Tuesday, September 30, 2014

PICK YOUR OWN

Fall's bounty is right at your fingertips.

WRITTEN BY ANN LINDEMANN
PHOTO BY JACI GOODMAN

Pick Your Own

M ost of us toil in offices instead of fields. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get our hands dirty and celebrate the fall harvest at a variety of pick-your-own farms throughout the Reno-Tahoe region.

Autumn is a great time to rally your gang and scope out the perfect pumpkin, pluck some apples, or stock up on the last tomatoes and raspberries of the season. Combine these pick-your-own experiences with other iconic fall pursuits — such as corn mazes and hayrides –– and you have the makings of an ideal fall day.

“Pick-your-own can become a family outing tradition — we have generational pick-your-own families that come to our farm,” says Rick Lattin, of Lattin Farms.

After years of transforming his Fallon-based farm into an autumnal family fun destination, Lattin now has a large devoted local following. A corn maze designer extraordinaire, Lattin says farm activities are not only fun, but educational.

“Everyone needs to know where their food comes from and how it’s grown,” Lattin says. “This is especially important for kids who think Cheerios grow on trees. Just like bird watching, farmer watching can be a valuable experience. They are the nation’s most endangered species after all!”

Before you load up the car and embark on your fall farm adventure, consider these tips:

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PICK-YOUR-OWN PRIMER

  • Call ahead for price and availability
  • Make sure you know whether the farm provides containers or if you need to bring your own
  • Ask about farm amenities. Do they offer water? Is food available for sale?
  • Dress like a farmer. Be prepared for the weather. Wear a hat, and footwear that protects from weeds, stickers, and more
  • Some farms accept credit cards and checks, but cash is the best method for pick-your-own produce
  • Best time to pick? Try to plan your visit during the early morning or late afternoon hours for the best quality of produce
  • Observe the farm’s signs and directions and practice produce-picking etiquette

 

PUMKIN PICKING POINTERS

  • Pumpkins are heavy; consider taking a small wagon to carry the bounty
  • Pumpkin carvers should bring their designs along to find the perfect pumpkin canvas for their handiwork
  • Farmers offer a variety of pumpkins. Typically the small ones are great for baking and the larger ones are best used for carving
  • Don’t pick a pumpkin up by its stem as it may break off and ruin the pumpkin’s natural aesthetic

 

FALL PICK-YOUR-OWN-FARMS

  • Lattin Farms This Fallon-based farm offers not only organic fall pick-your-own produce (their tomatoes and raspberries are legendary), but also a plethora of fun family activities from corn mazes to pumpkin towers. Visit Lattinfarms.com or call 866-638-6293 for hours of operation.
  • Ferrari Farm Just minutes from downtown Reno at Rock Boulevard and Mill Street, Ferrari Farm offers aisles of planted pumpkin crops as well as hayrides, a corn maze (try it at night with a flashlight), and much more. Open from Oct. 1 – 31. For details, call 775-856-4962.
  • Wemple’s Pumpkin Patch Near Susanville, Calif. (off Highway 395 in Milford, Calif.), this farm boasts 15 varieties of farm-grown pumpkins, a country store, corn maze, cookhouse, and tractor rides. Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Oct. 1 – 31. For details, visit Wemplespumpkinpatch.com or call 530-253-2514.
  • Corley Ranch This Gardnerville-based working ranch pulls out the stops every year with its annual Carson Valley Harvest Festival held 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. every weekend during the month of October. For event details, visit Corleyranch.com or call 775-265-3045.
  • Andelin Family Farm This pumpkin patch/fall festival in Spanish Springs (in Reno) will include seven varieties of pumpkins. The farm also has animals to see and feed, a hayride, barnyard activities, a hay maze, and an art barn with dress up, crafts, and story time. Admission is $5 per person (babies 1 year and under are free). The fee includes a $1 credit towards any pumpkin. Open 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tues. – Thurs. and 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Fri. and Sat. Oct. 1 – 31. For details, visit Andelinfamilyfarm.blogspot.com.
  • Hungry Mother Organics Bring the kids down to Hungry Mother in Minden. They will have squash, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, and more ripe for the plucking. For details, visit Hungrymotherorganics.com or call 775-267-3084.
  • Apage Organics After a total crop failure last year, due to the weather, Agape in Washoe Valley wasn’t open for pick-your-own organic apples. As of this writing, it appears the situation could be heading in this direction again this year. But there’s a chance they may be open. So be sure to call before you arrive at 775-885-1988 or visit Agapeorganics.com.
  • Apple Hill While not next door, Apple Hill is just a 2.5-hour drive from Reno. More than nine orchards/farms offer a pick-your-own experience. Avoid weekends if you can or get ready for large crowds. It’s a popular autumn destination. For details, visit Applehill.com.

Lake Tahoe-based Writer Ann Lindemann is a frequent contributor to edible Reno-Tahoe and her work can be found in a variety of regional and national publications. She loves picking her own produce and hayrides, but finds corn mazes a tad claustrophobic.

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