Archive for the ‘FARM VISITS’ Category

Hey Locavores!  It’s that time of year again, when the wonderful folks at Riverdance Farms, host their annual “Pick and Gather”, it’s always a wonderful time rain or shine!

We’ll see you there with our bee~luscious lemonade!  Find the up to date info on facebook @ Hey Honey! Artisanals & Riverdance Farms Pick & Gather!


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Lorina’s Edible Garden

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First Day of Spring Open House News Letter
March 20,2009 12-5pm

Come check out what we are growing in our little greenhouse!
We have a selection of veggies and herbs ready to take home, more will be ready as the weeks go on.

You will find Lorina cleaning up the gardens still getting ready to plant. She would love to visit with you and help you with any garden questions that you might have.

Lorina will do guest speaking for clubs, classes or anyone interested in gardening with herbs.

We also welcome field trips at the farm for all ages. Gardening activities and visiting with the farm animals are a treat at the farm!

Come on out any day after March 20 by appointment.
For more info call (209)838-1457

Lorina’s Edible Garden

17397 Enterprise rd
Escalon ca 95320

Take hwy 120 east of Escalon towards oakdale. Look for enterprise on the north side of road, look for sign at end of driveway!

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The highlight of this visit was not just a farm, but a very unique class room on a country road in Turlock, in a barn on a farm….
there are children , teachers, desks, chalk boards, cows, goats, pigs, turkeys, a vegetable garden, a fruit garden and lots of fresh air!

We arrived with organic seeds, donated by The Greenery Nursery in Turlock, and compostable containers for all the students. These kids where excited to show us their farm and share with us their responsibilities of animal care and garden care. Kat talked about our farm visits and the many career choices in the farm industry with out being a farmer. What really sparked their interest was talk about our blog and how we social network, after all this is the plugged in generation, they already have the skills of online networking and this group understood the importance of how to apply it in creating a successful business.

Here at Keyes To Learning Charter School young minds are taught the environmental issues that effect the area they live in by learning with a hands on approach to earth friendly responsible farming & gardening. This open laboratory for outdoor exploration is the only school in the central valley that offers an alternative and creative curriculum for home schooled students. Since 1978 the gardening program has been available to students ranging from 5th to 8th graders attending once a week, with the older mentoring the younger allowing them to work on their leadership skills. This school also teaches the standard class’s such as California History, Art and Nutrition.

Diane Sugerman is the Ag teacher responsible for plant science and environmental education and believes …. ” We need youth that are knowledgeable about agriculture so that the industry will continue to be a viable force in one of the most exceptional growing areas in the country.”

That was the good news, now here is bad news… this charter school faces budget cuts due to economic times and is in danger of losing its program. They are looking for a permanent site, as this one is rented, the hope would be that someone or the Ag industry would step forward and help out in the process of educating our K-6 children like the programs offered to middle and high schools. Charter schools can be much more creative in developing innovative programs.

We are spreading the word about this exceptional learning opportunity for the future of our children so that we might inspire or motivate someone to help find a permanent site that would allow these students to showcase our local agriculture community through sustainable gardening!

Please shoot us an e-mail if you are interested in supporting this school in any way at: annariedinger@gmail.com

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Just as Athena, goddess of wisdom, provided the olive tree to the Greeks, the Piccirillo family provides all natural virgin olive oil to California’s San Joaquin Central Valley!

Fascination for Greek mythology and Athena’s divine creation of the olive tree is what started Anne Piccirillo’s dream and hobby, now nine and a half years latter it is a successful thriving olive orchard with 417 Spanish and Italian olive trees. The reward for persistence and hard work for Anne, her husband Paul and daughter Eleanor is now living in the middle of this beautiful olive orchard here in the small community of Gustine, Ca.

The Piccirillo family grows 4 different varieties of trees – Ascolano, Leccino, Frantoio and Mission, unlike many other olive oils their varieties are separated, offering 4 different types of oil – each with its own unique warm and roasted flavors. This specialty olive oil is extra virgin, first cold pressed (considered the best), meaning the olive is processed once & using as little heat as possible insuring the highest quality oil from the olive.

As we taste test a buffet of her oils with fresh french bread we learn from Anne just a few of the many health benefits of this Mediterranean fruit, it has a high content of antioxidative substances suppling vitamin E, healing fats supporting good cholesterol levels, lowering risk of colon cancer and the most common, heart disease.

When the harvest and time allows, Anne will also offer hand made soaps of lavender, honey/oatmeal and goat milk.

Harvest begins in the middle of October to beginning of November, while the olives are 1/2 green and 1/2 dark for quality flavor.

  • If you would like to try your hand at harvesting there is a volunteer day the third week in October, give them a call at 209.631.1137 … we’ll be there!

