In our community we truly have the opportunity to shop locally for almost everything, especially our food. Petaluma, the chicken capital of the USA, is also well known for its produce!! I strongly encourage you to skip the produce isle at your local grocery store and go directly to one (or two or three) of these produce stands instead!
From fresh fruit just-picked produce, there’s a smorgasbord of ‘agricultural diversity’ of farm-fresh foods year-round
Grab a map or a well-charged cell phone for directions and head for Petaluma, where there are numerous farms and farm stands dotting the countryside and in urban locations.
Summer is an ideal time to explore the agricultural offerings around the community, where the bounty includes just-picked produce, newly cut flowers and fresh chicken and duck eggs. Some locales even offer tempting baked goods still warm from the oven.
“Besides being delightful outings for all ages, farm tours are essentially educational in nature, helping folks to better understand the importance of supporting local food systems, to appreciate the true cost of well-grown food, to realize the role that regenerative agriculture can play in addressing the climate crisis, and to celebrate the farmer heroes who nourish us all with the fruits of their labors,” Sonoma County Farm Trails Executive Director Carmen Snyder said in an email.
She praised the “agricultural diversity” in the county, where there’s a smorgasbord of farm-fresh foods year-round. You’ll find everything from homemade jams to organic honey, olive oil and herbs, and artichokes to zucchini. Currently, sweet, juicy strawberries are at their peak and, coming soon, enough apple varieties to support the proverb, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Most farms don’t use any pesticides or other chemicals and many are certified organic and follow sustainable farming practices.
From east Petaluma to Two Rock Valley and the rolling hills near west Marin, there are farmers welcoming visitors, self-serve farm stands with honor payment systems and opportunities galore to see where healthy food is sourced.
“Most people are very grateful we do this,” said Patrick Krier, who with his wife, Bree Bagnaschi-Krier, operates Suncatcher Farm on Bodega Avenue west of town. “We receive a lot of gratitude.”
The couple sells organic produce and flowers at their “veggie shack” farm stand, where the selection includes potatoes like Yukon Gold and Bodega Reds, Romano beans, carrots, radishes, several varieties of lettuce and sunflowers the size of dinner plates.
The produce is harvested just hours earlier, or within a day or so of picking, giving consumers prime flavors and nutrients.
Visiting the farm “bridges the gap,” Bagnaschi-Krier said, allowing people – particularly children – to see where their food is grown and make that farm-to-table connection. “Being here,” she said, “is so special.”
At Petaluma Bounty Community Farm, there’s an opportunity to assist others by supporting the farm and its seasonal farm stand. The nonprofit Petaluma People Services Center operates the farm on a formerly vacant lot near downtown. Today the approximately 3-acre site is rich with sustainably grown fruit and vegetables, a farm-based community food security project.
“We have a nontraditional workforce,” said Suzi Grady, the farm’s director. People of all ages (including teens and kids) help out with tasks like weeding, composting, seeding and harvesting, donating their time and skills through all steps of the farming process.
The collective effort helps the entire community and Petaluma Bounty offers a sliding scale for purchased produce based on economic need.
When the farm stand opens for the season, visitors will find a colorful produce.
“We want to provide as much variety as possible to our customers,” Grady said. “We have a wide variety of things that grow well in this region.”
In addition to visiting farms and farm stands for purchases, there are several farmers markets in Petaluma, as well as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms offering boxes of fresh produce and meat, often through membership programs. Among them, check Rusty Hinges Ranch. Tara Firma Farms offers grass-fed beef, pastured pork, chicken and more.
Sonoma County Farm Trails has a directory listing the many ways to source seasonal fruits, vegetables and more while supporting local farmers and food producers. Visit farmtrails.org. The following are among the many options in Petaluma:
Farm Barn: This tiny farm stand is big on charm, with a wall plaque announcing, “Count Your Blessings – & Your Eggs.” Purchase chicken eggs (the hens are clucking in the field nearby), plus duck eggs, flowers, jams, honey and more. Self-serve. Daily 8:30 a.m. to dusk.
Location: 2910 Pepper Road;
More information: facebook.com/tworockeggs
Green String Farm: This sustainable working farm and farm store provide a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, plus local cheese, honey, bread, eggs from the farm’s hens, grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork – and more. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to Sunday.
