The maps and updated websites suggest driving seasonal tours through olive ranches, vineyards, stone-fruit orchards, farm stands and farms. The Sacramento Delta region drive takes visitors along raised levees in a maze of waterways. Capay Valley boasts a long stretch of scenic beauty between two mountain ranges where pioneering organic farms hold yearly festivals. The North Yuba region, mountainous and seemingly remote, directs visitors from wineries to olive ranches and production facilities to a historic barn, while offering lakes and camping options.
Financed through a California Department of Food and Agriculture grant awarded to the UC Small Farm Program to enhance rural tourism and promote specialty crops, the three agritourism groups were given help creating maps, updating their websites, promoting an event and learning how to sustain their groups.
“Sometimes the best way to appreciate how lucky we are to live in California is to see and taste what our amazing farmers are growing,” Penny Leff, Small Farm Program agritourism coordinator says. “And it's a great way to see California,” she adds.
Though California produces nearly half of U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables, the public rarely gets to meet the farmers and view their operations. Discovering California through farms and off the usual destination track is an opportunity for short-distance day trips or weekend getaways. Events such as Open Farm Day in Capay Valley on October 5, August Passport Weekend in the Delta and May Tractor Day in North Yuba offer great food and family participation.
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The University of California Small Farm Program focuses on the challenges and opportunities of California's small-scale farm operators. The three new farm trail maps are part of a project funded by a California Department of Food and Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block grant, and managed by the UC Small Farm Program.