From fruit picking to hanging out with barnyard animals, there are farms throughout the greater Peninsula area that provide visitors an opportunity to learn about ranch life, as well as purchase fresh produce, cheese, jams and more. Here are 10 local farms to explore:
Webb Ranch: Just off of U.S. Highway 280 in Portola Valley, the 100-year-old Webb Ranch has an organic blackberry u-pick generally open June-July depending on the crop, a pumpkin patch in October with kids' activities on the weekends, and a Christmas tree lot starting the week of Thanksgiving. The ranch also offers horseback riding camps for children 7 and up. Locals can find the ranch's produce at the Portola Valley farmers market, Bianchini's Market in Portola Valley and Sigona's Market in Redwood City.
Webb Ranch, 2718 & 2720 Alpine Road, Portola Valley; webbranchinc.com. Check the website for the latest u-pick information and hours of operation.
Deer Hollow Farm: Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve is also home to Deer Hollow Farm, a 150-year-old property that serves as an educational center for Midpeninsula residents and visitors. Located in Cupertino, the farm produces and sells fresh eggs and seasonal produce, and annual events include spring farm tours, Ohlone Day in the fall, and Deer Holloween in October. Summer camps, farm classes and volunteer opportunities are also offered. Take a self-guided tour of the farm and see its animals, the orchard and volunteer-supported garden, and bring a picnic lunch to eat at the tables on the north end of the property.
Deer Hollow Farm, 22500 Cristo Rey Drive, Cupertino. Open Tuesdays and Thursday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission for all events is $7/person; kids under 1 are free.
Hidden Villa: Hidden Villa is an educational nonprofit situated on more than 1,600 acres of open space in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Los Altos Hills. Visitors can meet Hidden Villa's farm animals, explore the property's hiking trails and learn about food and sustainable farming. Make a day of it and bring a picnic lunch. The nonprofit also hosts summer camps, schools and corporations, and farm tours.
Hidden Villa, 26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills. Instagram: @hiddenvilla. Reservations are encouraged but not required. Open from 9 a.m. to dusk Tuesdays-Sundays from September through May (and select weekends June-August when summer camp isn't in session — check website for details). Entry fee is $10/person.
Harley Farms: Goats, wine and cheese — what's not to like? Pop by the Pescadero dairy any day between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to visit the goats and donkeys over the fence, or book a tour to see newborn goats in the spring and other farm animals, including peacocks and cattle. On Fridays, the farm hosts a Goats, Cheese and Wine tour where visitors tour the farm and do a wine-and-cheese tasting. A tasting room also is open Fridays-Sundays. Check out the farm shop for a wide assortment of cheeses, bath and body products, spice rubs and more specialty goods.
Harley Farms, 205 North St., Pescadero. Instagram: @harleyfarms. The tasting room and farm and cheese shop are open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Sunday; dairy open daily from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tours cost $55 per person, tastings are $60/person. Picnic tables are available. Leashed dogs are welcome in the pond area.
Blue House Farm: Located on more than 70 acres in San Gregorio, Blue House Farm has an organic farm stand stocked with fresh and seasonal fruits and veggies, flowers, jams and dried beans. The strawberry u-pick opened in mid-May and runs through the end of October. Since it's early in the season, ripe fruit may be harder to find. Stick around and picnic, and bring your four-legged friends — leashed dogs are allowed in the parking and picnic areas. Come back in the fall for a pumpkin patch, or find the farm's produce at local farmers markets.
Swanton Berry Farm: Swanton Berry Farm was founded in 1983 and became California's first certified organic strawberry farm five years later. In 1998, the Davenport property made history again as the first unionized organic farm in the country. Swanton has a farm stand currently open seven days a week, with offerings including an assortment of jams, pies, cakes and other desserts made almost exclusively with Swanton berries. Pick strawberries on weekends May through October.
Swanton Berry Farm, 25 Swanton Road, Davenport. Instagram: @swantonberryfarm. U-pick strawberries are $8/lb., and boxes are provided. No reservations needed. farm stand is currently open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closing hours change with the seasons.) U-pick is currently offered Saturdays and Sundays; check the website or Instagram for hours of operation.
Pie Ranch: Pie Ranch's farm stand sells seasonal produce and pies along with other local goods. The ranch annually hosts more than 6,000 people of all ages in food and farming education programs, including private retreats that teach visitors about food justice and farm operations. Every third Saturday, Pie Ranch holds a volunteer work day and a meadow dance night with folk music played by a local string band.
Pie Ranch, 2080 Green Oaks Way, Pescadero; pieranch.org. Instagram: @pie_ranch. Dance tickets are $15-$30 (sliding scale) for ages 12 and over, $10 for ages 5-11 and free for kids under 5. Farm stand open weekdays noon-5 p.m. (closed Tuesdays) and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends. Check the website or Instagram for the latest event information.
Andreotti Family Farms: The fourth-generation family farm, located near Main Street and Half Moon Bay State Beach, has been in operation since 1926 and produces winter vegetables. The family sells the produce out of its farm stand, and in the fall, Andreotti hosts a pumpkin patch, corn maze and u-pick sunflower field. Sunflower field selfies, anyone?
Andreotti Family Farms, 329 Kelly Ave., Half Moon Bay. Instagram: @andreottifamilyfarms. Check their website or Instagram for hours of operation.
Elkus Ranch: Through field trips and summer and winter day camps, children can meet the farm's animals and learn about plants, gardening basics and livestock husbandry. The Half Moon Bay ranch also hosts family events, including the ultra-popular Sheep to Shawl Day in June, when its flock is sheared (event registration has already reached capacity for 2022), and preschool days in the fall and spring. Looking for a private tour? Book a small group or family tour for up to 10 people, when visitors can feed the sheep, view the ranch's animal bone collection, hang with the goats and miniature donkeys and plant a seedling to take home.
Skyline Chestnuts: In the fall, Skyline Chestnuts' 20-acre orchard opens its chestnuts u-pick. The La Honda orchard's 120 trees can produce several tons of chestnuts during the short harvesting season if all the right growing conditions are in place. Skyline Chestnuts is the only such farm in the Bay Area, and one of only a handful left on the west coast. The orchard has been managed by the Johsens family since 2004 — the family started farming in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the early 1940s with a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm. The Johsens also keep honeybees and sell the honey at the orchard.
Skyline Chestnuts, 22322 Skyline Blvd., La Honda. Check the website for fall opening information.
Julia Brown writes for TheSixFifty.com, a sister publication of Palo Alto Online, covering what to eat, see and do in Silicon Valley.