Farming and Ranching

Down on the Farm

October 1, 2008

Even in a place as bountiful as the Bay Area, many of us can lose sight of where our food comes from. Luckily, there are a number of kid-friendly farms where we can all go to get reminded of the lives of fruits, vegetables, and farm animals before they show up at the market.

Kids of all ages will get the chance to connect with nature, learn about growing healthy food, and better understand their own connection to the sun, soil, water, air, and the people who work to feed them.

North Bay

Full House Farm

1000 Sexton Road, Sebastopol

(707)829-1561 or (888)596-6006

Encompassing 23 acres of mostly wild land in western Sonoma County, Full House Farm in Sebastopol features an organic garden growing corn, potatoes, peas, beans, artichokes, tomatoes, zucchini, basil, strawberries, and more. The animals they raise are fed only organic foods. On tours of the farm, offered for small and large groups, you’ll get to feed sheep, collect eggs, learn about horses and rabbits, and sit atop the big farm tractor. Meanwhile, you’ll be learning about micro-farming, organic foods, and sustainable living. All visitors are welcome to enjoy the private walking trails that wind through the forest, oak groves, and meadows on the property. There are picnic facilities available for day visitors.

Slide Ranch

2025 Shoreline Highway, Muir Beach


Founded in 1970, Slide Ranch is a nonprofit teaching farm located at a historic coastal dairy perched above the ocean in the Marin Headlands within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). Slide Ranch staff operate the farm and maintain a turn-of-the-century farmhouse, old creamery, and several outbuildings situated along a scenic coastal bluff. The ranch itself features organic gardens, goats, sheep, chickens, and ducks, and numerous coastal trails, tide-pools, and pocket beaches add to this ideal outdoor venue for teaching about healthy foods, healthy living, and environmental awareness.

Harvest Celebration

Saturday, October 11th (10am-4pm)

Celebrate the season of harvest and bounty in the style of an old time country fair! Create and name a scarecrow, learn to spin wool, or just relax in the beautiful garden. All members of the family can have fun meeting the ranch chickens, goats, sheep, and ducks. Enjoy a variety of craft activities, guided tours and coastal hikes, games, local food, and live music.

Fee: $20/person in advance; $25 at the gate; $75 for families of 4 or more; age 2 and under free

Family Farm Days:

Family Programs are offered on most weekends throughout the fall and spring and offer families the opportunity to share in the wonders of Slide Ranch. Under the guidance of the ranch’s experienced teachers, the possibilities are endless. Visitors can milk a goat, rub a sheep’s wool, feed and collect eggs from the chickens, plant a seed, sample from the organic garden, learn to make crafts and food just like the early farmers and explore miles of wild land trails and tide pools. Pre-registration is required for all Family Programs. Payment is required to hold reservations. Spots fill up quick but waiting lists are available.

Fee: $20/person, age 2 and under free. $75 for families of 4 or more.

East Bay

The Little Farm

Tilden Park

(North End of Central Park Drive)

Tilden Nature Area

Berkeley, CA 94708

(510) 525-2233

Located among the 740 acres of Tilden Park’s Nature Area, The Little Farm was built in 1955 and features a variety of farm animals including cows, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens and pigs. Several heritage breeds are preserved here, including Milking Shorthorn Cattle. Visitors are welcome to bring lettuce or celery (but nothing else) to feed the animals. Open Daily 8:30 a.m to 4:00 p.m.

Upcoming Events:

Little Farm Open House Activities

October 12, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Kids will be able to grind corn to feed the chickens, pet a rabbit, groom a goat, or help out in the garden. There will be farm fun to be had for the entire family! Disabled accessible. This is a drop in program; no registration is required. (510) 525-2233 for information.

Mini Farmers

October 18, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

A farm exploration program for kids ages 4-6 years. Kids will explore the Little Farm, care for animals, do crafts and try some farm chores. Participants should wear boots, and dress to get dirty! Registration is required. Call 1-888-327-2757 for more information and registration

Farm Songs and Stories

October 25, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Love to sing, but can’t carry a tune? Everyone is welcome to squawk through classic songs and hear a farm story. Afterwards, participants will grind some corn to feed the chickens! Disabled accessible. This is a drop in program; no registration is required. For information, call (510) 525-2233 for more information.

