Locally produced foods are very important to not only one’s health but also to the local economy and environment. Many times, food is something that is taken for granted. We, who live in San Luis Obispo County, are fortunate to have such a rich agricultural area where we live. The Food History Project invited Lynette Sonne to speak at our July 8th meeting at SLO Provisions.

FARMstead ED founded by Lynette began five years ago in response to some of her friends asking her where to buy locally produced food products. She is a 4th generation resident of North County. Because of these inquiries, Lynette became aware of a need to connect the public with the food products produced locally. That became the goal of FARMstead ED.

Instead of talking about agriculture, Lynette refers to it as agri-CULTURE. There are currently nine locales that participate in her vision of introducing “folks to local farms, ranches and food producers.” They include Chaparral Gardens, Giving Tree Family Farm, Hartley Farms, Harmony Lavender, Stepladder Ranch, Talley Farms, Templeton Valley Farms, The Groves on 41, and Windrose Farm. Their locations range from San Miguel to Cambria, to Paso Robles, to Templeton, to Atascadero, to Santa Margarita, to Arroyo Grande.

No longer would the answers to some questions be only answered at the farmer’s markets in the county. Lynette’s vision was to have a Farm Trail, and she would provide tours or pop-up events at San Luis Obispo County farms and ranches who wanted to participate. These farmers and ranchers would work along with Lynette to offer hands-on classes. This way, people could see just what goes into making their favorite local foods. Here’s where the term agri-CULTURE is demonstrated.

The locales along the Farm Trail include several locations that explain and educate the public on how to make jam, cheese, artisan vinegar and olive oil, among other food products. So along with education, one comes away with an actual food product. And hopefully, most importantly, a new respect for the farmers and ranchers not only in our county but everywhere.

Barbara Hartley Goodrich was also at the July 8th meeting and is one of these “partners” of FARMstead ED. She was there to discuss why she thought the education of the locally-sourced food was an important part of our county’s history. Hartley Farms is an example of a San Luis Obispo County farmer using their property to educate people about local food products.

Hartley Farms is in San Miguel, just north of Paso Robles in the North County. Barbara purchased the 37-acre property with the plans of creating a wedding venue, campsites, and an organic farm; she wanted to originally have a larger space for her wedding business. Always looking for ways to expand the business, Barbara experimented with creating unique gourmet jam flavors. She created tree-ripened, organic jam using GMO-free fruit. Barbara Hartley Goodrich is one of the locals that joined Lynette Sonne’s FARMstead ED.

When an event with FARMstead ED is scheduled at Hartley Farms, Barbara provides a tour of her organic farm and orchard, instruction of making jam at an outdoor class, and a home-cooked meal including jam and toast. Some of her jams include spiced blueberry or peach jalapeno which she brought along for the July 8th presentation for everyone to sample.

Knowing that our everyday foods are produced right here in the county brings a new appreciation for ‘local.’