Athena’s Gift, Extra Virgin Olive Oil can be found locally at :

Beekman and Beekman in Hughson, Ca

Wolfsen’s Meats & Sausage in Gustine, Ca

Merced Farmers Market

Los Banos Farmers Market

Hops & Bangers event in Gustine, Ca

To order online and learn more about the people in your neighborhood visit Athena’s Gift!

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Open Space Meats

What a refreshing afternoon it turned into as we visited with Seth Nitschke and toured his beautiful grass fed beef ranch. We hopped on the back of his quad and off we went for a bumpy ride and a first hand view of the ranch.
He did warn us about the rough ride, his energy and knowledge made up for it, we survived!

It was an educating day for us, learning the care of the land and the life of pasture fed cattle. Seth explains the fine line of under grazing and over grazing, believing in slow, easy and natural, not too many cattle and not to long a time. Grazing in moderation helps the reproduction of grass allowing it to replenish its roots, prevents topsoil erosion, keeps a healthy rangeland, maintains clean water, protects against disease that will produce healthy quality beef.

In 1992 Seth spent time as an exchange student in Western Australia. In 1994 he returned to Australia to work on a ranch, then again in 1997 spending 6 weeks on the ground with a chuck wagon rounding up cattle – you don’t hear stories like that anymore. When he returned to the states he was a cattle buyer for larger corporations back east and in this area. After years of not being satisfied with the practices of the industry Open Space Meats was established.

He tells us, “I had enough of feed yards and lots, I’m not bashing them, what they are doing is not bad, we are just doing it better – the way we think it should be done, no steroids or concentrated grains, we raise grass feed cattle because we believe it is the right thing to do. The ranch looks good, the cows look good and it is good for our customers. We take great care of our ground, our animals and people.”

Currently they are renting grazing land in Hornitos and run about 30 head of cattle in a few different locations. They buy their calves from local known sources; people they know and trust then grass feed them until they are about 2 years of age. He does not believe in pushing the cattle past or faster then what nature has intended. Seth loves what he does and respects the land and the spring that runs through it, with plans to plant oak trees along the small creek to help improve the water retention and soil composition.

Seth jokes when he says many of their clients are recovering vegetarians, now enjoying nutritious grass fed meats. He is proud to say they have a 75% reorder rate from their customers. Most people hear about Open Space Meats by word of mouth, with customers located all over California, from San Fransisco to San Diego and a few out of state. In most cases Seth likes to deliver meat himself, wanting his customer to know where their food comes from and wanting to know his customer!

To place your custom beef order visit www.openspacemeats.com,
give Seth an e-mail or call (209) 262-8780.

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This California Certified Organic Farm in Merced, is family owned and operated by David and Michelle Silveira, along with their two sons, Joseph and Antonio. It is an abundant 65 acre ranch that produces organic crops, along with organic oat hay, Boer Goats (for sale) and many grass fed Sexlink chickens.

As we walked into the garden the colors were amazing. All neatly lined up in rows, about 20 to 30 different types of winter crops…. Kale, Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Celeriac, Leeks, Bok Choy, Garlic, Radishes, Turnips, Carrots, Broccoli, Beets, Rutabaga, Pack Choy, Lemon Grass, Arugula, and much more. The newly planted oat hay had three inches of growth that covered most of the ranch like a soft velvety green blanket, some day to feed local organic cows.

Throughout this last year, Silveira Farms provided fresh produce to about 100 happy CSA subscribers, their boxes are full of beautifully colored quality produce raised and harvested on the farm. Dedicated to keeping their members connected to the farm, a newsletter is included with recipes for what is currently in season. In addition to their shares, they offer add-ons of produce from other local organic farms like: T & D Willey Farms, Riverdance Farms, Cuyama, and A V Thomas. With drop sites in Merced, Turlock and surrounding areas, David plans to increase their CSA participation by 100 this next year.

This committed farmer shared with us how he has been farming this diversified ranch for about three years, and found this particular land through California FarmLink, a non-profit organization that helps build and conserve family farms in California. This property had sat vacant waiting for an organic farmer, David filled that spot and turned it into a successful alternative to store bought well traveled produce.

David has been honored this month by California FarmLink, with an invitation to Washington DC and discuss the 2008 farm bill, concerning policies and the future of farm business.

Congratulations Rancho piccolo – Silveira Farms!

Make 2008 a year of healthy food choices and sign up for a CSA!

