Nothing says Christmas more than locally crafted food gift baskets, hand-cut Christmas trees and baby pigs. Yes, a Sonoma County holiday season would not be complete without a tour of a local farm, a tradition for many.
This year, in the wake of devastating wildfires that took an economic toll on the region’s agricultural industry, supporting local farms has never been more important, according to Carmen Snyder, executive director of Sonoma County Farm Trails, which promotes the industry.
“It’s been a tough time, a terrible tragedy for everyone. Some of our members lost farms,” she said. “There has been lots of rallying and relief efforts. The community really does want to get out and help.”
Farm Trails had a fall event planned in October, Snyder said, but that was canceled due to the wildfires that scorched parts of Sonoma County. Instead, the organization shifted gears and is now hosting Holidays Along the Farm Trails at participating farms through New Year’s Day.
At different locations throughout Sonoma County, visitors will be able to craft decorations, cut Christmas trees, buy homemade gifts and, of course, ogle the baby animals.
At Tara Firma Farms just outside of Petaluma, one of the participants in the holiday event, a litter of newborn piglets is getting most of the attention, especially from visitors with children, according to Brandon Connaughton, who leads tours at the farm.
“The piglets are super cute,” he said. “The guests are going wild over them. Baby animals are always a big draw.”
Tara Firma, off of I Street south of Petaluma, offers guided tours every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 1 p.m. On Dec. 9, it will host a barbecue at the farm. The farm stand, where guests can purchase artisan food products and even a holiday turkey, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Glenhill Farm and Gardens in Two Rock, another local holiday Farm Trails participant, has a petting zoo with lams, goats, horses and pigs. They also have a farm stand with handmade gifts and freshly harvested produce and eggs. Genevieve Ghilotti, who has owned the farm for a year, recently purchased the train that ran in Santa Rosa’s Howarth Park, which visitors can explore.
Ghilotti, who helped rescue livestock that was displaced during the recent fires, said it is important for children to learn about sustainable agriculture.
“It’s so important for children to see where their food is grown,” she said. “It doesn’t come from Safeway, it comes from the dirt.”
Glenhill Farm on Tomales Road, is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The nearest Petaluma-area Christmas tree farm participating in the farm tour is Garlock Christmas Trees, on Bloomfield Road. Open Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Fridays, guests can take a horse-drawn carriage ride, visit Santa, sip hot cider and saw the perfect Christmas tree.
Several other farms across Sonoma County are participating in the holiday Farm Trails event with holiday-themed activities and gifts on offer, said Tyffani Sedgwick, a spokeswoman for Sonoma County Farm Trails.
“This was designed to be a holiday outing,” she said. “It’s a great way to get people to see the farms around them.”
For an up-to-date listing of events, register for free at www.farmtrails.org.