dip through some of the most picturesque scenery around. Small towns, wine country and farmland keep tots noses pressed against the window for most of the drive.

The road to the farm is windy and the non-paved driveway becomes too dangerous for visitors during rainstorms and right after them so the farm closes frequently because of weather. Make sure to call or visit their Facebook page to make sure they are open to visitors because the trip to get there isn’t a short one.

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Weather permitting, Daffodil Hill is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking and admission are free; donations are welcome. A large picnic area is available with shaded picnic tables.  Pets are not allowed. Outhouse style restrooms are available.  No running water.


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Daffodil Hill is closed for the 2016 season.

Daffodil Hill is at 18310 Rams Horn Grade, Volcano, about 55 miles from Sacramento. Call 209-296-7048 for more information

Farms and Farmstands To Visit March. (Northern, CA)

Davis Ranch

Farm season is starting and some farms and farmstands in Northern California are starting to open. Here is a list of some that we recommend.

  1. This list includes only farmstands that are open to the public and don’t require reservations.  Look for a list of farm visits by appointment in a future post.
  2. These are only farmstands that are open for business in March.
  3. We didn’t include produce stores, just traditional stands.
  4. In the next month or two this list is going to get much longer so stick with us.  For now, try to visit a  farmstand you haven’t tried yet.
  5. Some local farmstands don’t just feature their own produce, they source selections from around the state and beyond.  If you are trying to just eat organic or just local (or both) make sure to ask questions and choose carefully.  I still like buying my produce from a farmstand instead of a big grocery store, even if it’s not all local.

El Dorado County

Boa Vista Orchards (Farmstand)
Open Daily
2952 Carson Road
Placerville, CA
www.boavista.com

Placer County

Ikeda’s California Country Market (Produce Stand)
Open Daily
13500 Lincoln Way
Auburn, CA
www.ikedas.com

Otow Orchard (Farmstand)

Tue-Thu 11:30 am to 1:30 pm and Fri-Sun 10:00 am to 6:00 pm 6232 Eureka Road
Granite Bay, CA
www.otoworchard.com
Sacramento County
Davis Ranch (Farmstand)
Open Daily
13211 Jackson Road
Sloughhouse, CA
www.davisranchproduce.com

Kingbird Farms (Farmstand CSA)
Digital Farmstand, Order Between Monday-Thursday On Website, Pick Up Friday afternoon-Saturday
8869 Orr Road
Galt, CA
www.kingbirdfarms.com

Yolo County

Full Belly Farm (Farmstand)
Open Fridays from 2:00 pm-6:00 pm
16090 County Road 43
Guinida, CA
www.fullbellyfarm.com

Ikeda’s California Country Market (Produce Stand)
Open Daily
26295 Mace Blvd.
Davis, CA
www.ikedas.com

Loving Nature Farm (Farmstand CSA)
Open Daily
38883 Z Line Road
Clarksburg, CA
www.lovingnaturefarm.com

Pedrick Produce (Produce Stand)
6850 Sievers Road
Dixon, CA
no website

Yolo Fruit Stand (Produce Stand)
Open Daily
46710 County Road 32B
Davis, CA
no website

Don’t see your favorite farmstand on our list? It could be closed this time of year or maybe it slipped by us! Leave us a comment if you want to see a farmstand added to our list. We love hearing from you.

March in California. Tot Friendly Food Festivals and Events.

March is here! After a break over the winter we are back and it’s time to start planning for weekend tot friendly family activities. There aren’t many events yet, since weather is changeable this time of year, so make sure to plan early for the events that are happening in our area. If there isn’t any events that your family can attend make sure to get out and support your local farmer’s market or farmstand.

 

Sacramento and Surrounding Area

Davis Pig Day

March 5, 2016, 9:00 am-1:00 pm
Fourth and C streets in Davis, CA
Pig Day, celebrating all things pork at the Davis Farmer’s Market along with celebrating local agriculture, local farmers and local foods. Bring your appetites for individually priced items from vendors, including breakfast sammies (with bacon or pulled pork), pigs-in-a-blanket, pork fried rice with vegetables, pork ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, piggy pops (French bread on a stick shaped like a pig’s head), pig cookies and bacon-flavored “frozen confections.”
A petting zoo of piglets and other children’s activities will be on site, as well.
http://www.davisfarmersmarket.org

