Apologies to L. Frank Baum, author and creator of Dorothy and friends and their adventures in Oz. At one point along the yellow brick road, Dorothy finds apples – and happily so because she’s hungry. And, for her troubles, the apple trees object. I thought of this scene this past Saturday when my husband and I, with other family, took a day trip to the foothills in northern California to explore Apple Hill. Apple Hill is an association of 56 ranches, farms, orchards, wineries…even a Fudge Factory Farm where my husband enjoyed a chunk of pumpkin fudge. More than just apples are available…depending upon season you can also get pears, peaches, cherries, pumpkins, plums, persimmons, grapes, Indian corn, nuts, berries, nectarines, kiwi and other vegetables. Although the mid-October storm that lashed California caused some damage to some crops, I saw lots of apples everywhere on Saturday.
The other thing that occurred to me about the trip was that this wasn’t just a trip into one of the agricultural areas of my state, it was the fact that we were also taking part in the agri-tourism of places like Apple Hill. Thousands of Californians – and Nevadans if the auto license plates were any indication – crowded the fruit and vegetable stands scattered over the hills. It made me wonder about the business of agriculture and the business of tourism and the marrying of the two. At a few of the biggest ranch orchards we visited, there were also arts and crafts booths, activities for children, food and drink. In this economy, a destination such as this might fit in with the whole “staycation” idea…saving money by taking day trips as opposed to indulging in multiple-day trips.
I found an interesting website, eXtension -self-described: “…is an interactive learning environment delivering the best, most researched knowledge from the smartest land-grant university minds across America….” They have an article, “Survey Shows California Farmers Profit From Agritourism.” In the article:
“…Survey shows California farmers profit from agritourism California farmers and ranchers hosted more than 2.4 million agricultural tourists in 2008…The survey’s preliminary findings suggest agritourism can indeed be a profitable supplement to a farm or ranch business. Agricultural tourism allows travelers a chance to visit working farms and ranches and can include experiences such as picking their own fruit, visiting a petting zoo, touring a vineyard, buying fresh produce or riding horses….”
As a consumer, I found the day valuable on two fronts: (1) I could purchase fruit and vegetables at a much lower price than my local grocery store offers…and the fruit and veggies were fresh; and (2) we enjoyed a great day out (tourists but close to home). We spent money on gasoline and lunch and supper. We live 3 hours from Apple Hill so it truly was a day trip for us.
Following are a few photos I took Saturday; I hope you enjoy the colors of the season.