By Lisa Murray, Pleasants Valley Agriculture Association
Last year, Pleasants Valley Agriculture Association hosted their first-ever Open Farm Day, held at four Vacaville farms. For many in the Vacaville area, it was an introduction to local farms and to the history of Pleasants Valley.
This year, PVAA will host Open Farm Days, now held over two days, Saturday and Sunday, July 27-28, from 9 am- 3 pm at seven Vacaville farm locations. At each location, there will be even more Vacaville farmers present to introduce themselves to the public. The date was moved back from last year to coordinate with Visit Vacaville’s Farm-To-Table Dinner happening on July 27 on Main Street in downtown Vacaville. Many of the PVAA farmers’ goods will be included in the dinner. So visitors can visit the farm, meet the farmer, and then attend the farm dinner and taste the farm-fresh goodness from the farm they just visited! Because the food spends less time in transit, it’s fresher, healthier and just tastes better. Local food encourages diversification of local agriculture, which reduces the reliance on single crops grown on a wide area, which depletes the soil of nutrients — no nutrients in soil means no nutrients in our food.
“We wanted our first Open Farm Day to be a light introduction with only a few locations as to not overwhelm visitors. This year we are excited to include more of the PVAA farm locations to show just how diverse the farms and agriculture businesses are in Vacaville’s rural areas.” – Rose Loveall, owner of Morningsun Herb Farm and one of the founding members of PVAA
Open Farm Days is an opportunity for small, Solano County farm owners in Vacaville to open their doors to the public and show what they do. Participating farms offer free talks, tours and demos, games for kids, farm animals to meet, and space to picnic with the family. Visitors get a chance to learn from and support these different farms.
From 11 am-3 pm, wine tasting from two Vacaville wineries will be a new addition this year. For those 21 and over, they will have two locations to visit. At La Borgata Winery & Distillery, on Pleasants Valley Road, wine and liqueur (grappa, limoncello) tastings will be available. At Soul Food Farm, also on Pleasants Valley Road, visitors will be able to taste Sky Ranch’s wine. Sky Ranch is in Mix Canyon, but it is currently not open to the public.
Visitors will also be able to shop for local produce and other goods, including everything from organic fruit and vegetables and dried lavender to wine, grappa, olive oil and honey. Buying local boosts the local economy. Less travel from a far away farm to the store to us means we end up using less fuel and generating fewer greenhouse gases. Buying local food preserves open space by helping farmers survive and thrive, keeping land from being developed into urban sprawl. And finally, buying local creates more vibrant communities by connecting people with farmers and local food sources.
“Open Farm Days is a great time to meet local farmers and experience life on the farm.” – Alexis Koefoed, owner of Soul Food Farm
Pleasants Valley Agriculture Association is a group of farmers and agriculture and ancillary business owners located in the rural areas of Vacaville, with a collective interest in agriculture tourism, preserving agriculture land and cross-promoting with local businesses in Solano County.
The Open Farm Days locations are Joyful Ranch, Soul Food Farm, Morningsun Herb Farm and Be Love Farm, with the new locations this year at Brazelton Ranch, La Borgata Winery & Distillery, and Menagerie Hill Ranch.
As the schedule is still being developed, it is recommended to visit VacavilleFarmers.com to view and download an event schedule and map.
More Details on Open Farm Days
- Joyful Ranch, the 19th century farm that is the original “Pleasants” family farm. There will only be two tours offered each day of this historic place (10 am and 11 am) and will be given by a “Pleasants” family descendent herself, Ethel Hoskins. Other PVAA farms that will be at the Joyful Ranch location include Girl on the Hill offering their lavender products for sale, as well as a lavender distillation demo, and Sola Bees offering honey tastings and a free talk about honey. Hoskins’ grandfather, William Pleasants’ book, ‘Twice Across the Plains – 1849, 1856’ will also be available to purchase, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the Joyful Ranch nonprofit organization.
- A tour of the farm, vendors and lots of room to picnic is what awaits visitors at Soul Food Farm. Karen Ford of Clay’s Bees will be offering tastings and a free talk on the benefits of local honey. Lockewood Acres will be on-site selling organic produce, farm-fresh eggs, jellies and vinegar. Sky Ranch will be offering wine and olive oil tastings as a fundraiser for Sustainable Solano. Soul Food Farm will be selling dried lavender, olive oil and eggs.
- Having just celebrated their 24th anniversary this past May, Morningsun Herb Farm is a midsized plant nursery with a diverse selection of plants, herbs and garden gifts. There will be free talks and the schedule will be posted when it becomes available. Children will be able to get their pictures taken with the Morningsun Herb Farm donkeys.
- Be Love Farm, a small, family-owned and operated farm focusing on regenerative farming techniques, is on Bucktown Lane. Be Love Farm opened their Farm Store in early July 2018. The Farm Store is a place where visitors can shop for organic fruit and veggies, wine, olive oil, sunflower sprouts, bread and so much more. Back by popular demand, Be Love Farm will be offering their “Regenerative Farm Tours” with times TBD.
The new farm locations this year include:
- Brazelton Ranch will be open this year to offer talks and tastings. Details are still being developed.
- La Borgata Winery & Distillery will be open this year offering wine tastings, grappa and limoncello tastings for those over 21 years of age, and a plein air (outdoor landscape) painting demonstration. There will be games for kids and families and an area to picnic. Other Vacaville farms/ancillary businesses that will be present include 36 Oaks Spa (a country destination spa), and Jasmine Westbrook will have a Great Pyrenees dog and young lambs for kids to pet and to learn about sheep and livestock guardian dogs. Details are still being developed.
• Menagerie Hill Ranch is an alpaca farm in English Hills. Get up close and personal with the cute and cuddly alpacas, purchase alpaca fiber and other gifts in their gift shop. Details are still being developed.
PVAA organizers are asking everyone posting about the event on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to include the hashtag #pvaafarmdays2019
Lisa Murray is a filmmaker and the owner of the SkyGirl SoMe Marketing Agency in Vacaville. She is also the founder and festival director of the Ag & Art Film Festival premiering this year in Vacaville.