Soil Born Farms Early Spring Plant Sale

March 19, 2016, 9:00am – 01:30pm
Sacramento, CA
Fill your early spring garden with seasonal vegetables, flowers, medicinal and/ culinary herbs and edible perennials, including fruit trees.
www.soilbornfarms.com

Bay Area and Beyond

Petaluma Artisan Cheese Festival Cheese Tasting and Marketplace
March 20, 2016
Petaluma, CA
The last day of the Petaluma Artisan Cheese Festival and one the tots can participate in. A day under the big top for an afternoon like no other! Meet over 90 artisan producers and experience the best of local cheese, wine, beer, ciders and other specialty foods. Discover the next wave of interesting cheese accompaniments, cheesemaking products and books. Pick up new recipes, tips and tricks at chef demos scheduled throughout the day. Bring your pocketbook as there will be an opportunity to purchase your favorite cheeses and artisan products. Your ticket includes admission, access to chef demos and author book signings, the coveted Artisan Cheese Festival insulated cheese tote bag and a festival wine glass. $45 per person, $20 for kids 12 and under.
http://artisancheesefestival.com/

Sacramento Farmer’s Market. (Sacramento, CA)

1452555425_full.jpegThere are no farmer’s markets in our town during the winter so we have to get out to find local fruit and vegetables. One of the largest markets in Sacramento is the Sacramento Farmer’s Market on Sunday that takes place under the freeway at 10th St. and W St.

1452555700_thumb.jpegWe have been going to this market since we moved to the Sacramento area almost 10 years ago. It’s known for being one of the least expensive markets with bulk fruit and vegetable selections from around California available for prices that seem to be slightly less than some of the other local markets.

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There are olive oil vendors, honey vendors, wineries, bakeries and more each weekend and the market gets larger and smaller depending on the season.

Some of our favorite purchases this weekend were large 10 lb. bags of mandarins and oranges, kiwis, broccoli, eggs and pretzels.

Parking is available in free lots surrounding the market along with outhouse style restrooms.

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The Sacramento Central Farmer’s Market is located at 8th and W St. and runs from 8:00 am- 12 pm year-round.

Year in Review. Farms of 2015.

We visited so many farms in 2015 and learned something at each unpaved country road. As we start a new year we wanted to revisit all of the places we discovered last year and create a reference for anyone wanting to get closer to where their food comes from in California. We begin this review with all the new farms we found. This week follow along as we review the trips, farmer’s markets, restaurants, shops and more that we visited in 2015.

Apple Farms

Boa Vista Orchards Farmstand (Placerville, CA)

El Dorado Orchards (Camino, CA)

Larsen Apple Barn (Camino, CA)

Top 10 Farms to Get Closer to Nature (Apple Hill, CA)

Berry Farms

Harris Tree Farm (Pollock Pines, CA)

Once in a Blue Moon Berries (El Dorado Hills, CA)

Mandarin Farms

Struble Ranch (Loomis, CA)

Colwell Thundering Herd Ranch (Penryn, CA)

Pumpkin Farms

Fog Willow Farms (Wilton, CA)

Tree Farms

Roberts Christmas Tree Farm (Pollock Pines, CA)

Teaching Farms

Soil Born Farms (Rancho Cordova, CA)

Farmstands

24Carrot Farm (Placerville, CA)

Davis Ranch (Sloughouse, CA)

South Fork Farm (Placerville, CA)

Strawberry Stands (Sacramento, CA)

Mountain Mandarin Orchard Days (Northern CA)

December is mandarin season in the Sierra Foothills and growers celebrate the harvest with the Mountain Mandarin Orchard Days the first and third weekends of December. Participating mandarin ranches in Penryn, Newcastle, Loomis, Lincoln and Auburn have family-friendly activities ready for visitors looking to learn more about mandarins including

  • Artists and Crafters
  • Mandarin Product Sampling including Oils, Sauces, Honey, Juice, Cookies, Cakes, Fudge and Spreads
  • Local Wine and Ale Tasting
  • Visit with Santa
  • Farm Animals
  • Face Painting
  • Old-fashioned Kids’ Carousels
  • You Pick Mandarins
  • Other winter fruits and vegetables including oranges, lemons, persimmons and squash
  • Plenty of Bags and Boxes of Local Tree-Ripened, Hand-Picked Mandarins

Mountain Mandarin Orchard Days are December 5, 6, 19 and 20 from 10am – 4pm each day. Ranches are located throughout Placer County, just a short drive from Sacramento, located between Sacramento and Tahoe off Interstate 80. (more…)