Most people who spend their days thinking about irrigation pipes don’t also ponder the fun to be had from seeing how quickly someone might jiggle a cherry tomato from one end of the 25-foot tubes to the other.
But Evan Wiig isn’t your everyday farmer type. And on Saturday afternoon, the 31-year-old could be found on a field at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds explaining the rules of just such a game to a crowd of kids eager to test their abilities. The competitors, gathered in teams of threes and fours, were among the hundreds of people who flocked to Petaluma to participate in this year’s Agrarian Games, formerly known as the Farmer Olympics.
The event serves as a fundraiser for Wiig’s Sonoma County-based nonprofit, the Farmers Guild, and for the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, which advocate for sustainable food and farming systems across California.
But it’s also an excuse to let the mind wander beyond the practical affairs of farming. Case in point: those irrigation pipes.
“I was thinking, how do we use these? How do we bring irrigation into the Agrarian Games?” Wiig said, moments after about a dozen kids and kids-at-heart competed in the tomato tumbling contest called the “pipe roll.”
It was one of at least 10 competitions intended to connect people who love food with the people who grow it.
“The games are fun and they’re silly, but they’re also educational,” he said. “There’s an opportunity to learn about soil health, an opportunity to learn about your local farmers and where to find them.”
Asa Lara, 5, of San Francisco, was on a winning team in the tomato contest. In all, it took his crew three attempts to get the teeny fruit through the course of pipes without dropping.
The Lara family came from the city to the Agrarian Games to feed Asa’s love for all things country, said his dad, Albert Lara.
By 3:30 p.m., Asa had competed in the potato sack race, made his own butter courtesy of Strauss Family Creamery, competed in the grape toss, won the pipe roll, power-lifted dumbbells outfitted with giant squash weights, successfully bobbed for apples and spit a watermelon seed as far as he could.
Wiig, who mounted a less than stellar showing in the seed spitting contest — he went 8 feet, while the winner topped 31 feet — proclaimed the day a success. The event is in its fourth year, but 2017 is only the second time its been open to the public. The occasion began as a summertime barbecue for Sonoma County farm folks.
“This is really our opportunity to … get folks talking about the issues that are most important to our organization: supporting your local farmer, learning about soil health, climate-smart farming..”