I feel at home on a farm – the open fields, animals, fresh air – they put me at ease and bring my spirit the purest form of joy. As much as I love the city, I equally love miles of land with not a person in sight. Being alone is something I truly appreciate, and for this reason, I love traveling solo dolo. While on my last trip to Los Alamos I had “visit a local farm” on my list of things to do. I had familiarized myself with the gems of Los Alamos, but now it was time I discover other pockets of Central California and the California Coast.
I wasn’t sure which farm I would venture to, but I did plan on asking the townspeople of Los Alamos where in the area I could see animals, buy produce, and get my life on a rolling hill. A young woman working in house keeping at The Alamo Motel was kind enough to give me a list of her personal recommendations. Her mother and I had bonded earlier on my trip speaking entirely in Spanish, and the three of us developed a friendship during my stay. After our great conversation about nearby farms, I decided that I would set out to Folded Hills, located in Gaviota, about 30 mins located from Los Alamos, between Santa Barbara and Buellton, off of Highway 101. On the beautiful drive to Gaviota I saw “Blueberry Picking” signs and cows roaming the green pastures. It was beautiful and true California living.
When exiting the highway, I gleefully followed the signs to the farm. I pulled up on a dirt road that led me to a gorgeous steel barn. I could see a small donkey in the distance and I knew I was about to lose it. Hopping out of the car, I spotted piglets and goats, which nearly made me collapse to the ground, as I couldn’t handle the cuteness surrounding me. I quickly befriended the goats, who were sunbathing; I could’ve ended my trip there with the amount of fun I was already having. Interesting fact, as a child and into my teenage years, I had considered veterinary medicine and started studying the practice as a volunteer at the Pasadena Humane Society. At the time UC Davis had the best program and I wanted to learn about more about the treatment and care of farm animals. I digress.
I made my way into the barn, which I discovered to be a shop selling organic fruit and vegetables from the land on which it occupied. The produce was vibrant in sight and smell, with prices too good to pass up. It’s wild to hold, taste, and experience food that has just been plucked out of the ground, void of poisons and pesticides. This is my ideal food story – and I hope one day a majority of us California residents have access and education (especially poc) to grow our own organic produce. Ron Finley, who I've been following for the past couple years and recently heard lecture at CAAM, is a leader in that discussion, who I recommend you check out.
Being incredibly inspired by the fresh produce I was fondling, I decided to purchase a picking basket from the farmstead and head to the field to gather my own strawberries. Being Mexican American, who’s grandmother worked in the fields, this moment was not lost on me – I had a mixed emotions, especially with the understanding of how migrant workers are treated in our country. I also began to think of my culture and family’s connection to the Earth and how important yerbas, plants, and gardening has been to our lives. Being among the flora and fauna has always felt like second nature to me, and it’s unfortunate that this tradition has been disrespected and undervalued.
Everything about my visit to Folded Hills was nourishing to my life – the food perfection and the farm so lush I could've taken a nap in the lettuce field. The local and organic olive oil from Figueroa Farms (only $8, that I bottled myself) was so insanely good that I got mad at all the trash I'd been buying back home. While wrapping up my visit, the farmer who oversees the property picked up on my enthusiasm for farm life and welcomed me to take a private tour. It was on this excursion I had the opportunity to meet his pet hog, chickens (they also sell fresh eggs), and play with the piglets. I cannot wait to return.
Folded Hills | 2323 Old Coast Highway Road, Gaviota 93117