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Pick Your Own Produce Fill your basket fresh off the farm for a real, down-to-earth experience.

SURROUNDED BY golden oakstudded hills with a brilliant blue sky overhead and a soft breeze, we wander up and down neatly planted rows chock-full of juicy red raspberries and strawberries glistening in the sun, ripe for the pickin’. And, yes, we are picking. Here at The Farm•Stead (2323 Old Coast Hwy Rd., Gaviota, 310/918-9400, farmsteadca. com), nestled between Buellton and Gaviota, you can pick your own organic produce, depending on the season, from berries, husk cherries and string beans to tomatoes, pumpkins and cut flowers. This little corner of heaven has a rich agricultural history. Homesteader Natale Giorgi settled here in 1898, first operating the farm as a dairy, and then transitioning to grain and row crops. The farm stayed in the Giorgi family for generations, and was sold in 2011 to a neighboring family with a deep love for the land and a vision of letting it remain agricultural and sustainable for future generations.

Farm to Abel Abel Basch came on in July 2014 and quickly filled wellworn boots as the new farmer. His 10-acre farm oozes rustic charm and is a picture-perfect model of sustainability. Everything grown on the farm

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is certified organic, and it’s all (except what you pick) sold at the Farm•Stead shop, which is housed in a vintage weathered-wood and tin barn. The expanded weekend market offers more local products such as homemade baked goods, honey, eggs, granola, cold brew coffee and olive oil (open daily; check their website for current offerings). Farmer Abel, sporting a perpetual smile and tattered straw hat, is a passionate practitioner of permaculture, which he studied at a fivemonth program in Israel. He believes in the philosophy’s practices of working with, rather than against, nature. “For instance, we’re growing cilantro year-round—it attracts beneficial insects. You don’t have to use pesticides.” Everything is put to good use on the farm. Leftover veggies are tossed in a tub that visitors can use to feed the resident Kune Kune pigs, Sicilian mini donkeys, llamas and Nigerian dwarf goats, which graze happily on the hillside behind the farm shop. Abel also puts up the farm’s bounty of berries in preserves (strawberry-with-ahint-of-mint jam, anyone?) and confesses, “I was up until midnight making ketchup last night!” After filling your baskets in the U-pick rows, visiting the animals and stocking up at the

Above: The Farm•Stead experience includes meeting both farm animals and the farmer Abel Basch, as well as opportunities to pick your own produce or purchase directly from the shop. Opposite: At Santa Barbara Blueberries you can pick your own fruit or buy at the farm stand.

PHOTOS (TOP-BOTTOM): SUE COOK (3), SUSAN BROWN MATSUMOTO PHOTOGRAPHY. OPPOSITE: COURTESY SANTA BARBARA BLUEBERRIES

BY NANCY R ANSOHOFF

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Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine, Winter 2015/16  

Santa Barbara Seasons is a resource for locals and visitors alike with lush visuals, engaging features and invaluable information on events,...

Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine, Winter 2015/16  

Santa Barbara Seasons is a resource for locals and visitors alike with lush visuals, engaging features and invaluable information on events,...

Profile for sbseasons
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