Holidays Along The Farm Trails
As an alternative to the madness of “Black Friday” and the barrage of overly packaged, highly processed, heavily branded & exceedingly far-traveled consumer goods, why not shop along the Farm Trails this year? Nothing beats gifts that are hand-made, home-grown, artfully packaged and carefully produced. Support your local farmers, artisanal producers and small businesses by shopping locally this holiday season. Here are some of our top picks for thoughtful gifts. Arrange any or all of the following items in baskets or crates for magnificent packages.
1. Cheese. The rolling, finally greening hills of Sonoma County are home to vast herds of sheep, goats & cows AND to exceptional cheesemakers who carry the knowledge and inherited recipes of how to transform milk into delectable cheeses. This of course is a perishable item that might require more careful timing, but what a treat to receive the gift of grass, sunlight, milk flowing through udders, and patient human tending. Search out Bellwether Farms, Bohemian Creamery, Cowgirl Creamery, Pug’s Leap, Redwood Hill, Spring Hill Cheese, Tomales Farmstead Cheese, Valley Ford Cheese Co., Vella Cheese and Weirauch Farm & Creamery.
2. Olive Oil. Our region produces extraordinary, high quality olive oil. You can’t go wrong helping to stock up on this delicious, nutrient-dense, gourmet staple grown and processed right here in Sonoma County. Have fun exploring the world of olive oil and sampling varietals. Go to Beltane Ranch, Dutton-Goldfield, Freestone Artisan Cheese, Green String Farm, Hop Kiln, Kozlowski Farms, Larson Family Winery, McEvoy Ranch, Oak Hill Farm, Preston of Dry Creek and Sonoma Garden Park.
3. Cider. Hard cider is an up and coming Sonoma County specialty. Our cider makers are handcrafting and fresh-pressing batches using local heirloom apples. The results are complex and delightful. We love DeVoto Orchard Cider, FoxCraft Hard Cider, Specific Gravity Cider Company and Tilted Shed Ciderworks!
4. Wine. This divine libation makes an excellent gift for any occasion. Diverse microclimates in Sonoma County translate into incredible varietals in our various appellations. Since we’re home to world-class wineries, take advantage and buy direct from the source. We recommend Beltane Ranch, Dutton-Goldfield, Ferrari-Carrano, Field Stone, Hop Kiln, Korbel, Kozlowski, Larson Family, Matanzas Creek, McEvoy Ranch, Medlock Ames, Porter Creek, Preston of Dry Creek, Rodney Strong, and Truett-Hurst.
5. Honey. Honeybees vis it thousands of flowers to produce just one teaspoon of honey. That’s a precious gift. We’re grateful for all those honeybees and their feats of pollination, which are the underpinnings of our agricultural systems. And we’re glad for the beekeepers who tend them. We encourage you to visit these producers and share the love: Beekind, Bloomfield Bees, Hector’s Honey, Gabriel Farm, Lavender Bee Farm, and Sonoma Garden Park.
6. Preserves. With this old-fashioned and always relevant gift, you’re inviting someone to “taste a little of the summer” throughout the year. If you haven’t had time to make your own as holiday gifts, share the bounty from others’ harvests: Andy’s Market, Canvas Ranch, Dry Creek Peach & Produce, Gabriel Farm, Green String Farm, Hop Kiln, Kozlowski Farms, Laguna Farm, Luther Burbank’s Gold Ridge Farm, Preston of Dry Creek, Rainbow’s End Farm, Tara Firma Farms, Tierra Vegetables, Valley Ford Mercantile & Wool Mill, and Village Bakery.
7. Pies. We have bakers who make sensational pies, both sweet and savory. Include one in a gift basket, bring to a holiday party, or give a certificate for future indulgence. Visit Kozlowski Farms, Mom’s Apple Pie and Petaluma Pie Company.
