Unlike most of the farms that are on my list to visit…Oak Hill Farm and the Red Barn Store have been on my radar long before I decided to start this blog. Driving through Sonoma Valley on your way to the town of Sonoma or points beyond, you can’t miss the giant up-rooted tree stump. The driveway is what I always seem to miss though. On a few occasions I have driven in just to find myself out of luck, either not yet open for the season or on a Monday or Tuesday when the Red Barn Store is closed. But today I was on a mission…Red Barn Store or bust! Well we made it and what a treat.
I am not sure what I was expecting because I had some preconceived expectations of this farm visit. Probably due to the fact that I have been reading the inspirational and beautifully written book Field Days by Jonah Raskin. A part of me feels like a voyeur…like I know things about the people who work on the farm, that perhaps I am not supposed to know. If you come across this book and have even an inkling of interest in Sonoma County history, farms and farm workers, I would encourage you to read it.
As you turn onto the road that leads to the Red Barn Store, you feel as if you are entering someone’s passionately cared for orchard and flower garden. This farm is oozing with a love that is palpable in every molecule of this land. Driving by apple and pear trees heavy with fruit and row upon row of gem colored flowers.
The Red Barn store sits at the end of this charming drive. The inside of store took my breath away…not sure what I was expecting but it was an artist’s dream….Ohh… to set up an easel, pointing in any direction and paint, there was not a bad still life in sight. The smell of dried flowers and eucalyptus leaves infused the space with a wonderful aroma. There are baskets displaying freshly picked seasonal vegetables. This week’s selection included zucchini, carrots, beets and peppers. Every wall is covered in beautiful dried flower wreaths. A vintage old stove is used for a display of jams and jellies. The fruit selection was very large for a farm this size. There were five types of melons, apples, pears and even sugar plums. What caught my eye though was the Orange-Glo Watermelon. I had heard of this variety, though I had never come across one before. That was what we choose to bring home from the Oak Hill Farm, all twelve pounds of it.
Oak Hill Farm is on 45 acres of farmland in Glen Ellen, on the eastern side of the Valley of the Moon. The farm was started in 1957 by Otto and Anne Teller. Oak Hill Farm grows 200 varieties of flowers, orchard fruits and vegetables using sustainable organic farming methods. I could not even begin to tell their story here. The Teller’s are clearly pillars of the community of Sonoma County. It is wonderful to learn about farmers and farm owners that care so deeply about the land and the people who live here. I encourage you to Google them and find out more about this wonderful farm and family.
My family is enjoying the last hot days of late summer here in Santa Rosa. A cool dessert in just what we were hankering for. I decided to make a granita with the Orange-Glo watermelon. A granita is a frozen dessert. It is super simple to make and refreshingly light. You could serve it over ice cream or a sorbet of a different flavor. We just eat it straight here, I consider myself lucky if I can get them to put it in a bowl.
1 watermelon (5-6 pounds)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Make simple syrup. bring sugar and water to a boil, stir to dissolve the sugar, let boil 2 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
Combine the pureed fruit and the syrup in a shallow dish.
Freeze for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes with a fork to create a slushy texture.
Keep frozen for 2 weeks.
Enjoy the last week of official summer….Autumn is in the air…
Oak Hill Farm
15101 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen CA
Red Barn Store is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 -6 – April to December
Farmers Market’s where you can find them
Sonoma Plaza – 5:30 pm Tuesday – August thru October
Sonoma – Depot Park – 9:00am Friday