you pick

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

 

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.

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

Farmsteads and Farms Open This Month. July.

Farms are opening quickly now! 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 July.
  3. We didn’t include produce stores, just traditional stands.
  4. 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

Pine ‘O Mine (You-Pick Blueberries)
Open Daily, Closed Mondays
2620 Carson Road
Placerville, CA
www.pineomine.com

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

Placer County

Delta Farm (Farmstand)
8315 Horseshoe Bar Road
Loomis, CA
no website

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

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

Impossible Acres Farm (You-Pick and Farmstead)
Open Wednesday-Sunday, 9:00 am-6:00 pm
26565 County Road 97D
Davis, CA
www.impossibleacres.com

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

Pacific Star Gardens (You-Pick Strawberries and Berries and Farmstand)
20872 County Rd 99
Woodland, CA 95695
Pacific Star Gardens Facebook Page

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.

Farmstands and Farms Open This Month. June

Farms are opening quickly now! 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 June.
  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

American River Cherry Company
2240 Dias Drive
Placerville CA
www.americanrivercherryco.com

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

Once in a Blue Moon Berries (You-Pick Blueberries)
1820 Arroyo Vista Way
El Dorado Hills, CA
www.onceinabluemoonberries.com

Pine ‘O Mine (You-Pick Blueberries)
Open Daily, Closed Mondays
2620 Carson Road
Placerville, CA
www.pineomine.com

Rainbow Orchards (You-Pick Blueberries)
Open Saturdays and Sundays
3010 Snows Road
Camino, CA
www.rainboworchards.net

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

Placer County

Delta Farm (Farmstand)
8315 Horseshoe Bar Road
Loomis, CA
no website

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

Impossible Acres Farm (You-Pick and Farmstead)
Open Wednesday-Sunday, 9:00 am-6:00 pm
26565 County Road 97D
Davis, CA
www.impossibleacres.com

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

Pacific Star Gardens (You-Pick Strawberries and Berries and Farmstand)
20872 County Rd 99
Woodland, CA 95695
Pacific Star Gardens Facebook Page

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.

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

When we first moved to the foothills four years ago we saw signs around town for a you-pick organic blueberry farm in El Dorado Hills. We had to visit. We gathered some friends and headed for Once in a Blue Moon Berries. We had two tots under one at the time and two that were just two years old. When we arrived we were immediately transported into a quaint throwback to a different time. A place where neighbors gather to chat and work the land together. The welcoming nature of this farm beckons local residents and visitors alike.

That first year, we pushed Bob joggers up and down the rocky paths in between blueberry bushes and collected as many blueberries as we could. While our two year-olds ate more than their combined weight in blueberries. We hadn’t picked blueberries before so just seeing the plants was a wondrous new experience and we all were enthralled immediately.

One of my favorite aspects of this farm is that the owners, Mike and Janet Suttles, work the you-pick farmstand themselves along with their extended family. The owners are known to follow along with pickers, encouraging them to eat berries and experience different varieties. We learned about the different berries and terroir and how different variables affect berry production and taste. We learned about the growing season and the history of the property and the family who has turned their home into a successful organic farm.

Sand pail buckets provided by the farm cost $20 when full. The farm is on a five acre parcel of land off Green Valley Rd. It is easily found following the signs that direct visitors from main roads. The drive is just down a short dirt road and a quick turn in front of the farm provides dirt lot parking for cars. There are no restroom facilities. There is a shaded area with a table where families can relax and rehydrate after picking.

The blueberry season here is only 3-4 weeks long so now that the berries are ready for picking planning a trip should be a priority. With recent weather changes the season is later than usual and owners don’t know from year to year just how the season is going to go. My oldest tot visited yesterday and got the fattest juiciest berries I have seen so it’s definitely blueberry season in El Dorado Hills.