8. Fiber. Wool makes for coziness all year round in our variable Sonoma County climate. Plus, it’s a natural wicking material that helps regulate body temperature. We highly recommend that you check out the Valley Ford Wool Mill & Mercantile for exquisite bedding, blankets, rugs, clothing, yarn, craft supplies and more. Canvas Ranch, Jacob’s Jamboree, Old Seeder Farm & Tierra Vegetables also offer wonderful wool products for fiber enthusiasts. And we love the practical wool products for home that Sonoma Wool Company is making.
9. Seeds. Winter is the season to start dreaming up gardens. Give packets of yours or their favorite seeds to inspire planning and plantings. They’re beautiful little packages with miraculous contents. Find seeds at Grow Gardens, Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery, Petaluma Seed Bank and Western Farm Center.
10. Beeswax Candles. During this time when days are shorter and the sun sets earlier, the warm glow of candlelight is especially comforting and symbolic. Whether lighting candles is part of a holiday tradition or a bathing ritual, beeswax are the best. They’re clean burning, toxin-free and naturally fragrant. You can find gorgeous candles at Beekind, Bloomfield Bees, Green String Farm, Hector’s Honey, Lavender Bee Farm, Lynn’s Lavender & Osmosis Day Spa.
11. Soaps/ Salves. Artisan body products are a small luxury, and the packaging, scents, textures, and lather are worth the expenditure. You might even treat yourself to these, too, while you’re shopping for loved ones! You can find handmade goodness at Canvas Ranch, Dragonfly Floral, Freestone Artisan Cheese, Kozlowski Farms, Lynn’s Lavender, Matanzas Creek Winery, McEvoy Ranch, Oak Hill Farm of Sonoma, Osmosis Day Spa, and Valley Ford Mercantile & Wool Mill.
12. Restaurant Gift Certificates. Sonoma County is home to excellent chefs who have pioneered and perfected the Farm to Table model. Treat someone to a sensational culinary experience at one of our favorite restaurants or food trucks: Backyard, Central Market, Fork Roadhouse, John Ash & Co., Petaluma Pie Company, Taylor Maid, The Duck Club, The Farmer’s Wife, the girl & the fig, The Kefiry, Woodfour Brewing Co., and Zazu.
13. CSA Subscriptions. Purchase a “share” from one of our local farmers for your friends & loved ones. Each week of the growing season (usually Spring to late Fall), they’ll be invited to pick up a box of vegetables and other products on site. Some farms also include eggs, cheese, meats, flowers, etc. It’s a fantastic way to eat seasonally while cultivating community. See which package and location is the best fit:
Chica Bloom Farm
First Light Farm
Foggy River Farm
Green Star Farm
Open Field Farm
Singing Frogs Farm
Tara Firma Farms
Victorian Farmstead Meat Co.
14. Trees. Admittedly, a living tree most likely won’t fit into a gift basket. But we include them anyway because they’re such meaningful gifts, a growing reflection of connection and an investment in the future. Visit our incredible nurseries in Sonoma County: Bamboo Sourcery, Cottage Gardens of Petaluma, Garden Valley Ranch, Greencraft Garden, Green String Farm, Grow Gardens, Harmony Farm Supply, Instant Jungle, Momiji Japanese Maples, Emerisa Gardens and West County Oasis Bamboo Garden. And if a cut Christmas tree is part of your tradition, we hope you’ll buy from a small, family grower like Garlock Tree Farm in Sebastopol.
Search our website to learn where you can find the above producers. We also encourage you to visit farmers’ markets for handmade goods. The following are great stops along the trails for local gifts: Andy’s Produce Market, Antique Society, Artful Arrangements, Beekind, Farm Yard Feed, Free Range Provisions & Eats, Green String Farm, Kozlowski Farms, Oak Hill Farm, Tara Firma Farms Store, and Valley Ford Mercantile & Wool Mill.
We hope that your time spent shopping along the Farm Trails is enjoyable, peaceful and inspiring. Know that you are significantly contributing to and investing in a thriving local economy by shopping in Sonoma County. Your dollars directly support the lives of producers; and their hard work and good stories deeply enrich your purchases. May our community be well fed by these connections. We extend all best wishes to you and yours this holiday season.