apple hill

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.

5 Places to Get Outside in Northern CA This Weekend. (Northern, CA)

Anyone else getting housebound with all this rain? We are not complaining. We just have to get out of here and fast. Here are some weekend ideas we are kicking around and wanted to share with all our Farm Tots friends here in Northern CA.

Full Belly Farm Tour-Full Belly Farm is a certified organic farm in the Capay Valley in northern California and this Saturday they are offering a public event with a farm tour. The tour starts at 11:00 am and guests can bring a picnic lunch to have at the farm after the tour.

Full Belly Farm
16090 County Road 43
Guinda, CA

Daffodil Hill-Each spring Daffodil Hill explodes with thousands of blooms, attracting visitors from around the world to this farm that is open to the public. Admission is free and the season only lasts for the daffodil season.

Daffodil Hill
18310 Rams Horn Grade
Volcano, California
Open daily 10:00 am-4:00 pm

Soil Born Farms Early Spring Plant Sale-Visit this community farm stand for their annual plant sale and fill your early spring garden with seasonal vegetables, flowers, medicinal and/ culinary herbs and edible perennials, including fruit trees.

Soil Born Farms
2140 Chase Drive
Rancho Cordova, CA
Open Saturday, March 19, 2016, 9:00am – 01:30pm

Picnic in Apple Hill-Bring a picnic and hit up Boa Vista. This year-round farmstand offers seasonal produce, bakery favorites, apple cider and more. Picnic tables are pletiful and there is space for tots to run around and have some fun. Take time to buy your weekly groceries and some car snacks for the way home like apple doughnuts and apple cider.

Boa Vista Orchards
2952 Carson Road
Placerville, CA
Open 8:00 am-5:30 pm daily

Folsom Farmer’s MarketThis outdoor market is held on Saturdays from 8:00 am-1:00 pm in Historic Folsom. More than 40 local vendors come out for this market that offers locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables, baked goods, fresh eggs and dairy items, live music and so much more! Covered free public parking is available.

Folsom Farmer’s Market
Folsom, CA

Exploring Apple Hill. The Wineries of Apple Country. (Camino, CA)

Exploring Apple Hill

If you have been following our travels this fall you know our household has been spending lots of time in Apple Hill in Northern California. Apple Hill is located between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe just north of Highway 50. The region is full of apple growers, over 50 of them to be exact. Besides apples the region also beckons visitors with seasonal tree farms, juicy summer berries and all types of local produce. What most people don’t realize is that this part of El Dorado County also offers some unique and award-winning wineries. The wineries of Apple Hill are often overlooked and we aren’t sure why. (more…)

Guest Post. Hither & Thither. 10 Farms to Get Closer to Agriculture.

Apple Hill Farm

Today I am featured over on Hither & Thither a blog written by a local mom, Ashley Muir Bruhn. Ashley asked me to write a local guide for her so I wrote a guide titled, Ten Farms to Get Closer to Agriculture in Apple Hill (Camino, CA).

I started reading Ashley’s writing this summer after she found me on my Instagram and I have had fun reading her lifestyle and travel blog since then. She features many of the same restaurants and getaways that are our favorites too.

Head over to her blog to access my guide. Apple season is wrapping up here in Northern California so it’s the perfect time to plan a trip. I always tell friends to try to visit Apple Hill midweek since weekend crowds make traffic and parking extremely difficult and the farms become so overrun with tourists that the experience is not ideal. (more…)

Best of Apple Hill 2015. Best Pie. Apple Pantry Farm (Camino, CA)

Apple Pie in Apple Hill

Apple Hill, the apple growing region just outside of Sacramento boasts over 50 farms growing local apples and offering visitors experiences of all types. Located just off Highway 50 on the way to South Lake Tahoe, Apple Hill is the perfect diversion for tourists and locals. Most apple farms in the area serve up homemade style apple pies during peak apple season. We asked around and tried our share of pies and found our favorite this apple season.

Apple Pantry Farm is in it’s 12th season and has been providing a quaint picturesque stop to guests to try their homemade style pies served up with creamy vanilla ice cream. The farm is located on Hidden Valley Road a country road off the beaten trail and tourists thin out here and the pace immediately slows down. During our visit on a Friday during peak season, tourists were arriving by busload at the more crowded farms and this one we had the whole place to ourselves for part of our visit. (more…)

What’s at Market. October.

