Craving a delicious excuse to get out of the city and back to the land? Pick perfectly ripe strawberries, pet baby goats, or shuck freshly harvested oysters by the bay, while meeting the people behind your food on a weekend farm adventure.
With California’s heartland in the Bay Area’s backyard, we’re blessed with a bounty of agricultural experiences just a short drive away, from u-picks to farm campouts and harvest festivals. Agritourism provides a win-win for urban and rural communities, offering educational and recreational fun for farm-curious city dwellers, while bringing valuable income to family farmers.
We’ve collected some upcoming farm events to fill your weekends with dirt-under-the-fingernails delight this summer and fall. Many require advance reservations, so be sure to click the links for details.
Achadinha Cheese Company, Petaluma
Tour the dairy and meet (and perhaps even pet!) goats up close on an Achadinha Cheese Company ranch tour. The Pacheco family also offers hands-on classes where cheese lovers can tour the cheese-making facilities, taste a variety of cheeses, and have DIY fun with curds.
Take a drive down the coast and pick your fill of ripe, organic strawberries at Blue House Farm. A member of CUESA’s Mission Community Market, Blue House Farm is a certified organic farm nestled on three sides by rolling hills, redwood forests, a natural year-round creek, coastal prairie, and nearby wild ocean beaches. They offer a strawberry u-pick on weekends in the summer and a pumpkin patch in the fall.
Capay Organic (aka Farm Fresh to You) welcomes thousands of visitors each year through its tours, dinners, and festivals. Events like their annual Capay Tomato Festival offer something for everyone, with tasting, harvesting, farm animal petting, tractor tram rides, live music, crafts for kids, and optional overnight camping in the fruit orchard.
One for the kids: A farm with an educational mission, Devil’s Gulch Ranch partners with the YMCA to offer summer camps for different age groups. Young campers connect with nature through games, traditional skills and crafts, animal care, gardening, and other outdoor activities.
For a meditative retreat from the city, visit Green Gulch Farm, a branch of the San Francisco Zen Center. Situated off of Highway 1 and just a short jaunt from Muir Beach, the farm’s grounds are open to visitors throughout the week and make for a tranquil stop during a full day of hiking around Marin’s many trails. On Sunday morning, Green Dragon Temple is open for a public program of Zen meditation instruction, a lecture, and a public lunch (by donation). Green Gulch also offers garden classes and volunteer opportunities on the farm.
Hog Island Oyster Company has perfected sustainable aquaculture techniques to produce some of the best local oysters and clams you can find. Learn all about how they do it in the unique ecosystem of Tomales Bay with a tour of the farm. Separately, you can book a picnic table to shuck and grill your own oysters while basking in the sun by the Bay–but dates book up far out in advance, so plan ahead.
First-generation farmers Kenny and Molly Baker host dinners several times a year at their homestead Lonely Mountain Farm, just north of Watsonville. Their next one is a five-course summer feast prepared by chef David Kurtz of San Francisco’s Homage, using organic produce freshly harvested from the fields. While you’re there, keep your eyes peeled for frolicking Nigerian dwarf goats!
A short drive north of San Francisco, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company hosts regular farm tours, cheese tastings, dinners, cooking classes, and other events at The Fork, their culinary and education center. Events sell out quickly, so sign up for their newsletter to be in the know.
Fourth-generation cattle ranch Stemple Creek Ranch opens its doors several times a year to host family-friendly tours and BBQs. Check out the beautiful scenery in West Marin while learning about pasture-based ranching and enjoying burgers made from the ranch’s grass-fed beef.
Meet the milking heifers and learn all about Marin’s history in dairy farming, organic agriculture, and environmental conservation while hiking around Straus Home Ranch (the farm behind Straus Family Creamery) in Marshall, with scenic views of Tomales Bay. Tours are led by the Straus family themselves, who are pioneers in the organic dairy movement. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy some locally made cheeses.
Just in time for Halloween, Swank Farms’ popular “Haunted Terror in the Corn” experience gets a makeover as it moves to a new site in Hollister. Check out the Maniac Maze (an immersive corn field experience, complete with a storyline and hidden surprises) along with other fun for the whole family, including a cow train, a giant jumping pillow, corn cannons, and an ugly pumpkin sling shot.
Food Justice Certified organic trailblazer Swanton Berry Farm offers a strawberry u-pick at their two locations off Highway 1 throughout the summer. Be sure to stop by their coastal farm stand in Davenport for hot soup, fresh berry pies, strawberry lemonade, and a tasting of their berry jams.
Even if you missed them at CUESA’s Goat Festival, you can see the adorable goats of Toluma Farms up close on their home turf. The farm’s monthly tours include a visit to the milking parlor and the goat barn, a hike up to the pastures to learn about organic pasture management, and peek into the creamery—with cheese tasting, of course.
Kicking off the apple harvest, the Gravenstein Apple Fair celebrates Sonoma County’s rich history in apple farming by paying tribute to one of the season’s earliest—and the region’s most iconic—varieties. Expect cooking demos, an apple pie contest, apple cider, live music, pony rides, and more. This year, the Fair is welcoming the Agrarian Games, presented by the Farmers Guild and CAFF, which includes fun farmy activities like a hay bale toss, wheelbarrow races, and an ugly produce beauty pageant. You need not be a farmer to play!
Filled with workshops, cooking demos, and exhibits, this three-day expo is a mecca for home gardeners, organic farmers, and eaters of all ages. Where else can you marvel at thousands of varieties of fruits and vegetables, hear from internationally known food activists, and take a selfie in front a 12-foot tower of heirloom winter squash?