When it comes to getting to know our farmers, most of us do so at farmers markets and the occasional farm stand.
This weekend, there’s another way to get up close to those who feed us so well. Just pack up your car with a cooler and water, slip on sturdy shoes and head out for Weekend Along Farm Trails, taking place on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
With fall’s harvest at its peak, this weekend is one of the best times of the year to visit a working farm. More than 40 locations are participating, some on a single day, several both days. Some will have special activities, others will simply highlight what they do on a daily basis. All offer an opportunity to purchase directly from the farm and to speak with farmers and ranchers.
To participate, you need to register, which you can do at farmtrails.org. There is no charge, but by registering, you give the organization an idea of how many people to expect. Admission to nearly all farms is free, though a handful offer special workshops that have a small a charge. Many offer discounts to Farm Trails visitors so if you make purchases, be sure to mention why you are there. The Farm Trails website has a complete list of participating members. When you register, you will receive a map and details, which will also be posted on the site this Friday at noon.
A selection of highlights of the weekend include Happy Hens Farm in Petaluma, with its fabulous grass-fed meats, pastured eggs and more, including farmstead cheeses, local yarn and snacks in the barn store. This working ranch offers one of the best petting zoos around and there’s room for a picnic, too.
Also in Petaluma are Lala’s Urban Farmstead with fall produce and homemade jams, and Lavender Bee Farm, with a close-up look at both lavender farming and beekeeping.
McClelland’s Dairy in Two Rock Valley will offer their grass-fed butter, pastured eggs, organic pumpkins and several options for lunch.
Chica Bloom, located at First Light Farm in west Petaluma, will be hosting a floral design workshop on Saturday that includes an opportunity to harvest your own flowers.
In central Sonoma County, Tierra Vegetables will have its usual abundant harvest of vegetables, beans and grains, along with self-guided farm tours and threshing demonstrations.
If you love cider or are simply curious about this new industry, don’t miss Tilted Shed, where you’ll have a chance to taste several ciders, see a display of cider apples and purchase cur-rent releases. Darlene Hayes of Sebastopol will be the day’s special guest, with her new book, “Cider Cocktails.”
At Noci Sonoma in Dry Creek Valley, you’ll find 24 acres of permaculture gardens, greenhouses, natural rain pools, barns, sheep, ducks, chickens, guinea hogs, Pyrenees sheep dogs and a farm store.
Preston Farm and Winery, the jewel of Dry Creek Valley, has a farm store full of just-harvested organic produce and Lou Preston’s fabulous breads, along with pastured animals, orchards, vineyards and a cool little areas for a picnic.
At Oak Hill Farm in Sonoma Valley, there will be wreath-making workshops, live music, an unveiling of fall’s gourds and pumpkins and, of course, all manner of farm goodies in the Red Barn store. Matanzas Creek Winery will open its lavender barn for sales and offer special tastings, too.