Bringing farm-fresh fare to your table is a popular concept, but a new local business — FARMstead ED — is turning that around and bringing you to the farm.
In January, Lynette Sonne launched FARMstead ED as a way “to promote locally grown and locally made products through pop-up events. We want to get people out to the farm and out to the ranch where those things are being produced.”
The “a-ha moment” for FARMstead ED came to Sonne while she was horseback riding on a friend’s ranch. She realized that “over the last three or four years, I’ve been really excited about all of my friends’ products — telling people about them and buying them for gifts. I was already an unofficial steward for all these products, so why not bring it to a bigger audience?”
Getting participants out to those various farms and ranches in San Luis Obispo County covers the “FARMstead” part of the equation, but Sonne is taking the experience a step further with the “ED” part of it.
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Though events will vary a bit in format, her multi-faceted approach always features an educational aspect. Most events typically include a site tour, a farmstead demonstration, a hands-on workshop and a pop-up mercantile that’s often stocked with the materials necessary for you to do-it-yourself at home.
For example, one of the upcoming events is the “Plant your Palate” at Bill and Barbara Spencer’s scenic Windrose Farm in rural Paso Robles on Oct. 4.
The day will start off with a tour of the biodynamic property, then you’ll get a presentation on what types of salad greens grow well in the North County. Following that, participants will turn a wooden pallet into a planted salad garden, which they’ll then be able to take home. At the end of the workshop, everyone will enjoy a lunch made with Windrose products.
Other FARMstead ED events have encompassed everything from a fermenting class, to a tomato canning class, to a bacon making class. In addition, Sonne has organized demonstrations about raising chickens, as well as butchery demonstrations and seminars about grass-fed beef.
“I love promoting small local farmers and ranchers,” said Sonne. “They usually don’t have the time to go out and promote their product, and by also getting people out to the farm and teaching them where their food comes from, it’s a win-win-win all the way around.”
That promotional aspect comes into play with such events as Windrose Farm’s annual Heirloom Tomato Festival on Sept. 20-21. The Spencers have held the popular festival (which includes tasting more than 40 heirloom varieties) for several years, but this year FARMstead ED is partnering with them to help stage the event. Sonne also helped out with the newly opened Windrose Farmstand, a small retail space at the farm with a variety of locally made products ranging from jams to soaps, as well as Windrose’s seasonal produce.
“Lynette connected with us through mutual friends,” explained Barbara Spencer. “We have done two FARMstead ED events here and love how she produces her events, so it was a logical next step to have her do that work for the tomato events and to have her help with the stand. To use one of her favorite phrases, this work is all in ‘her wheelhouse.’ She is a joy, and I am learning so much working with her!”
Find out more
For more information about FARMstead ED and upcoming events, go to farmsteaded.com. Information about Windrose Farm’s events and the farmstand (open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to about 6 p.m.) can be found on its website, windrosefarm.org.