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First of the Season

As one of the largest producers of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts in the world, California's agricultural makeup, warm climate and knowledgeable farmers have helped supply some of the most delicious produce people have ever tasted. Below is a list of destinations throughout the Golden State where seasonally organic goods reign supreme, including the farmers markets and restaurants to taste them.

FIRST OF THE SEASON

Springtime is Stone Fruit Season in Placer County
For Placer County, spring is the start of the mouth-watering stone fruit season, bringing with it an abundance of farmers markets such as PlacerGROWN Farmers’ MarketsTwin Peaks Orchards is one of the largest and most iconic growers in the county and supplies many of the area’s restaurants with ripe, tree-picked fruit. In Auburn, Restaurant Josephine offers seasonal French cuisine crafted with locally-grown fruits and vegetables, and artisanal The Baker and the Cakemaker is dedicated to using local produce in savory and sweet offerings.

Farm to Fork Epicenter in Yuba Sutter
Deemed “The Farm to Fork Corridor” in 2019, the Yuba Sutter region is known for its high-quality agriculture and produce. While most recognized as some of the largest growers of walnuts and almonds (harvested each fall), Yuba and Sutter Counties produce a number of different spring crops including berries, asparagus, peaches, nectarines and more. With over 20 farm stands and markets throughout the two counties, there is always an opportunity to experience fresh, sustainable spring produce.

Sonoma County’s Gravenstein Apple
The Sonoma County Gravenstein apple is celebrated across the region as they ripen in late July, signaling the beginning of harvest season in the lush farmlands. Find this luscious fruit at Sonoma County’s farm stands and farmers markets with the help of the Sonoma County Farm Trails interactive map. Grab a slice of pie at Mom’s Apple Pie on Gravenstein Highway in Sebastopol, where Betty Carr – “Mom” – has been baking pies since 1983.

Artichoke Capital of the World in Monterey County
Monterey County is an agriculture hub, home to both the Salad Bowl of the World in Salinas Valley and the Artichoke Capital of the World in Castroville. Artichokes are most abundant in spring, with the crop’s main peak season running from March to June. Visitors to Monterey County can stop at various farm stands along Highway 1 including Pezzini Farms for their pick of the delicious crop to prepare at home. Ag Venture Tours also offers an in-depth walking tour of the farm including a tasting of either fried artichokes or artichoke cupcakes.

Sweet Strawberries in Oxnard
Home to the annual California Strawberry Festival, Oxnard is perhaps best known for its strawberries. The city, named after Henry T. Oxnard – who sprang the town from a sugar beet industry – is where you’ll find berry and farm stands sprinkled throughout the area. Bobalu Berry Farms is one of a handful of recognizable berry brands in Oxnard cultivating the sweet fruit. Peak strawberry season is April through June.

Bountiful Berries in Santa Maria Valley
Thanks to the year-round growing season and cool, coastal climate, Santa Maria Valley is home to some of the largest strawberries in the country. With more than 10 strawberry varieties grown in the valley, Santa Maria distributes its berries worldwide – allowing taste buds all over the globe a bite of its home-grown goodness. Visit the locally-grown produce stands at the Santa Maria Certified Farmers Market to purchase some or experience U-Pick Blueberries, where guests can pick seasonal pesticide-free fruits and lavender.


AGRICULTURAL DESTINATIONS AND FARMERS MARKETS

Farm Fresh in Downtown Napa

During the early months of the year, Downtown Napa is filled with bright yellow flowers, otherwise known as mustard greens, blooming around vineyards and often spotlighted on seasonal menus. The earthy vegetable is a staple at the Napa Farmers Market, where everything from strawberries and basil to local honeys, meats and cheeses can be purchased. The weekly market is conveniently located across from the famous Oxbow Public Market, where visitors can also purchase their favorite Napa wine.

