How to fuel a little city girl's love of farming?
April 9, 2008 4:32 PM   Subscribe

How can I support my daughter's interest in the agrarian lifestyle with my urban, black-thumb sensibility in the Bay Area?

My daughter has decided to be a farmer. The complications? Well, she's eight, we live in San Francisco and I'm as urban as they come.

She's talked about joining the San Mateo County 4H (even though it's a bit of a drive for us) and I'm trying to find her riding lessons so she can have the horse experience. But how can I give the kid a sense of the farm life and the reality of it – rather than the willing radishes into being a la "Harvest Moon".

Do farms have open houses? Is there "farm camp"? Are there books appropriate for the third grader about the real life on a farm? What's cheap (preferably free) that we can do to get a grasp on farming - that's not so farmy I'll go nuts.
posted by Gucky to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe head over to the Ferry Building on Saturday morning to let her talk to some of the local farmers who serve the Farmer's Market? I'm not sure if CUESA has programs for kids but they'd be one to check with, too. They operate the farmer's market. I think Alemany Farm is just for residents, but I'd give the ED a call and see if she has resources to recommend.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:39 PM on April 9, 2008

The search terms you want are pea patch or even p-patch, urban farming, urban agriculture. San Francisco is great for growing things - definitely get her to start a veggie garden, even in containers.
posted by emyd at 4:53 PM on April 9, 2008

Best answer: Oh darn, and I forgot to say that Alemany Farm, as otherwordlyglow pointed out, IS actually open for tours and even volunteering on the weekends.
posted by emyd at 4:54 PM on April 9, 2008

My first thought was to see if there was a Co-op extension farm in your area. Ours is strongly affiliated with the 4-H but also has weekend schools on raising animals and open houses a few times a year.

Are you close enough to do the Discovery Day camp at Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay?
posted by saffry at 5:06 PM on April 9, 2008

Best answer: Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay is a fun agricultural learning center run by UC Davis. You can hug chickens! And they indeed have a "farm camp".

A long haul for you, but Hidden Villa Farm in Los Altos would make a worthwhile day. I feel like there's a similar farm in Marin but it escapes my brain and my Google-fu.

Starting a container garden is a great idea.
posted by padraigin at 5:11 PM on April 9, 2008

Everyone's already pointed out the resurrection of Alemany Farm. I think the similar farm in Marin might be Slide Ranch.

I have regular pie dates with my 5yo at Mission Pie, affiliated with Pie Ranch. We talk about wheat. We're growing tomatos and herbs in a container garden, and we're on a waitlist for one of the Community Gardens.
posted by rdc at 6:00 PM on April 9, 2008

Seconding rdc's SFGRO recommendation. There are plots available in various neighborhoods. You can also just hang out in the gardens and talk to other people who are growing food. You might also check with San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG), who run Alemany Farm, and see what advice they can give you.
posted by judith at 6:08 PM on April 9, 2008

Best answer: Deer Hollow Farm at the Rancho San Antonio open space preserve in the Los Altos/Cupertino area (near 280) is a beautiful, historic working farm that holds day camps in the summer.

I would have loved to spend time there as a kid.
posted by at 6:32 PM on April 9, 2008

If you decide to help her grow some plants at home, maybe out on a balcony or something, get or build a very big pot of soil -- a small pot will not work as well, as it will dry out very quickly and be very difficult to keep moist enough.

Also - you could consider helping her set up (or she could set it up and maybe let you help) a simple drip irrigation system to keep multiple pots watered.
posted by amtho at 7:49 PM on April 9, 2008

Before we got our own horse, my sister and I would go to horse day camp every summer. That was down in Saratoga, but one of the Half Moon Bay or Marin stables might do one.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:38 PM on April 9, 2008

Here's a bunch of summer riding camps.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:40 PM on April 9, 2008

how can I give the kid a sense of the farm life and the reality of it

Plenty of farmers don't keep horses or even know how to ride. Riding lessons will probably be fun for her, but don't feel that she's missing out on farm life without them.
posted by yohko at 9:49 PM on April 9, 2008

If you don't have dirt of your own, get some containers and build earth boxes.

Also, I'd see if any farmers are doing u-pick operations. (My aunt and uncle used to have a berry farm. They started out with u-hoe, but that wasn't nearly so popular.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:15 AM on April 10, 2008

Response by poster: I'm embarrassed to admit we have a fairly large yard - but phrases like "drip irrigation" fill me with dread. She's got tomato sprouts and sunflowers in a pot and I'm convinced I would have killed them by now if it weren't for her care and patience.

I didn't realize there were so many farms around that we could visit and tour. I guess I know what we're doing this weekend. And since her dad works down near Los Altos, I'm sure I can wrangle him into taking her to see some goats.

Thank you all so much.
posted by Gucky at 10:00 AM on April 10, 2008

Need to plug the Little Farm in Tilden Park-
posted by Patrick Graham at 3:37 PM on April 10, 2008

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