- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
What's life like on the farm?
If you're looking for something to do on Saturday, Aug. 4, the Pleasants Valley Agriculture Association (PVAA) of Vacaville is hosting its first-ever Open Farm Day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The event, free admission and open to the public, is an opportunity for small farm owners of Solano County in Vacaville to showcase what they do. Visitors also will be able to shop for local produce and other goods, including everything from summer fruit and dried lavender to wine, olive oil and honey.
PVAA is a newly formed collective of farmers, agriculture and ancillary business owners located in the rural areas of Vacaville. All have a collective interest in agriculture tourism, preserving agriculture land, and cross-promoting with local businesses in Solano County.
Four farms will be open: Joyful Ranch, Soul Food Farm, Morningsun Herb Farm, and Be Love Farm.
“Open Farm Day is a great time to meet local farmers and experience life on the farm,” said Alexis Koefoed, owner of Soul Food Farm.The Joyful Ranch, a 19th century farm, is the original Pleasants family farm. Two tours, offered by Pleasants family descendent Ethel Hoskins, are scheduled: one at 10 and one at 11. Hoskins' grandfather, William Pleasants' book, Twice Across the Plains – 1849, 1856, will be available for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the Joyful Ranch non-profit organization.
Other PVAA farms that will be at the Joyful Ranch location on Saturday include
- La Borgata Winery, offering wine tastings and a plein air (outdoor) painting demonstration
- Girl on the Hill, offering lavender products for sale, as well as a free talk about lavender distillation
- Sola Bees, hosting honey tastings and a free talk about honey.
Live music and a picnic area will await visitors at Soul Food Farm. The owner, Alexis Koefoed will be offering free, 30-minute talks on chicken care. Karen Ford of Clay's Bees will discuss the benefits of local honey. Lockewood Acres also be on site. Dried lavender, olive oil, honey and produce will be available to purchase.
Morningsun Herb Farm, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in May, is a mid- sized plant nursery with a diverse selection of plants, herbs and garden gifts. Will Brazelton from Brazelton Ranch (another PVAA farm), will discuss peach tree care. Visitors also will be able to get their photos taken with the Morningsun Herb Farm donkeys from 1 to 3 p.m.
Be Love Farm is the only Open Farm Day farm not located on Pleasants Valley Road; the small, family-owned and operated farm focusing on regenerative farming techniques, is on Bucktown Lane. They will be offering “Regenerative Farm Tours” at 10 a.m. noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Be Love Farm just opened its farm store in early July. Visitors can shop for organic fruit and veggies, wine, olive oil, sunflower sprouts, and more.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Irish novelist Margaret Wolfe Hungerford was right.
In Molly Bawn, published in 1878, Hungerford wrote "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," meaning that our perception of beauty is subjective.
Beauty is also in the eye of the bee-holder, that is, a predator that "holds" bees.
We recently spotted a crabronid wasp (genus Philanthus) foraging on a pineapple sea lily (Eryngium horridum).
This solitary, digger wasp is better known by its common name, beewolf. That's because it preys on bees, including honey bees. The wasp stings the bee with its powerful venom, paralyzing it. Then it flies off with the bee (alive) to its underground nests where it provisions its cell burrows for its young.
"They are notable in stinging their prey in a membranous location on the ventral surface where the venom quickly paralyzes major voluntary muscles, yet does not kill the prey," according to Wikipedia. "The prey may attempt to sting in return, but it is always grabbed in such a way that only well-armored portions of the beewolf's body are presented. The beewolf carries the prey back to a tunnel, but usually only stores it temporarily, until it is later used to provision a cell burrow, where an egg is laid."
As we watched the beewolves (as identified by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at the University of California Davis) we also saw other critters foraging on the pineapple sea lily: honey bees and assorted mordellid beetles.
Take a look the beewolf. Note the bold, black stripes on the abdomen; the brilliant yellow on the head and thorax; and those sea-green eyes.
It's a predator, but predators, like prey, can be strikingly beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the bee-holder.