Sustainable Culinary Experiences in Sonoma County

Farming is a way of life for thousands of people in Sonoma County, and for them, sustainability isn’t a catchphrase—it’s a means of growing both their profits and community by protecting their environment. For producers of Sonoma County veggies, fruit, dairy and more, maintaining the health and safety of their soil, water, air, workers, neighbors, and animals by limiting the use of chemicals, allowing natural processes to function, and keeping lines of communication open is paramount to running a thriving business.

The result of this focus on sustainable farming is a bounty of colorful, nutritious ingredients that relay a sense of place. These six culinary experiences will enable you to support Sonoma County sustainability while connecting you with the gorgeous land, skilled purveyors, and delicious produce that make this such a special corner of the world.

Farm Store at Green String Farm

The 140-acre Green String Farm, just east of Petaluma, has long been an influential player in sustainable farming, focused on assisting natural processes that help grow healthy fruits and vegetables. The Green String Institute, founded in 2000 by farming star Bobby Cannard, offers its own farm certification program to promote sustainable practices.

exterior green string farm wood building with orchard streesThe farm’s store is open daily, year-round; in addition to whichever delicious fruits and vegetables are in season, it always offers organic honey, preserves, and fresh eggs, pork, and beef. While you’re here, be sure to visit Green String’s chickens, pigs, cows, and goats, who all get a turn at being Farm Animal of the Month.

Farmers’ Market Tour, Cooking Workshop & Lunch with Relish Culinary Adventures

You’ll begin this half-day tour at the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market, where you’ll meet local farmers and producers to learn about their sustainably-harvested bounty, then select market produce such as seafood, veggies, herbs, and artisan cheeses. There will be extra time to purchase take-home treasures, too.

You’ll then proceed to the nearby Relish Culinary Center for a hands-on cooking workshop, where you’ll learn how to make the best use of every ingredient. The payoff for your labors? Enjoying the seasonal lunch you helped create, paired with tastes of local wines.

Vegan Wine & Farm Sanctuary Tour with La Belle Vie Tours

Hop aboard a Mercedes Sprinter van for a guided tour of Charlie’s Acres, a Sonoma Valley farm sanctuary that’s home to about 140 rescued pigs, goats, cows, chickens, and horses. Afterward you’ll visit two Sonoma County wineries known for their vegan wines (that is, wines that are clarified only with non-animal-based fining agents) and enjoy an al fresco vegan box lunch. Leaving from and returning to downtown Sonoma, this deliciously plant-based experience lasts six hours.

Hands-On Cheesemaking Classes with The Epicurean Connection

woman holding cheese in handWith an inspiring passion for Sonoma County farmstead cheese, chef and cheesemaker Sheana Davis will show you how to make your own cheese within 90 minutes—and how to deliciously use it, as well.  In addition to creating a roughly 3-pound wheel of fresh ricotta (that you’ll have to share with others) and learning about sustainable dairy production in the county, you’ll enjoy a cheese board and wine, and take home some cheesemaking tools of your own.

Apple Picking at Chileno Valley Ranch

Most of the year, Mike and Sally Gale raise grass-fed beef and lamb on their Petaluma ranch, but come autumn they invite you to celebrate the season by picking apples from their sustainably-farmed orchard. Of the 15 varieties grown here—including Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, and Arkansas Black—3 or 4 are usually available at any one time. Reservations for 90-minute U-Pick appointments must be made in advance, proof of vaccination is required, and there’ll be plenty of apple recipes on offer.

Mushroom Forays with the Sonoma County Mycological Association (SOMA)

Hunting in the woods for wild mushrooms is a (wildly) popular pastime in Sonoma County, but it’s ideal to ensure a sustainable, tasty, and non-toxic harvest by foraging with a knowledgeable guide. Throughout the fall, winter, and spring, SOMA holds guided forays that depart from Salt Point State Park by 10am and end with specimen identification and (if you’re game to bring some grub to share) a potluck lunch. See the SOMA website for fees, sign-up info, and what to bring on your mushroom collection adventure.

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