Location: 3571 Old Adobe Road
More information: greenstringfarm.com, 707-778-7500
Lala’s Jam Bar and Urban Farmstand: Visitors to this 1930s cottage will find local small-batch jams, jellies and marmalades and items from specialty food producers. It’s not a trip to the farm, but there are farm goods in every jar of Lala’s delectable spreads. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to Monday.
Location: 720 E. Washington St.
More information: lalasjams.com, 707-773-1083
Lavender Bee Farm: Visitors to this picturesque family farm can shop in a restored tank house for lavender blossom honey, beeswax products and handmade soaps. Right now there’s lavender in bloom, with bunches of fresh-cut lavender varieties, plus lavender sachets and dried lavender. Open by appointment.
Location: 764 Chapman Lane
More information: lavenderbeefarm.com, 707-789-0554
Live Oak Farm: Visit this self-serve farm stand where the offerings on a recent day included jars of strawberry preserves, salad greens, carrots, fava beans, chicken eggs, herbal tea and strawberries. Plums and pluots are coming soon at this certified organic farm. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Location: 1030 Lohrman Lane
More information: liveoakfarmpetaluma.com/thefarm
McEvoy Ranch: Renowned for its award-winning organic, extra virgin olive oil, this family-owned working farm offers scenic views of olive orchards; a retail shop open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; plus olive oil tastings and tours by appointment. Shop for everything from olive oil and accessories to natural beauty products made with olive oil.
Location: 5935 Red Hill Road. Its warehouse outlet is open 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday at 425 First St., Suite B, Petaluma
More information: mcevoyranch.com, 707-778-2307
Olympia’s Orchard: With more than 50 varieties, this certified organic apple stand has something to tempt every apple lover. Try Cinnamon Spice, Kidd’s Orange Red, Sungold, Mutsu, Jonagold, Fuji and dozens more. Apples ripen at various times throughout the season. Opens from mid-August to October, 10 a.m. to dusk daily.
More information: olympiasvalley.com
Petaluma Bounty Community Farm: Petaluma People Services Center brings together volunteerism, leadership skills, internships, job training and sustainable farming to provide farm-fresh produce for the community. Visit the seasonal farm stand (opens July 13) 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays. Discounts based on economic need.
Location: 55 Shasta Ave.
More information: petalumabounty.org/programs/bounty-farm, 707-765-8488
Petaluma Farmstand: The self-serve farm stand at this family farm located among the rolling hills between Sonoma and Marin counties features jumbo-sized organic chicken eggs (even double-yolked and green-shell varieties), flowers, succulents and more. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to dusk daily.
Location: 1315 Tomales Road
More information: petalumafarmstand.com
Petaluma Strawberry Patch: Look for the big, hand-painted sign featuring four strawberries, red arrows and “For Sale” near the Petaluma Village Premium Outlets. This farm stand offers strawberries from the nearby patch, plus seasonal produce. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Location: 2141 Petaluma Blvd. North.
Petersons Farm: This longtime family farm no longer offers tours but visitors can purchase fresh chicken eggs, honey and seasonal vegetables and veggie starts from the self-serve barn. Watch for signs at the front of the driveway announcing seasonal offerings. No set hours.
Location: 636 Gossage Ave.
Stony Point Strawberry Farm: This small, family-operated farm sells certified organic strawberries, jam and seasonal produce. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Location: 735 Stony Point Road
More information: facebook.com/stonypointstrawberries
Suncatcher Farm: Visit the rustic, self-serve “veggie shack” for diverse organic produce and pollinator-friendly floral bouquets. There’s also a small selection of pottery and home decor for added fun. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Location: 4588 Bodega Ave.
More information: suncatcherpetaluma.com
Tenfold Farmstand: Open just once a week, this farm stand has a limited but diverse selection. Catherine Clark is the sole owner, farmer, cake baker and pesto maker whose talents typically draw a line of customers. Select from produce, flowers and perhaps orange buttermilk bundt cakes and lavender butter cookies. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Location: 1094 Middle Two Rock Road
More information: tenfoldfarmstand.com