Honour the harvest season this October at the Hoes Down Harvest Festival, a family-friendly event that takes place at the beautiful Full Belly Farm in the fertile Capay Valley. The valley, just north of Sacramento, has one of the largest concentrations of organic and sustainable farms in the world. This event brings many of them together, along with local and statewide organizations that are working on projects to benefit sustainable agriculture and communities. It all makes for a remarkable opportunity for visitors to get a glimpse of rural life and to deepen their understanding and connection with the local food system.
At the festival there’s always plenty of delicious, freshly harvested food on hand, including freshly picked almonds and walnuts, and a wide variety of melons, apples and every other kind of produce imaginable. Kids can see up close what it’s like to milk a cow, make felt out of wool and grind maize. Workshops on environmentally aware endeavours such as composting, tree pruning, the basics of sustainable butchering, herb gardening and even how to get started with solar energy are available (sign up in advance on the website). Or sign up for a guided bike ride, a farm tour or a course in flower design. You don’t have to join a workshop to join in the fun though: cooks-in-training can practice churning fresh, organic ice cream, for example, or take a wagon ride pulled by heavy horses.
The children’s area is perhaps the festival’s best attraction. There’s arts and crafts, storytelling sessions, music, farm animals to get acquainted with, and lots of games and contests, all with an agricultural theme. Children’s entertainers will offer multiple shows a day, and don’t miss the Manure Pitch-Off—you can get your hands dirty, then get wet in the water rollercoaster, or climb a hay-bale fortress.
Admission is by day pass; on-site camping is allowed on the Saturday night of the festival only.