I had so much fun accomplishing my 30 Before Thirty goal of visiting a local farm that I've actually gone twice and have plans of returning at least once a season. Southern California's unique coastal climate enables farmers to harvest bountiful crops year round so finding a local farm to visit wasn't hard at all. Suzie's Farm offers harvesting tours that include tours of their fields as well as the opportunity to fill a shopping bag with fresh seasonal produce. Several of our friends are members of their CSA so this seemed like the perfect place to start.
Our first adventure out to the farm was on a sunny day in late August. It was sunny, hot and dusty due to the lack of rainfall. By the end of the tour I was filthy, but it was such a fun afternoon and totally worth it. I also snagged this photograph which is one of my personal favorites to date.
We toured their main fields which included the beginnings of their sunflower maze, pumpkins, summer greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and okra. I was blown away by the number of tomato varietals growing practically in our own backyard and fell in love with their sweet Indigo Rose tomatoes. I also enjoyed hunting for the Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumbers that looked like olive sized watermelons.
We happened to be paired with the farm's chicken keeper who introduced us to all of his friends and showed off their latest batch of eggs. Not only was our guide a wealth of knowledge in regards to the farm and produce, but he also provided insight on the best ways to cook and work with each ingredient. I previously was under the impression that I hated frisee, but learned that sauteed with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper, it looses its bitter bite and becomes absolutely delicious.
Our second tour was scheduled for a drizzly day in mid-October. It included a tour of their teaching farm at Wild Willow Farm and a visit with the farm's livestock. We were able to see where the seeds are first planted and nurtured before being transferred to the fields as well as the facilities that house their famous sunflower sprouts and micro greens, tasting each variety as we went along.
The teaching farm also includes their "maternity ward" where the Chickens are raised and housed before going to work on the farm. And because no farm tour is complete without goats, I also made sure to say hi to the adorable little fellas below.
We didn't do the harvesting ourselves on our second tour since we did not go out to the fields, but we were provided with a large selection of yellow beans, okra, squash, eggplant and the last of the summer tomatoes to take home.
Much like when receiving CSA boxes, these harvesting tours really give you a sense of the local produce that is currently in season and encourages you to venture out and try new items that you either didn't know existed or maybe shied away from in the past. I'm already looking forward to the culinary adventures that next season has to offer.