David and Michelle can be contacted by calling (209) 380-9104 or at silveiradavid@hotmail.com

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Contented Acres is a small California registered organic farm just south of Gustine, on Hwy 33. Bill Nunes farms this garden, that has been in his family for many years. His farm has a few walnut trees and grows 15 to 20 different varieties of vegetables, such as Swiss chard, mustard, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, red and green cabbage, beets, turnips, green mix, strawberries and much more.We asked how the name of his garden came about? He told us about a metal sign that once sat out front on his fathers dairy (made by his grandfather) that read “Contented Acres“. Bill felt this fit his way of farming, so he kept the name.Most of his produce is sold through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), with two drop off locations in Turlock, one in Modesto, and also from his garden two mornings a week (weather permitting.) To sign up for his beautiful produce, there is a six month wait.

When we first met Bill he was wearing a shirt that said “Dirt First“. He explained it is from the Eco Farming Association that represents a better way of farming, by feeding the soil with organic matter and nutrients. Bill said “I believe organic treatment is better for the soil, better for people, better for a lot of things.”

Bill is an active member of the community serving on many committees and organizations. He enjoys living in Gustine with his wife Marybeth and son Derek (who will be moving to Sacramento soon to further his education.)

For all those who would like more information on how to join the list of veggie lovers, make sure to give Bill a ring or email at…

(209) 535-0484

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Riverdance Farm is located in Livingston California, an organic diversified farm that runs along the Merced River across from McConnell State Park. Bill and Cindy are proud of their 74 acre farm which produces lavender, cherries, blueberries, walnuts, pomegranates, persimmons, and alfalfa.

Bill and Cindy met us with warm welcoming smiles and invited us to pick from their persimmon trees in the front yard. They shared with us an aerial photo of their farm, with 1.5 miles of river frontage, with a portion adjoined to McConnell Park’s wild life preserve.

The tour began with an all around beautiful view of the Merced River from their back yard, where you find a lemon, orange and mandarin tree and a small garden of tomatoes and peppers. We visited the fragrant barn where the lavender is dried, then passed the field where it grows. We saw where they have just pulled up their aged almond trees while Bill tilled the soil on his tractor, there are still young pecan trees and some large old oak trees throughout the partially empty orchard. Cindy loves this land, every tree and every animal. She knows the year and date of almost every fallen tree and can list the animals that now use it for habitat.

Down on the lower level closer to the river you find cherries, blueberries, persimmons and walnut trees. There are two river access points, one called “Sasha Point” (named after her favorite dog) and the other they just called “The Point”. As we continued down to the point we saw the river as it curved and bent, running over rocks and land making its own beautiful music. All we could think was, what a peaceful place.

The Pick & Gather at Riverdance Farms a 9th annual heartland event, will be celebrated on this abundant farm on May 30 and May 31, 2009. This is a family fun-filled festival with music, food, you pick fruit, educational seminars, activities for adults and children, with camping if you wish.

In addition to farming, Bill and Cindy have been pest-control advisers since 1979, and own Four Seasons Ag Consulting Inc. They practice sustainable farming, are passionate environmentalists dedicated to their regional ecosystem, and are members of Merced County Planning Commission, CCOF, CAFF and various committees.

We enjoyed our visit at Riverdance Farms and encourage all to attend the Pick & Gather, and look forward to the upcoming You-Pick season for blueberries and cherries starting Memorial Weekend to Fathers Day!

For more information visit our Organic Farmers page.

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Anderson Almonds is a thriving Organic Almond farm in Hilmar, California. Not only do they supply almonds locally but they export them to many parts of the world. They have 20 acres of Organic almonds that Glenn Anderson lovingly takes care of on a family farm that is about 100 years old. Glenn and his family have also grown fruit trees on the property so that they can pick something fresh and ripe everyday of the year. We had a chance to share ideas and learn more about Organic farming while sipping some hot tea with Glenn on his patio. Tippie and Lonnie his “guard dogs” joined in relaxing under our feet.

Glenn shared with us that that market access is one of the biggest challenges facing small farmers. Our society is changing its eating habits and small farmers need to be aware of the vast number of sub cultures evolving around eating healthy. Raw Foodists, Vegans and Vegetarians are demanding more fresh, local and Organic products and there is a need for small farmers to connect with them and provide them with what they want.

“Most farmers have focused on High Volume Orientation rather then quality and sustainability,” says Glenn. “Our world is aspiring for more, more, and more with diminishing resources – these two ideas do not lead to success. Even the basics from the farm have changed.” We look across the way where there was a field planted with a feed mixture for a nearby dairy. “I have watched this field many times, do you know the cycle of this field? This field is prepared for planting by a very large tractor, then seeded by a machine, then irrigated, then cut by a machine, then chopped by a machine, then transfer to the storage area by a machine, then another machine loads it to be put into another machine to feed it, then it is feed to the cattle that go into a barn to be milked by a machine. All that diesel fuel, all those huge tractors, over and over again.”

Our thought….. is this the way it should be? Or has to be?

Treat yourself to a visit with Glenn at www.andersonalmonds.com. You won’t be disappointed!


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