Vacaville Farmers’ Market Reopens Spring 2021
This spring, Vacaville's Farmers Market will reopen on April 24 as a 100% locally managed market, meaning more local flavor direct from farmers. Visitors can also sample local fares at BackDoor Bistro Wine Bar, which serves sustainable and seasonal produce from local farms such as Lockewood Acres, an organic farm that grows heritage seeds and breeds.

A Taste of Spring in Arroyo Grande
Get a taste of spring in San Luis Obispo County’s Arroyo Grande with family-owned organic farms or visit Arroyo Grande Farmers Market in the town's turn-of-the-century downtown village. Rutiz Family Farms is a popular stop for some of Arroyo Grande’s finest farm-to-table chefs like those at Ember and Flora & Fauna Fine Food, for local honey, blueberries, lettuce, root vegetables and more.

Unique Eats from the South Bay's Largest Farmers' Market in Torrance
Sample a seasonal variety of Southern California-grown produce from more than 65 farms at the year-round Torrance Certified Farmers’ Market — the largest in the Los Angeles South Bay area. Discover cherry plums, a unique hybrid of cherries and plums from Top Notch Produce; classic French macarons with a Filipino twist from Munch Bakery; as well as purple ube, coconut, pandan and horchata.

Rick’s Produce Market at The Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles
Rick’s Produce Market, serving the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables from its family farm in Fallbrook, recently opened a flagship location at The Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles. Born in Mexico and raised in East LA, Rick Dominguez found his way to agriculture in 2007 and slowly grew his customer base. This is the first time in many years that a “farmer-owned” business will be selling direct-to-consumers at The Original Farmers Market.

Fresh Year-Round Produce in San Diego
San Diego County has more small family farms than any other county in the nation. Known for its abundance of avocados and strawberries, fresh produce is found throughout the year at popular markets such as Hillcrest Farmers MarketLittle Italy Mercato and Ocean Beach Farmers Market. San Diego’s restaurants are known for menus defined by local fresh produce. Standouts are A.R. Valentien in The Lodge at Torrey Pines, one of the nation’s top farm-to-table restaurants, and the celebrated George's California Modern in La Jolla.


FARM-TO-FORK RESTAURANTS

California’s Central Coast Chefs Keep it Local

Carmel-by-the-Sea chefs have access to the best produce grown locally in Salinas Valley and fresh seafood from Monterey Bay. Chef Gabe Georis of Pescadero, a Baja-inspired Mexican restaurant, recently launched The Chef’s Stash, a Carmel-based, chef-curated box of local produce. Find California comfort cuisine at Stationæry, a restaurant and coffee shop sourcing ingredients from Monterey and Santa Cruz County farms and ranches.

bouchon in Santa Barbara
Visitors looking to take “farm-to-table” to a higher level will enjoy bouchon’s decadent Santa Barbara Market Tour and Gourmet Dinner. Guests join Chef Greg Murphy at the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market for an informative tour followed by a wine paired dinner. Guests are encouraged to handpick their meal’s ingredients from local vendors alongside Chef Murphy. Note: bourbon restaurant is set to reopen March 15, 2021.

Fresh from the Garden at The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Spring is welcome at Harvest Garden, the half-acre organic farm at The Ranch at Laguna Beach. The coastal resort recently reopened its Harvest restaurant for outdoor dining with a new springtime menu showcasing the season’s bounty. In 2020, the restaurant closures allowed the Ranch to pivot and share its bounty at the Laguna Beach Farmers Market, where the hotel provided fresh local produce.

Chef Rich Mead Spotlights Local Farmers with Sustainable Menu
During his three decades of culinary expertise, Chef Rich Mead of Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden has cultivated relationships with the highest regarded sustainably-focused farms during weekly trips to the Santa Monica Farmers Market, allowing him to create the freshest menus using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and specially grown vegetables.

Note: As communities re-open after COVID-19-related closures, some parks, businesses and attractions may still be closed or have new protocols in place. Please verify local guidelines and regulations for all destinations and hours and availability of individual businesses before publishing. Check out Visit California’s Responsible Travel Hub for guidance on how visitors can travel within California safely.

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