Almond Blossom Festival Guest Review - Cheryl Bunnell
My suburban soul is soothed and my faith in humanity regained.
We just returned from the Capay Valley, CA Almond Blossom Festival, and I couldn't wait to share some our experiences with all of my HFI friends. Please forgive me for being so verbose, but this was such a life changing experience.
The festival spanned the 28 mile length of this bucolic valley. Unlike most "festivals" my story is not about over-indulging on food, drink and purchases, but rather, about the amazing people we met.
Most of the arts and crafts festivals in Silicon Valley feature countrified booths that include flavored almonds, olive oils and "homemade items", ad nauseam. They never feel quite right. This festival, however, was the genuine thing.
I was profoundly touched by the passion these folks have with where they live, their life style and the manner in which they produce their organic and sustainable products. And, they are all such genuinely nice people. I miss that where I live... a lot.
In Rumsey, CA, we met a kind and talented soul who has a huge and ancient pomegranate tree in her yard. She and her family can't possible eat all of the lovely little seeds, so she makes jars and jars of crimson jelly. It is oh so yummy.
We also met , a woman who works full-time as a paralegal in a neighboring county. She and her husband planted olive trees at their home and are now producing some of the best olive oil I've ever had the pleasure to taste. This is a true example of "home farming."
Another woman, whose name I didn't catch, produces Sonora Heirloom Wheat. I was especially touched by her passion for the heirloom wheat she grows and grinds at home on a stone mill she ordered from Switzerland. She was disappointed she didn't bring some of the coarse and fine grind for me to try. I was absolutely delighted to find wheat I had just read about in a recipe someone posted on this site.
Based upon recommendations from Camilla, the owner of the Rumsey House B&B, we made a few stops on the way home. We would have never have found these places without her thoughtful recommendations:
Our first stop was the Cache Creek Lavender Farm. It was closed, but Charlie, the owner soon greeted us. He took us on a personal tour, explaining the different varieties of lavender and the nuances of lavender farming as local dogs folicked in a nearby orchard. We left with a 4 oz. bottle of the most heavenly essential oil I have ever inhaled. Can you eat essential oil? We'll be back again and again, Charlie.
The final stop of the day was at Pasture 42. Based upon Camilla's directions, we traveled down a dusty country road, passing hundreds of chickens and many adorable cows grazing in the pasture. We passed a house where a woman was hanging wet clothes. "Are we there yet?". "No, go a little further." We arrived at a huge old barn where a young man was working outside. "Can I help you folks?" We responded, "Yes, Camilla told us you sell meat here." "Well yes, my name is Ken. Come on in." We left with a wine bottle full of premium olive oil and enough grass fed, pasture raised beef to last a year. Ken invited us back to visit any time and we were welcome to look around his farm.
I could tell many more stories from this brief visit to my version of heaven, but I'll save further comments until we return to Capay Valley in June for the Lavender Festival and to tour some of the Organic CSA's.