El Dorado County

Roberts Christmas Tree Farm (Pollock Pines, CA)

Roberts Tree Farms

It’s been a while since we got a real tree around here. I don’t like to admit this. We have been using the same fakie tree we bought for $12.99 on sale two days before Christmas the first year we lived together back in our first house in Davis, CA. Since then, every year we talk about going up to the mountains to cut down a tree. Then every year as we pull out our boxes and boxes of decorations we see the tree we bought, that first year and our emotions take over and we carefully assemble it again and promise that this is the last year we use it. That we have to move on from our tattered dust covered version of Christmas past.

This year we spent Thanksgiving in San Diego and when we got home I promised my tots we would head out to get a tree the first free day we had. On Friday, Benjamin came home and begged me to put up our old tree. I hesitate. I resisted then I totally caved and decided to set it up in our family room, reserving our formal living room for the tree we were going to cut down this year. (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…)

Harris Tree Farm (Pollock Pines, CA)

Blackberry season is here in the Bay Area and Sacramento. I have been on the search for a farm to go blackberry picking since we moved to the area years ago. Following a lead from a local tourism professional I called the owners of Harris Tree Farm. We ventured up to the farm this weekend and picked over two pounds of sustainably farmed blackberries in the quietest farm we have ever been.

If you aren’t familiar with Pollock Pines, it’s just up Highway 50 after Apple Hill on the way to South Lake Tahoe. The farm is only a quick detour about a five minute drive from the exit. It’s a quaint foothills town with towering trees and apple orchards as far as you can see. Look for the signs for Harris Tree Farm and turn into the driveway. There is gravel lot parking and the farm is usually not too crowded this time of the year. Once out of the car make your way to the barn with the large apple on the door and once inside you get instructions and equipment for berry picking. The family that owns and operates this farm couldn’t be any nicer or more full of information. Ask questions. They are area experts and taught us so much about their farm and the area.

I chatted with one of the owners of the farm that told me blackberry season is just starting in this part of the state and should run through September and maybe longer depending on conditions. Blackberries at Harris Tree Farm are farmed sustainably. This means the owners only use organic fertilizer and use sustainable growing practices.

When we visited the farm around lunch time on a Saturday we were the only guests. Unlike some of the more touristy farms this one retains it’s family friendly approach and we were able to just relax and run free since no one else was around. The landscape is so impressive the place instantly transports visitors to a different time. The blackberry growing area is surrounded by trees and rustic buildings that make for a real farm experience.

Blackberry picking is open Friday-Sunday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm through the growing season. School groups and field trips can easily be arranged for other days by calling the farm main office. Individuals and groups are encouraged to bring picnic lunches and lunch tables are available under the apple trees. Homemade baked pies are also available for purchase. Bring cash.

Harris Tree Farm is located at 2640 Blair Road Pollock Pines, CA 95726

Farmstands and Farms Open This Month. May.

This month farmstands and farms are slowly opening around our area. Here is a list of open farmstands and farms this month in the Sacramento and surrounding areas. We are going to be adding more as they open so keep checking back to see the latest.

  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 farmstands and farms that are open for business in May.
  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

South Fork Farm (Farmstead)
941 Cold Springs Rd.
Placerville, CA
www.southforkorganic.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

Soil Born Farms
Open Saturdays 8:00 am-12:00 pm
3000 Hurley Way
Sacramento, CA
www.soilborn.org

The Farmer’s wife
5701 Winding Way
Carmichael, CA
No Website

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

All Counties in the Sacramento Surrounding Areas

Strawberry Stands All Counties (Farmstands)

A Google Map was created to find strawberry stands throughout the Sacramento region and surrounding areas. I found the stand in our neighborhood. Can you find yours?

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.

South Fork Farm. (Placerville, CA)

Our favorite farm stand just reopened today for the season. Not like we have been stalking their Facebook page for weeks or anything. South Fork Farm is the most amazing organic farm stand off a windy country road in Placerville. If you haven’t been to this farm before. Read on. If you have. You already know.

I found South Fork Farm searching for a local CSA two years ago. Their website was intriguing and we set out for a visit. We were hooked instantly. The farm is about a 20 minute drive from our house in El Dorado Hills and it’s the most gorgeous drive through the country roads of El Dorado County. It’s hidden above the hills that frame the American River and is just outside of Coloma and sits close to the wineries that line this region. From Hwy. 50 in Placerville it’s about a 10-15 drive and completely worth the trip.

The farmstand is open this time of the year on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am-4:00 pm. Later in the summer they occasionally open on Fridays too. Today the farm had radishes, kale, carrots, beets and chard in bins and salad mix and local goat cheese in the refrigerator. When we arrived today the farm was out of bread. The bread. My Husband and I talk about this bread daily. As often as we can. It’s one of the main reasons going gluten free is out of the question. This bread. Is so addictively perfect you won’t be able to quit thinking about it. Since the farm is only open during spring and summer months we have been deprived of this bread for far too long. We arrived today. Too late. The bread was gone. This bread is crunchy and charred on the bottom because it is wood fired in the outdoor oven just outside the farm stand. We have tried every variety and none can be singled out as our favorite. Because we are addicted to them all. I’m sitting here writing this thinking how I can get out of the house early enough to get our bread tomorrow. Here is what the farm says about their bread operation.