Melon from 24Carrot Farm

This week’s shopping was a quick trip to Apple Hill where our current favorite organic farm, 24 Carrot Farm is located. We picked up everything we could to keep us going through the week. It seems like we are clinging to the last of the tomatoes, peppers and summer squash and starting to incorporate some winter squash into our dinners too. Since it’s 90 degrees this week here in Northern California it’s hard to get into too much fall baking just yet. What’s in season October. (more…)

Watch. History of Apples in El Dorado County. (Apple Hill, CA)

HIstory of Apples In El Dorado County

We spend so many weekends in El Dorado County’s gorgeous apple growing region of Apple Hill, CA. See how this region started with a video produced by El Dorado County Ag in the Classroom. We even saw some adorable cameos by my tots’ friends from the area which made this video even more endearing.

I learned that El Dorado County’s number one commodity is apples! Since this is our home it was fun to learn that a snack my tots eat daily contributes to the success of farmers in our area.

Best of Apple Hill 2015. Best Attraction. El Dorado Orchards (Camino, CA)

El Dorado Orchards Train

El Dorado Orchards has been a favorite attraction of our tots for three years now. The train ride is one of our annual stops and this year was no exception. We usually visit this farm on our way out of Apple Hill. It is a quick stop with lots of parking and a perfect last activity before heading home for naps. The train costs $3.50 and the ticket booth takes cash and credit. The ride takes about five minutes and makes a lazy loop around a scenic pond, through apple orchards and berries.

The farm offers visitors craft booths, food, apples, juice, baked goods and picnic tables. This year they featured Boa Vista apples, juices, dougnuts and bakery selections and caramel apples. Boa Vista apples are some of our favorite so we purchased juice and caramel apples this trip. (more…)

24Carrot Farm. (Apple Hill, CA)

24Carrot Farm Apple Hill

Since my Husband is overly obsessed with fall mornings spent in Apple Hill (Camino, CA) I decided to indulge him on his apple buying mission if he took a side adventure to see if we could find 24Carrot Farm on the way home.

I found this farm during a recent afternoon wasted on Facebook when I somehow came to their page. I couldn’t believe a new organic farm was open in our area and I hadn’t been there yet! I had to visit to see what this place was all about. (more…)

Best of Apple Hill 2015. Apples for Lunchboxes and Canning. Larsen Apple Barn (Camino, CA)

Apple Hill located in El Dorado County, just outside Sacramento, is our fall obsession. To be honest, we live so close, about 20 minutes away, we visit year-round only during fall we are even more frequent in our trips up Highway 50. Apple Hill is everything fall should be. Apple picking, hot apple cider, farm animals, pony rides, craft booths for early holiday shopping and people watching. You can find me throwing on a cozy plaid shirt and Uggs and heading up the mountain even during the hotest days of September. Why? Because it’s fall! Let’s get on with it already!

We head up almost weekly to do our fruit and vegetable shopping, so we decided to share our favorite farms with you. Follow along this series of posts, starting today, featuring our “Best Of Apple Hill” suggestions for this Apple Hill season.

A friend shared her family secret for finding the best apples for canning about five years ago and we have been going back year after year ever since. Larsen Apple Barn is the longest running family-owned farm in Apple Hill and has been running since 1860. It’s apple farm store is a picturesque corrogated metal barn filled with one of the widest arrays of apple varieties complete with apple tasting table.

For purposes of our “Best Of” review I’m keeping this one short and sweet. Larsen Apple Barn has the cheapest and best apples for canning that we have found. We not only use these apples for applesauce we buy our weekly lunchbox apples here because we can score a 40 lb box for only $16. These boxes are called their “seconds” and that just means they are smaller or have minor defects that make them less desirable than the full price apples sold here. We think they are perfect because they are the best size for our tots and we don’t waste any apples with half-eaten rejects and we don’t mind the defects at all.

Today the seconds boxes included Braeburn, Gala, Golden Delicious, Mutsu and Red Delicious as available varieties. As the season goes on sometimes these seconds boxes won’t be out in the sales area so be sure to ask a sales rep to grab you one from the back.

A tasting table is staffed by employees so visitors can try any of the varieties they are interested in purchasing. Also available for tasting are pears, grapes and peaches as available throughout the season.

Have we convinced you yet? If you are going to visit make sure you come Sunday-Friday, the farm is closed every Saturday and open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm with a musuem and bake shop also available to visitors. If you pack a lunch Larsen owns the park right across the street that has picnic tables and shady areas for kids to run around.

Larsen Apple Barn is open from now through the Sunday after Thanksgiving, closed Saturdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at 2461 Larsen Dr, Camino, CA 95709 and restrooms and parking are available.