Autumn Farm Tours
The fall harvest season is full of festivals, foliage, hayrides and fresh pumpkin pie! Even after the pumpkin patches are over, autumn is the ideal time to step outside and enjoy the fall festivities around the area. Here are just a few local farms and ranches to visit this season:
Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero. Watch how they move through the seasons with the scents of autumn and warmth and quiet of winter. Join the local guides on a behind-the-scenes tour of the farm. They will tell you about the goats and the history of the farm in the edible flower garden, before touring the milking parlor and loafing barn, with a peek into the dairy and a walk out into the pasture to meet the goats. Finish with a tasting session of the farmstead cheese upstairs in the hayloft. Or just drop in during open hours (Friday-Sunday 11am-4pm) without booking a tour.
Pie Ranch in Pescadero. Find seasonal offerings such as pies; heirloom wheat, and other fresh, organic produce at the Farm Stand. You can join a Farm Cooking Class that includes a brief farm tour and small harvest. The class will cover dough, filling, assembling and different techniques for cooking empanadas all peppered with history and anecdotes of the stuffed pastry. Class will end with a shared meal of the empanadas with a glass of locally made wine. Another activity on the farm and must-do at the ranch is the Work Day & Barn Dance where you can pitch in and lend a helping hand for a few hours, followed by a farm tour to peek at the historic Steele Ranch buildings, visits the goats, cows, chickens, and pigs and when possible, includes sampling from the fields. A packed house for a potluck dinner followed by music and dancing will round out your day on the ranch! This very popular dance is open to the community, reservations are requested.
Webb Ranch in Portola Valley. Open seven days a week, and located in the heart of Silicon Valley lies this beautiful oasis for horses and fresh produce. Take a fan favorite hayride, pick your organic pumpkin from the patch, play with the kids at the petting zoo and kick off the fall holidays with a bang on over 20 acres at farm. The farm also features riding instruction and events, scenic trails, horse riding programs to suit a range of abilities and interests, farm produce and seasonal foods. After the pumpkins disappear, Santa’s Village opens the day after Thanksgiving and open every day from 9:00am until 7:00pm through Christmas Eve December 24th.
Here are some other local farms that offer farm stands, farm tours, and agricultural experiences:
The Agricultural History Project Center & Museum in Watsonville. This local museum documents the agricultural history of Santa Cruz County. Head down on the 2nd Saturday on the Farm where visitors can participate in the regular activities of the Ag History Project plus others related to the day’s special focus. Some unique interactive educational activities include life-size wooden cows that help you learn how to milk a cow, a retrofitted John Deere tractor so that kids and anyone can learn to drive it and a tractor simulator that you can drive down a crop row.
Glaum Egg Ranch in Aptos. This small family-owned egg farm is hidden in the hills above Aptos and is 100% cage free. Buy some eggs from the egg vendor machine built into the side of the barn and get treated to the chicken show! Enter four one dollar bills into the machine and you are treated to a seasonally changing music box style puppet show at the window and a flat of 18 white eggs. You can also buy eggs and local food products inside their farmstand.
Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont. Ardenwood is a working farm and the daily activities change from season to season so no two visits will be exactly alike. Ardenwood Historic Farm is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, year-round (except some holidays). October brings some down home country fun with a Harvest Festival and a Haunted Railroad offers up a frightfully fun journey through the haunted forest.
Andy’s Orchard in Morgan Hill: This family-owned stonefruit farm has been growing fruit in the Santa Clara Valley for three generations. The farm runs a Country Store (open 10 am – 6 pm M-F and 10 am – 4 pm weekends) and runs tours on select dates. Check out the schedule for the annual Holiday Open House and enjoy free samples of delicious fresh and dried fruits, nuts, and an array of gourmet food specialty items (local & regional) such as cheeses, olive oils, caramels, and holiday panettone.
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*image credit Pie Ranch