Our breads are handmade using traditional methods to ensure optimal nutrition and taste. We use no commercial yeast, instead our breads are leavened with a natural sourdough starter to allow for a long fermentation, resulting in a more digestible and flavorful loaf. We bake in a wood-fired brick oven that we built ourselves in the Spring of 2013. All of our flours are organic and our breads feature locally grown and seasonal ingredients, most of which come from our farm. We grow heirloom grains and are in the process of setting up our own on-site stone mill.

The farm has a picnic table for gathering together and some room to walk around the gravel driveway and look at the expanse of fields and farming that goes on. There is plenty of parking and is usally quiet with one or two other cars or visitors.

The fruit and vegetables we buy at this farm are unlike anywhere else we have been and my favorite part is the farm is unmanned. It’s run like a traditional farmstand with the honor system. Visitors figure out their shopping total and put their money in a money box. I mean. This is what organic farming should be all about right? Communities sustaining each other. Trusting each other. Living in a way that supports the individuals and the community as a whole? It’s perfection.

If you haven’t been convinced yet I don’t know what else to say. Except that South Fork Farm is worth the trip from anywhere around the Sacramento area. Our tots call this place the farm and they could stay for much longer than we let them. They have inspected every part of this place. Every flower. Every rock that leans into the fence overlooking the fields. Inspected every bit of farmining equiptment visible from the parking lot and every inch of the stand itself.

Now I need to get going so I can plan out our morning so as to ensure our stake on some of that bread. The farm opens at 10:00 am. See you there.

South Fork Farm is located at 941 Cold Springs Rd., Placerville and their website is www.southforkorganic.com

Strawberry Stands. (Sacramento County, CA and Surrounding Areas)

When I first moved to Sacramento almost ten years ago one of my favorite sights was the adorable strawberry stands that seemed to be around every turn.  The rustic white paint.  Red strawberries adorning the sides of the old fashioned stands.  It was one of my favorite parts of this time of year.


After further investigation I found that there is a strawberry stand in almost every part of Sacramento within a ten-mile drive.  There are over 90 stands total.  The stands are family owned and set up so that locals can purchase their strawberries right from the farmer.

The idea of the strawberry stand is pretty much my urban farming philosophy all bundled up in a cute package.  Having a small urban farm that’s only purpose is to provide just picked produce for their neighborhood.  The stands are set up alongside the land where the strawberries are farmed.  There are picked at the peak of ripeness and then sold right there by stand owners and family.  Owners get to know their neighbors and farmers and residents work and live together in perfect harmony.

I wanted to know more about these small-scale local strawberry farmers so I researched further.  I found out that about five years ago UC Berkeley and UC Davis Cooperative Extension and a grant from the USDA National Research Initiative set out to tell the story of the strawberry farmers in Sacramento.

Most of the 95 strawberry farm stands in and around the Sacramento region are owned and operated by Mien and Hmong refugees from Laos, a small country in Southeast Asia that neighbors Vietnam.
When the U.S. left Southeast Asia in 1975, hundreds of thousands of Hmong and Mien fled their homeland to avoid persecution. Over 120,000 were eventually resettled in the U.S. The population today has expanded to an estimated 300,000, with nearly 35,000 residing in the Sacramento area alone.  Most of the refugees were farmers in Laos. In an effort to rebuild their lives, many turned to farming in the U.S. Most growers lease small plots of land and grow several varieties of strawberries.

The scientists working on the grant identified the local growers and expanded their businesses.  They found that the average strawberry stand only makes about $15,000 a year in a perfect growing year.  They tried to increase the stand’s revenue by forging relationships with local school districts, restaurants and low-income community grocery stores.  This not only provided additional revenue streams for farmers, it provided farm-to-fork options for children to learn that their food could come from their own communities.  The local fruit was offered to students in five regional school districts: Sacramento City Unified, Yuba City Unified, Buckeye Unified and Rescue Unified in El Dorado County and Roseville City Unified.
 I for one am so happy to have these hard-working strawberry farmers as part of our communities.  Knowing more about their challenging history and work ethic makes me even more proud to see these stands in our neighborhood.  Want to know where you can buy strawberries near you?  A Google Map was created to find strawberry stands throughout the Sacramento region and surrounding areas.  I found the stand in our neighborhood.  Can you find yours?

Get to know your local strawberry stand owners.  Purchase ripe strawberries the way they are intended to be enjoyed.  Talk to the families that run these stands and find out more about them.  If each of us can show our children what a valuable service these families provide, we are ensuring the successful future of urban farming in our communities.  Without our support, urban farmers can’t survive.

We chatted with the stand owner on Grant Line Rd. in Elk Grove today and learned about his business and more about the variety of Chandler strawberries that he uses.  Local farmers can teach us all something that we didn’t know about the food we eat.

Tell us the story of your neighborhood strawberry stand.  We would love to hear it!



The stands featured in this post are the stands on Grant Line Rd. in Elk Grove and the stand on Green Valley in El Dorado Hills.  The stands are opening around our area now and should all be fully open within the next month.  The Google map has phone numbers for most stands if you want to make sure your local stand is open.

Open Farmstands. March.


March isn’t the best month for farm visits, except there are some awesome farmstands open.  Here is a  list of open farmstands for this month in the Sacramento and surrounding areas.

  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.