We’ve been exploring the notion of harvest, a wonderful metaphor for Fall. As Langston Hughes said of the Civil War and the official end of slavery, “Harriet Tubman lived to see the harvest.”
Here in farm country, it’s also reliable fact. If ag’s your bag, there are so many opportunities quite close to home to gather in the harvest and take a few bushels home. Not only do you and yours reap the benefit—fresh, tasty produce, as healthy as all get out—you support endangered family farms, boost the local economy, and take a step toward reducing your food’s carbon footprint. Did I mention that following farm trails is fun?
Last week we explored the abundance of Butte County. Heading north along Highway 99 you’ll find worthy stops representing the far reaches of the Sierra Oro Farm Trail—most of these also included on the lesser known Tehama Trail, a self-guided farm and winery adventure that usually offers its official “passport weekend” in May. But you can take hit the trail on your own, at least for most places, any time.
Included here are the choice Tehama olive stops among the antique olive orchards near Corning and along old Highway 99 West—Corning Olive Oil, Lucero Olive Oil, and award-winning Pacific Sun, open to visitors by appointment only. If you get hungry stop at top at been-there-forever The Olive Pit, a café with store offering “ol-ive” (all of) the olive options, wine, craft beers, and other local products, such as Pendell’s Mountain Honey from Stonyford and Durham’s Skylake Ranch Pomegranate Syrup.
Or meander up 99 East, the official Highway 99 today, from Vina and New Clairvaux Vineyard at the Abbey of New Clairveaux to Los Molinos and Dairyville and the exceptional fruit and nut stops there: Julia’s Fruit Stand, famous for its variety of heirloom tomatoes, but count of seasonal fruits, nuts, and even pumpkins; Burlison Fruit Stand practically across the street, where you’ll find local honey and nuts in addition to fruits and veggies; and Bianchi Orchards, Walnuts & Wine, which serves up Chandler walnuts and Italian varietals.
Next north is Red Bluff, whose best-kept secrets include some inviting shops right downtown. You might try Cook at 643 Main Street for some “locally nourished” lunch—almost all the edibles here are from local sources—and also gather up some local ag-tour suggestions before heading northeast to Manton and the amazing wineries there. In 2014 Manton was recognized as its own American Viticulture Area or A-V-A, one very similar in volcanic soil characteristics and microclimate to the Saint Helena [he-LEE-na] area in Napa Valley. So come for the zinfandel and cabs and sirahs and chardonnays. For more information about Manton area wineries and a reasonably current starter map, contact Tehama County Visitors Center, or try the Manton Valley Wineries Association, though neither member roster includes all the estate wineries hereabouts. So look around—and ask—locally. Also take a look at the wine trail map produced by the Shasta Cascade Viticulture Association, Butte, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Trinity Counties.
About 10 miles south of Redding, Happy Valley Farm Trail represents the area west of both I-5 and Hwy 273 and south of China Gulch Road. Lots of family farm enterprises here – Crooked Fence Ranch sells citrus in winter and veggies in summer and fall; Tenerry Berry Farm grows and sells (you guessed it) berries—you-pick Black Raspberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Loganberries, Tayberries, and Olallieberries in May and June, plus Artichokes, Asparagus, and Rhubarb starting in March.
If you’re an animal-lover, you’ll find yourself drawn to Hidden Treasure Farm, where they have everything from Arabian horses, goats, pigs and sheep to Aussie Shepherds. Herd up your own farm-flavored fun here, almost any time, by tapping into the dozens of stops that make up this local network of farmers and ranchers.
You can do the same, now, almost anywhere you travel in Northern California, thanks to the farm-to fork movement. We’ll talk about some worthy stops farther afield next time. Until then, this is Kim Weir for Up the Road and NSPR.