MONTEREY BAY — The 39th Annual EcoFarm Conference will host its annual farm tour on Jan. 23.
The bus tour of regional farms, ranches, dairies and packing houses has been rolling for 30 years, looking to inspire and inform anyone curious about how organic produce begins its journey to your plate.
Consumers learn about the planning and focused labor needed to set up a winter production area, observing transplants going in the ground and cases of produce heading for the cooler. Farmers will get an opportunity to see how someone else is achieving what they also attempt. Host farms will share their insights on cultivation and weed control, fertility, pest management, and habitat restoration projects.
This year’s all-day field trip will visit these four organic and biodynamic farms in and near the Pájaro Valley on California’s Central Coast: Dirty Girl Produce, Blossom’s Biodynamic Farm, Monkeyflower Ranch and High Ground Organics.
EcoFarm co-founder Amigo Bob Cantisano of Organic Ag Advisors, Jo Ann Baumgartner of Wild Farm Alliance, Sam Earnshaw of Hedgerows Unlimited and Richard Smith of UC Cooperative Extension will guide this all-day tour.
About the Bus Tour’s farms and ranches:
• Dirty Girl Produce
Dirty Girl Produce is farmed by Joe Schirmer now in his 20th year, growing 30 vegetable crops and strawberries year-round on 32 acres on three parcels around Watsonville. Schirmer markets at five farmers’ markets, to restaurants and local stores.
• Blossom’s Biodynamic Farm
Carin Fortin and Delmar McComb of Blossom’s Biodynamic Farm produce a wide variety of vegetables, flowers, animals and herbs, offering a year-round-herb CSA, numerous biodynamic herb tinctures, salves, skin care and teas. They sell through farmers’ markets and online. Passionate activists in the biodynamic movement, Blossom’s Biodynamic Farm teaches many classes.
• Monkeyflower Ranch
Rebecca King of Monkeyflower Ranch produces seven award-winning sheep’s milk cheeses, yogurt, and lamb from 100 milking ewes on 40 acres. The farm is a participant in the California Healthy Soils Program, which is bringing benefits to the farm by building soil health, creating native plant habitat and sequestering carbon dioxide into the soil.
• High Ground Organics
Jeanne Byrne and Stephen Pedersen of High Ground Organics grow strawberries and year round vegetables, marketed through their CSA, farm stand, U-Pick berries and farmers’ market. A UC Davis researcher will discuss the ongoing study of beneficial and pest birds found on this and 26 other Central Coast organic strawberry farms.
Lunch will be a natural foods meal prepared by noted chef Jim Denevan of Outstanding in the Field in Santa Cruz, with many ingredients provided by the farm tour hosts. Morning coffee, tea, and snacks will be provided, along with fruit and water during the day.
The EcoFarm Bus Tour will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 23 from 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. It is $95 per person, and includes lunch. Buses will depart from the Asilomar Conference Grounds, 800 Asilomar Ave., Pacific Grove at 8 a.m. Lodging at Asilomar is available on the night before the tour (Tuesday, Jan. 22).
To learn more and register, visit eco-farm.org.