Once in a Blue Moon Berries is located at 1820 Arroyo Vista Way in El Dorado Hills. The farm is open every other day for now from 9 am to 3 pm and by special appointment. For more information call (916) 600-8962 or visit onceinabluemoonberries.com

Strawberry Picking Season. In March. (Yolo County, CA and El Dorado County, CA)

Strawberry season usually starts in April around the Sacramento region.  Not this year!  Strawberry farms are open and farmer’s markets are already bursting with my favorite berries!  It took us by surprise as we drove by our local strawberry farm this weekend and saw families out amongst the rows of spring plants excitedly picking.

Growing up in Marin County we had a small strawberry patch in our backyard.  I would spend hours staring at our little garden waiting for green strawberries to turn to red and usually I would pick them mid-ripening because the anticipation was too much for me to handle.  There is nothing like homegrown strawberries.  Nothing.  You know how grocery store strawberries are thick skinned and semi sweet?  Homegrown strawberries, because they don’t have to be packaged and shipped around are picked at the peak of ripeness (unless you are five and can’t wait a moment longer) and are different varieties with thinner skin and juicier fruit.  A strawberry picked right out of the garden is oozing with sugary sweetness and is so tender it practically melts in your mouth.  The only way to get a berry like this, without growing your own, is to visit a local strawberry farm.  Just do it.  Trust me.

There are two strawberry farms that my family likes to visit each year.  One is in Yolo County near Davis and one is in El Dorado County in El Dorado Hills close to our home.  In between these two farms are approximately 95 strawberry stands scattered around the Sacramento metropolitan area.

My absolute favorite strawberry farm is Pacific Star Gardens near Davis in Woodland.  I first heard about Pacific Star Gardens when I worked at UC Davis and some of my students talked about it.  Only in Davis would college students spend their weekend strawberry picking and then come back to school on Monday and tell their boss about their adventures.  I love Davis.  Pacific Star Gardens is located on a sleepy county road in between Davis and Woodland.  It is sometimes manned and sometimes unmanned so it’s cash only.  I think this is the first farm I ever visited that had a money box and used the honor system.  I had just moved to Davis and the concept of having a money box right out in the open was so mind blowing I could hardly contain my excitement and all faith was again restored that humanity wasn’t deteriorating as quickly as I feared.  Driving to the farm takes quick reflexes and patience.  The farm comes up quickly and just as quickly disappears so keep a watch out for signs and drive carefully.  Pulling off the road there is a small dirt parking area and a covered farm stand that also features eggs, berries and vegetables as they become available.  Strawberries are $3/lb. or $15 a bucket (provided by the farm) and are certified organic.  Restrooms are not available.  The farm is tot friendly and hoards of families can be found on peak days and times so try to visit during the cooler morning hours to get prime first pick.

The closest strawberry farm to my home is El Dorado Natural Farms.  A recent neighbor that just started offering you pick strawberries along with other offerings last year.  I loved seeing this farm start operations because they are less than five minutes from my house and have easy on and off access from Highway 50.  They are a sustainable farm and use natural farming practices in all they do.  They have events throughout the year and are becoming one of the most family-friendly places in El Dorado Hills for friends to gather during the growing season.  Because this farm is located right off the Bass Lake Rd. exit on Highway 50 it’s the perfect stop off going to or from South Lake Tahoe or Apple Hill.  Strawberries are $3/basket for you pick and there is also a farm stand if you don’t have time to pick yourself.  The farm is only open weekends for now and as production ramps up, open daily.  The owners and employees are friendly and informative and the facility makes it easy to pick strawberries at the only fruit, vegetable and chicken farm on the Western Slope of El Dorado County.

El Dorado Natural Farm
Picking open 10:00 am-4:00 pm, weekends
1941 Old Bass Lake Rd.
El Dorado Hills, CA
www.edhfarms.com

Pacific Star Gardens
Open 8:30 am to 7:00 pm, daily
20872 County Road 99
Woodland, CA
Pacific Star Gardens Facebook Page

Do you have a favorite you pick strawberry farm?  Tell us about it!  We would love to feature it in a later post.