For more information on events and registration, check Tilden Park Nature Area Events Webpage

South Bay

Ardenwood Historic Farm

34600 Ardenwood Blvd.,

Fremont, California 94555

(888) 327-2757, option 3, Ext. 4504

A visit to Fremont’s Ardenwood Farm transports visitors back in time to experience what farm life was like at the turn of the 20th century. Located on 205 acres in the heart of Silicon Valley, Ardenwood is well known for both its Harvest Festival held in October and for its Victorian Christmas Faire held in early December. Ardenwood also has plenty of year round activities for both kids and adults to enjoy. Visitors to the farm can join in doing old-fashioned farm chores, visit a cow or a sheep, try their hand at turn of the century crafts, sample a cookie freshly cooked in a wood burning stove, ride a horse drawn railroad or tour a fully restored Victorian farm house. Since Ardenwood is a working farm, the daily activities change from season to season so no two visits are exactly alike. Entry fee varies seasonally. Details and activity schedules are available on the EBRPD’s Ardenwood website at:

Harvest Festival

October 11 &12

It’s harvest time on the farm! Bring your family and join your friends for some down home country fun. Harvest the Indian corn and popcorn and help fill our corncribs. Take home a share of our colorful corn for your holiday table. Bring your own bags to take home your harvest. Enjoy magic shows, cider pressing, old-time music and crafts. Visit the blacksmith, ride the horse-drawn train and tour the beautiful Patterson House. Disabled accessible. Ardenwood admission fee applies. This is a drop in program; no registration is required. For information, call (510) 796-0199.

Hidden Villa Farms

26870 Moody Road,

Los Altos Hills, CA 94022,

(650) 949-8650

Hidden Villa is open Tuesday – Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to Dusk

Closed to the public on Mondays

Hidden Villa is a nonprofit educational organization that uses its organic farm, wilderness, and community to teach and provide opportunities to learn about the environment and social justice. Hidden Villa stretches over 1600 acres of open space in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, about 40 miles south of San Francisco. Children, adults, and families learn about the environment, and other cultures through fun activities in a non-urban setting. Visitors can visit with pigs, chickens, ducks and goats while exploring the farm’s gardens or hike on the surrounding eight miles of trails.

Weekend Farm Tours

Most Weekends:11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. rain or shine

Taste a root, come face to snout with a pig, and discover the connections between sweaters and sheep on a guided tour of Hidden Villa’s farm and educational garden. Public and group tours available. Tours held rain or shine and last approximately an hour and a half.

$7 per person.

Reservations are highly recommended and require advance payment.

Deer Hollow Farm (Rancho San Antonio)

Cristo Rey Drive

Los Altos, CA 94024

(650) 691-1200

The historic 10-acre Deer Hollow Farm is an educational center where visitors, school classes, and community groups can observe and participate in a working farm. Visitors are welcome to take a self-guided tour to learn about the history of Deer Hollow Farm and view the livestock at their leisure. The open-air, historic hay barn at the north end of the farm has many picnic tables for public use. Be prepared to remove all garbage, as there are no trashcans at the Farm or in the Preserve.

The farm site is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 8AM to 4PM, with the exception of Wednesday afternoon when it is closed from 1-4PM.

Upcoming events include:

Annual Ohlone Day

Saturday October 18, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Tour a replica Native American Ohlone Village and discover the history of the Ohlones who lived in the Bay Area for 10,000 years. Kid-friendly, hands-on activities provide participants a glimpse into Ohlone daily life. Bring your family and support this living history festival. All proceeds help fund Farm field trips.

Spring/Summer Farm (Spring 2009)

The public can drop in to visit the animals and learn about homestead farming. Visitors can view the rabbits, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, and pigs and check out the new farm babies. Tours include a walk through the farm’s large vegetable garden and rare century-old farm buildings. During this time of year, those on the tours get to go inside the pens to meet the new farm babies up close.

About the Author

Bay Area native Jessica Taekman spends her spare time hiking, surfing, and baking.