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Celebrate Fall! Harvest Time is Best for Visiting Local Farms

hoes down festival

Stop! Just stop what you are doing, and put down your tools, be they gardening trowels or smart phones. It is time to take a break from the weeding, shoveling, organizing, filing, coding, and analyzing and get some fresh country air! Harvest time is here for farms from California to the New York Island. Late September and early October is the perfect time to visit farms in the San Francisco Bay Area and Philadelphia region to dance, play, learn, sip, and sup the rewards of the harvest.

gabriel farm sebastopol

The 23rd annual Hoes Down Festival (Oct 2 & 3rd) at Full Belly Farm is a great time to connect with your friendly farmers of the Capay Valley, CA (Yolo County). Full Belly Farm supplies many of the beautiful veggies in The FruitGuys west coast TakeHome and The Capay FarmShares cases. They provide environmental education and promote sustainability practices by providing camps and farm-stays for urban school children. Dru Rivers, one of the farm’s owners, says she started providing “Farm Ed” while raising her own children on the farm and hosting visits from their classrooms. “It really came out of my own love for kids, teaching, and wanting to share the farm. Sometimes it’s not enough to just grow vegetables.”

full belly farm

Full Belly Farm is Capay’s most seasoned party host: 2010 marks the 23rd annual Hoes Down Festival. The festival includes live music, fabulous food, and workshops on cow milking, herbs, sheep shearing, and tractoring (some in Spanish). Well-planned kids activities include the famous Peas & Chaos obstacle course, crafts, and a ride down a conveyor belt into a dunk tank. Visitors can even camp overnight in the almond orchard, swim in the creek, and enjoy a Sunday breakfast. But the most important part of the Hoe’s Down Festival is that all the proceeds go to charity. Full Belly Farm donates around $50,000 to local and national organizations such as the local 4H club, to Eco Farm to the California Alliance with Family Farmers. So, come on down. The FruitGuys will be there too. “The FruitGuys supports Hoes Down as part of our commitment to sustainable agriculture and community building. We work with a number of small farms in Capay Valley as well as other small farmers around the country who feel it is part of their mission to properly steward the land they live and work on.  We share these values and want to do what we can to help bring awareness and momentum to sustainable agriculture and a more sustainable environment,” says FruitGuys founder Chris Mittelstaedt.

farm trails sonoma

On September 26-27, Sonoma County offers its annual farm-touring event, Weekend Along the Farm Trails. You can stop by farms individually or get a car pass and map and meander through vineyards, dairies, and pumpkin patches. Farmers throw open their doors, presenting produce, crafts, and preserves. If you’d like to meet a llama or peek inside a beehive this is great tour. FruitGuys will be helping out at Torrey Olson’s Gabriel Farm in Sebastopol, CA. Torrey supplies our primo Asian pears. Stop by to see how Torrey grows an array of Asian pears and the secret to his pear-in-the-bottle trick.

The Harvest Fair at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds on October 1-3 includes a midway and livestock events. Family activities celebrate ranchers, farmers, and vintners. Don’t miss the Pack Llama demo, Pygmy Goat show, and Sheep Dog Trials.

Back East, don’t miss the Saturday, September 25th Run-a-Muck Event in Newtown Square, PA. Join The FruitGuys on an over hill and dale tromp to support the Willistown Conservation Trust.

If you prefer to bike the Pennsylvania countryside, the 2010 Bike Fresh Bike Local event, with rides of 25, 50, and 75 miles. The $40 day-of-event registration benefits PASA, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. Ride with FruitGuys own Bridget Meigs on what ride organizer Royer Smith describes as “The best and most beautiful ride ever. You’ll see bison and steers, horses and sheep, goats and chickens. You’ll pass fields that were plowed by a farmer and his team of work horses, and you might have to slow down for horse-drawn vehicles on the road.”

Whether you take your bike, boots, hybrid car, or horse and buggy, the autumnal equinox is our clue to get out there and enjoy what fall has to offer.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”  - Albert Camus

hike

- Heidi Lewis

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