Holiday Shopping Along the Farm Trails
Holiday Shopping Along the Farm Trails
~ Carmen Snyder, Executive Director of Sonoma County Farm Trails
As an alternative to the madness of “Black Friday” and the barrage of overly packaged, highly processed, heavily branded & exceedingly far-traveled consumer goods, why not shop along the Farm Trails this year? Nothing beats gifts that are hand-made, home-grown, artfully packaged and carefully produced. Support your local farmers, artisanal producers and small businesses by shopping locally this holiday season. Here are some of our top picks for thoughtful gifts. Arrange any or all of the following in a crate or gift basket for a magnificent package.
1. Sonoma County Cheese
The rolling, soon to be greening, hills of Sonoma County are home to vast herds of sheep, goats & cows AND to exceptional cheesemakers who carry the knowledge and inherited recipes of how to transform milk into delectable cheeses. This of course is a perishable item that might require more careful timing, but what a treat to receive the gift of grass, sunlight, milk flowing through udders, and patient human tending. Look for Bellwether Farms, Cowgirl Creamery, Gypsy Cheese Co., Pug’s Leap, Redwood Hill and Vella Cheese.
2. Sonoma County Olive Oil
Our region produces extraordinary, high quality olive oil. You can’t go wrong helping to stock up on this delicious, nutrient-dense, gourmet staple grown and processed right here in Sonoma County. Have fun exploring the world of olive oil and sampling varietals. Go to Dutton-Goldfield, Kozlowski Farms, Preston of Dry Creek, and Terra Bella Vista Olive Oil Co.
3. Sonoma County Cider
Hard cider is an up and coming Sonoma County specialty. Our cider makers are handcrafting and fresh-pressing batches using local heirloom apples. The results are complex and delightful. We love DeVoto Orchard Cider and Tilted Shed Ciderworks, both of whom sell a Gravenstein cider!
4. Sonoma County Wine
This divine libation makes an excellent gift for any occasion. Diverse microclimates in Sonoma County translate into incredible varietals in our various appellations. Since we’re home to world-class wineries, take advantage and buy direct from the source. We recommend Coturri, Dutton Estate, Dutton-Goldfield, Ferrari-Carrano, Field Stone, Hop Kiln, Kozlowski, Larson Family, Porter Creek, Preston of Dry Creek, Rodney Strong, Russian River and Truett-Hurst.
5. Sonoma County Honey
Honeybees visit thousands of flowers to produce just one teaspoon of honey. That’s a precious gift. We’re grateful for all those honeybees and their feats of pollination, which are the underpinnings of our agricultural systems. And we’re glad for the beekeepers who tend them. We encourage you to visit these producers and share the love: Bear Foot Honey, Bloomfield Bees, Hector’s Honey and Suchernova Farm.
6. Sonoma County Jams, Jellies & Preserves
With this old-fashioned and always relevant gift, you’re inviting someone to “taste a little of the summer” throughout the year. If you haven’t had time to make your own as holiday gifts, share the bounty from others’ harvests: Dry Creek Peach & Produce, Gabriel Farm, Green String Farm, Kozlowski Farms, Luther Burbank’s Gold Ridge Farm, and Rainbow’s End Farm.
7. Sonoma County Sweet & Savory Pies
We have bakers who make sensational pies, both sweet and savory. Include one in a gift basket, bring to a holiday party, or give a certificate for future indulgence. Visit Kozlowski Farms, Mom’s Apple Pie and Petaluma Pie Company.
8. Sonoma County Fiber & Wool Products
Wool makes for coziness all year round in our variable Sonoma County climate. Plus, it’s a natural wicking material that helps regulate body temperature. We highly recommend that you check out the new Valley Ford Wool Mill & Mercantile for exquisite bedding, blankets, rugs, clothing, yarn, craft supplies and more. Canvas Ranch and Jacob’s Jamboree also offer wonderful wool products.
9. Seeds From Our Sonoma County Nurseries
Winter is the season to start dreaming up gardens. Give packets of yours or their favorite seeds to inspire planning and plantings. They’re beautiful little packages with miraculous contents. Find seeds at Grow Gardens, Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery, The Nursery at Emerisa Gardens, Petaluma Seed Bank and Western Farm Center.
10. Sonoma County Beeswax Candles
During this time when days are shorter and the sun sets earlier, the warm glow of candlelight is especially comforting and symbolic. Whether lighting candles is part of a holiday tradition or a bathing ritual, beeswax are the best. They’re clean burning, toxin-free and naturally fragrant. Bear Foot Honey and Hector’s Honey in Santa Rosa and Bloomfield Bees in Sebastopol make gorgeous candles from their hives.
11. Sonoma County Soaps/ Salves
Artisan body products are a small luxury, and the packaging, scents, textures, and lather are worth the expenditure. We suggest you treat yourself to these, too, while you’re shopping for loved ones! You can find handmade goodness at Bear Foot Honey, Bloomfield Bees, Canvas Ranch, Kozlowski Farms, Lynn’s Lavender, Oak Hill Farm of Sonoma and Rose and Thorn.
12. Sonoma County Restaurant Gift Certificates
Sonoma County is home to excellent chefs who have pioneered and perfected the Farm to Table model. Treat someone to a sensational culinary experience along the Farm Trails. Invite them to splurge on quality by picking up the tab at one of our favorite restaurants or food trucks: Backyard, Green Grocer, Peter Lowell’s, The Farmer’s Wife and Zazu.
13. Sonoma County Farms' CSA Subscriptions
Purchase a “share” from one of our local farmers for your friends & loved ones. Each week of the growing season (usually Spring to late Fall), they’ll be invited to pick up a box of vegetables and other products on site. Some farms also include eggs, cheese, meats, flowers, etc. It’s a fantastic way to eat seasonally while cultivating community. Visit our website to see which package and location is the best fit.
14. Trees From Our Sonoma County Nurseries
Admittedly, a living tree most likely won’t fit into a gift basket. But we include them anyway because they’re such meaningful gifts, a growing reflection of connection and an investment in the future. Visit our incredible nurseries in Sonoma County: Bamboo Sourcery, Cottage Gardens of Petaluma, Garden Valley Ranch, Greencraft Garden, Green String Farm, Grow Gardens, Harmony Farm Supply, Instant Jungle, Momiji Japanese Maples, Emerisa Gardens and West County Oasis Bamboo Garden. And if a cut Christmas tree is part of your tradition, we hope you’ll buy from a small, family grower like Garlock Tree Farm in Sebastopol.
Please peruse our website to learn where you can find the above producers and products. We also encourage you to visit our farmers’ markets for handmade goods. A complete list of Sonoma County farmers’ markets is available on our website.
The following are great stops along our Sonoma County farm trails for local gifts: Andy’s Produce Market, Antique Society, Artful Arrangements, Farm Yard Feed, Green String Farm, Rose and Thorn, Sonoma Chocolatiers, Tara Firma Farms Store and Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.
We hope that your time spent shopping along the Farm Trails is enjoyable, peaceful and inspiring. Know that you are significantly contributing to and investing in a thriving local economy by shopping in Sonoma County. Your dollars directly support the lives of producers; and their hard work and good stories deeply enrich your purchases. May our community be well fed by these connections. We extend all best wishes to you and yours this holiday season.
Topics: Holiday Gift Ideas