Fresh Off the Vine – Go Organic This Halloween

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Instead of picking out your Jack O’ Lantern at an overpriced generic patch this Halloween, take a trip north to Ryan O’ Shannan Farm, a certified-organic, Clover-Stornetta farm that lets you cut your own pumpkin straight from the vine.

The little-advertised pumpkin patch is definitely worth the trip (I discovered it on the side of my Clover Organic Milk carton one morning).  Located three miles outside of Petaluma, the farm exudes a mom-and-pop charm.  A group of small tents are set up in the parking lot area next to a path that leads to a large field full of bright orange and (if you’re lucky enough to find one intact) ghostly white pumpkins.  From heirloom to sugar pumpkins, you’re sure to find a great candidate for a Halloween stew or tabletop decoration.

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In the middle of the field is a vibrant sunflower garden.  Meander through the elegant stalks and any stress from city life is sure to fade away.

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After wielding your shears and piling your red wagon high with choice pumpkins, pass by the cheery, organic strawberry patch and pay a visit to the friendly Clover calves.  Each calf has its own pen and bowl full of organic feed.  And off in the distance catch a glimpse of what can only be described as happy California cows – animals roaming the grassy mountainside leisurely (no concentrated feed farm conditions here!).

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If you’re in the mood, take a wagon hayride back down to the main lot with the Clover mascot onboard.  Stay for lunch and enjoy delicious, thin-crust pizza for only $10 a pie served from an outdoor wood-brick pizza oven. If you happen to be there on the weekend, check out the cow milking demonstration and butter-making tutorial.  Select Saturdays also feature live music and entertainment.

The price for the organic pumpkins can’t be beat.  We purchased five acorn, three candy, two white and one large heirloom pumpkin (along with a big jar of honey made on the property) for $37!  Even farmers’ market prices can’t compete.

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I’ve always been a fan of Clover-Stornetta Farms.  Besides their sustainable initiatives (solar-powered fleet maintenance operation) and humane treatment of animals, their milk is pure, creamy deliciousness.  Seriously, I only buy my groceries at markets where I am guaranteed to get a carton of their organic milk.

It’s important to be connected to our food source and understand the process involved in growing quality products.  It takes dedication and passion for life.  And something as simple as trekking through a field to pick out and cut a Halloween pumpkin off the natural vine can really help drive the point home.

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Clover’s Organic Pumpkin Patch is located at 5360 Bodega Ave, Petaluma, CA and is open Tuesday-Sunday until November 1.  Call 695-7805 for information.  Some tips for city folk: get there early (we arrived at 10am and avoided the noon rush) and wear hardy shoes (it gets muddy and since organic = no pesticides, you’ll find plenty of creepy crawlies around).

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