Local farming events around the Monterey Bay this weekend

Living on the Monterey Bay, we’re basically in farm heaven. It’s almost harder to avoid local produce than it is to seek it out (have you ever found yourself at a grocery store on the East Coast, looking at a display of organic lettuce from Salinas?).

Well, it’s festival season in farm country, and my calendar for this weekend has been steadily filling up with some of my most favorite fall traditions—so many, in fact, that I won’t be able to make it to all of them this year.

But maybe you can! In the interest of sharing the wealth, I’ve compiled this quick list of local events for this Saturday.

MBCRFG Apple Tasting

I wasn’t expecting it, but tasting 77 different varieties of locally grown apples at this event in 2018 was my gateway into grafting. Our local chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers’ association is an amazing, warm-hearted group of home gardeners and professional orchardists who generously share their knowledge (and apples).

Just a few of the unusual varieties you can taste

The tasting is organized so you get the most out of each apple, from the simpler, sweeter varieties to the more tart, complex ones. There are also usually a few that have been developed by local breeders and you literally cannot get anywhere else. Don’t miss it!

As a bonus, this year’s tasting is being held during the fall festival at the Santa Cruz Live Oak Grange, and it looks like there will be a whole lot of pie to be had along with the apples…

Apple Cider Pressing Party at Happy Girl Kitchen

Or, you can get your apple on without leaving the peninsula! The founders of Happy Girl in Pacific Grove have been hosting an annual cider pressing since 2003.

The apple cider press at Happy Girl Kitchen

The presses will be running from 10-4 on Saturday, and I hear you can get a free cup of cider if you wear overalls.

Watsonville Open Farm Tours

This is a really neat opportunity to check out a wide variety of small farms in the Watsonville area that aren’t usually open to the public. Along with vegetable and flower farms, there are nurseries, fruit orchards, ranches and cheese-making operations, an olive grove, and  a winery you can explore, usually including an activity (such as a fig tasting and a wreath making demo).

In past years, you’ve been able to purchase entry to the event and then go freely from site to site, but during the pandemic they switched to selling specific tickets for each tour. There are still lots available! Farm tours has been very popular with our kids.

U-Pick Flowers at The Farm in Salinas – LAST CHANCE for the season

The Farm in Salinas does wonderful school field trips during pumpkin patch season (they’ve taught all my kids how to tell a fruit from a vegetable and how to pump water by hand).

But did you know that they also have a large plot of gorgeous organic flowers—and you can pick them yourself during the season? For the past few years, my family has absolutely loved carefully choosing and cutting our very own blooms. The joy it creates is well worth having a dining table that looks like a jungle for the next week or so.

Flower fields at The Farm

This Saturday, October 8, is your very last chance to get out into those fields until next summer (from 10-1). Highly recommend!

Hot tip: make sure to bring home plenty of Jessica’s beautiful statice, celosia, and gomphrena. You can hang all of these upside down to dry for use in wreaths or everlasting arrangements over the winter.

Bonus non-farm event: Swingout Santa Cruz

Personally, I’ll be wrapping up my Saturday at the Municipal Wharf. After being holed up and then socially distant like the rest of us, a few dedicated swing dancers in Santa Cruz decided to take the dance outside, and this weekend is their inaugural dance!

No lessons for now, but you can come enjoy the danceable floor recently installed by a group of intrepid volunteers. I can’t even tell you how delighted I am at the prospect of going social dancing for the first time since COVID.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you get out and enjoy one of our most beautiful seasons in the Monterey Bay area! Maybe I’ll run into you out there.

Photo credits: All photos are the property of the organizations hosting each event.

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