Above: Cowgirl Creamery
Posted in Blogging Marin on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 by MCVB Staff
Meet Your Makers: Marin County Farmers Grow a Food Community
By Whitney Butler
From artisanal cheeses and handpicked produce to aquaculture and fermented foods, Marin County is a shining example of traditional methods yielding quality results.
Since the early 1990s, Marin has emphasized locally sourced programs that have set precedence throughout the country, inspiring a new generation of farmers to think past today’s food systems toward a future of sustainability. The result of these farmers’ efforts has led to a culinary explosion in the Bay Area, known the world over for its creativity, seasonal flavors and farm-to-table ideology.
Meet the makers of your food with a visit to Marin, and explore the simple pleasures that make it all possible.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Aside from serving the county, Marin County produce is sold throughout the Bay Area at weekly farmers markets and small produce stands, and supplied to many of the area’s well-known restaurants.
For three generations, the Draper family has been operating its farm in Marin, sprouting up heirloom vegetables: tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. More recently, the cattle land of the Cerini estate took on new life and became a beautiful apple orchard in 2007. The family-owned AppleGarden Farm produces hard cider, which can be found all throughout Marin County. Visitors can even get a taste of life on the farm by enjoying the farm’s bed and breakfast cottage. The Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden is an educational farm site for students, set beside the College of Marin’s Indian Valley Campus. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the farm Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
These are just a sampling of the stories that decorate the farmland of Marin. Many farms are open to the public and some offer special tours so visitors can learn more about growing a food community.
Marin County is also known for its artisans — people who specialize in traditional craftsmanship, products often prepared slowly or by hand. Cowgirl Creamery specializes in artisanal cheese with unique, bold flavors that highlight the fresh dairy milk it receives from nearby farms. Sue Conley and Peggy Smith opened their creamery in the early ’90s after they had both developed successful culinary careers in San Francisco. You can visit Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, and enjoy sampling dozens of cheeses.
Since 1865, Marin French Cheese has been producing some of the finest European-style cheeses this side of the Atlantic. Known by Marin locals as “The Cheese Factory,” Marin French Cheese is the longest continuing operating cheese company in America. Not only do they still use local dairy farms to produce their fine products, they also continue to practice the traditional methods that give their cheeses the distinct and bold flavors that are loved throughout the world. Visit the Hicks Valley Ranch in nearby Petaluma and explore more of this favorite local treasure.
Locally Sourced Shellfish
Even the ocean’s bounty plays a role in the food community of Marin. A bounty of oysters, mussels and clams are cultivated from the shoreline of Marin each year.
The Hog Island Oyster Company is known for raising its oysters by hand and serving them at its farm in Marshall, or one of its oyster bars located in San Francisco and Napa Valley. For heaven on a half shell, reserve a picnic table on the farm, which comes with your own grill and shucking tools. Since 1989, Point Reyes Oyster Company has been providing shellfish to Bay Area wholesalers as well as the public at many local farmers markets. Tomales Bay Oyster Company in Marshall specializes in fresh oysters, clams and mussels and offers picnic areas by reservation for large groups as well. With a small beach for walking, family and friends can spend the day shucking oysters in a gorgeous setting right on the bay.
Many of these farmers and artisans express their dedication to this cause by supporting each other and one another’s products. It’s a network that has a ripple effect in the community at large — encouraging others to support local producers. The result is a sustainable food community — something that can also be described as authentically Marin County.
For a unique sampling of Marin’s food community, check out the West Marin Food & Farm Tours, a professional curated tasting tour of Marin’s local treasures. There are several tours to choose from including, Cheese Lover’s Tour and Quattro Formaggio Tour.
Learn how to grow your own food community and take a trip out to Marin County today.
For all you need to plan your Marin County vacation, visit the Marin Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website or Facebook page.
Our mission is to promote a viable food system, to educate the public about the benefits of buying fresh and locally grown food, and to bring farmers and...[Learn More]
AppleGarden Cottage is a very private bed-and-breakfast located on a working farm just outside the historic small town of Tomales. About an hour's drive from San Francisco, we...[Learn More]
Our creamery is located at Tomales Bay Foods, a restored barn at 80 Fourth Street in Point Reyes Station. There is also a cheese counter for tasting and...[Learn More]
A Favorite Destination for Visitors and Cheese Lovers from Around the World
Each year visitors from all over the world come to Marin French Cheese to learn how artisan...[Learn More]
Experience Point Reyes in a whole new way ~ come along on a gourmet guided tour of West Marin's culinary hotspots and sample the best wine, cheese, breads,...[Learn More]