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Placer farm tour not to be missed

By: Karen Killebrew, PlacerGrown
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One of Placer County's most unique events beckons on Sunday, Oct. 10. After a year off, the Placer Farm & Barn Tour is back. This unique, self-drive tour of nine family farms, ranches and vineyards invites visitors to meet the farmers that grow our food, and experience a day on the farm. Venues in the Penryn and Newcastle area tour are Mandarin Hill Orchards, Forster Ranch and Damiano Vineyards. In Loomis you'll find Twin Brooks Farm and Golden Pond Nursery. In the Auburn-area are Boorinakis-Harper Ranch, Machado Orchards, Pine Valley Ranch and Villa Fiorente. Each of the locations offers a host of activities for all ages, celebrating the theme "Local Farms, Local Food." Some highlights of the day include olive processing, antique farm equipment, local honey and beekeeping demonstrations at Boorinakis-Harper Ranch. At Machado Orchards, you can watch a half dozen artists at work and take a kitchen and orchard tour. Kids will enjoy facepainting and PlacerArts' AGROart Produce Playgarden. Villa Fiorente offers wine tasting by four local wineries: Fortezza Winery, Popie Wines, Cristaldi Vineyards, and Ciotti Cellars. Learn about grape growing and taste wine at Damiano Vineyards. Placer County Vintners Association will be pouring wine at Forster Ranch, where you can tour the cattle and hay operation and pomegranate orchard, watch stock dogs working sheep and enjoy small animal displays by 4-H members. Learn all about mandarins and citrus grafting at Mandarin Hill Orchards in Penryn, where you can burn off some energy dancing in the packing house or just relax and enjoy lunch under a mandarin tree. At Twin Brooks Farm in Loomis, home of the Thompson family of Newcastle Produce, visitors may pick their own squash, make decorative corn stalk bundles, or sample local products by Newcastle Produce and Snow's Citrus Court. Local author Joanne Neft will sign her "Placer County Real Food" cookbook, and several artists will be at work painting and making flutes. Be inspired to create your own backyard water garden at Golden Pond Nursery, with its spectacular water lilies, unique planting designs and workshops on pond management. Don't try to see it all … buy tickets in advance so you can plan your day by consulting the special map brochure, which lists times for special workshops and tours along with a list of activities. Some tips for an enjoyable day include wearing closed shoes and bringing a hat, jacket and sunscreen. Please leave pets at home and be sure to bring a cooler for purchases. Tour hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $25 for families and are available online at placerfarmandbarntour.com. Call (530) 887-2111 for more information. Karen Killebrew is the President of the board of directors for PlacerGROWN, Placer County's Agricultural Marketing Organization.