By LENORE RUTHERFORD
The Union Democrat
The family friendly, third annual Tuolumne County Farm and Ranch tour will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Sponsored by Farms of Tuolumne County, it will include food tastings, soap making demonstrations, activities for children and adults, workshops, handouts and more.
Six farms in the Columbia area will be featured this year. Cost of the self-guided tour is $8 in advance for adults. Call 928-3775.
People may also buy tickets at their first tour stop on the day of the event at $10 per adult. Admission is free for children under 18.
Farms of Tuolumne County was formed in 2003, said board member Marian Rocha Zimmerly.
She said former Tuolumne County Farm Advisor Jay Norton, of the University of California Cooperative Extension in Sonora, picked up a brochure for a similar organization at a meeting in Sonoma County.
“We contacted farmers and ranchers and were able to start with about 30 members,” she said. “Now we have 44 producers, four sponsors and several associate members.
The goals of Farms of Tuolumne County are to help local agricultural producers market their products and bring farmers, ranchers and community members together to enhance the viability of agriculture in Tuolumne County.
“The membership was free the first year,” Zimmerly said. “The second year we started charging $40 per year for farmers and $20 for associate members, called “Friends of the Farms.”
It became a nonprofit corporation in 2006.
She said current Farm Advisor Scott Oneto has also been very involved in the organization and helpful.
Stops on the 2010 tour:
• Bald Mountain Farm, 8700 Fraguero Road, is a diversified family farm with vegetables, fruit trees and animals. There will be tours of the fields and melon and heirloom tomato tastings. People are welcome to bring a picnic lunch and eat under the oaks.
• Mt. Brow Winery, 10850 Mt. Brow Road. Guided tours of the winery will be given throughout the day. Chef Christopher Segarini, owner of Christopher Ristorante Italiano, will offer a beef tasting. Products from EvenTyrGaard Alpacas will also be featured. Picnic sites are available.
• Bel Giardino, 22890 Mt. Holly Lane showcases principles and practices for a more self-reliant, sustainable, environmentally friendly lifestyle. There will be activities for children, guided tours and short sessions on several topics. Also, people will be able to meet llamas, see worms that eat leftovers, and sample beef, olive oil and salt from Hurst Ranch, Table Mountain Beef and Woods Creek Olive Oil.
• Bramble Hill Christmas Tree Farm and Boer Goats, 12161 Cattle Drive Trail, will offer tips on growing Christmas trees and a trip into the world of meat goats. The 16-acre farm has animals, trees, gardens and wildlife. There will be free refreshments, as well as a goat meat barbecue tasting between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. prepared by Eric Davis of the Diamond Back Grill.
• Seven Sisters Soap Company, 12279 Sugar Plum Lane, invites visitors to visit the goats who give milk from which the company’s soap is made. People will learn about the soap-making process and how to care for dairy goats. the farm also includes free range chickens that provide eggs, a vegetable garden and bee hives. Guided tours will be available.
• Rosemary’s Roses, 12600 Yankee Hill Road, boasts Tuolumne County’s largest rose garden with more than 1,300 roses growing in a wooded area, will offer guided tours and rose growing information when requested. People are welcome to wander the pathways and sit in the gazebo or picnic under the oaks surrounded by roses.