The Power of Community
A Look Back—and Forward
In 1973, a group of forward-thinking farmers banded together with a revolutionary idea. Instead of relying on dwindling wholesale markets during a time of increasing international and corporate competition, they decided to go direct to the people.

They formed a nonprofit organization called Sonoma County Farm Trails, and created a map and guide for local agriculture, inviting the public to meet their farmers and learn more about the origins of their food and ag products. The same year, they also launched the Gravenstein Apple Fair to celebrate the iconic heirloom apple and Sonoma County's rural traditions. This was before the advent of farmers' markets, CSAs, and campaigns to shop locally, and well before social media and the Internet. They understood the power of community, and together, they made incredible strides in their mission to keep Farms Forever in Sonoma County.

While much has changed over the past 48 years, one thing remains: Sonoma County Farm Trails' commitment to promoting farmers and educating the public about the importance of supporting local agriculture. We are honored to be working with our 160-plus members—farmers, ranchers, producers, purveyors, and partner organizations—to ensure the economic viability of the agricultural backbone of our social fabric. And we thank you for your generous support of Farm Trails members this year, and every year! Because of you, our region continues to be blessed by beauty, bounty, and joy.

In this newsletter, we reflect on our collective accomplishments in 2021, and look forward to a new year of possibility and hope—together.

Cheers to the power of community!
2021 Along the Farm Trails: Profiles in Resilience

The year began with enormous challenges: pandemic-induced temporary closures and restrictions, followed by drought. But true to their indomitable spirit and resilience, Farm Trails members persevered and even thrived, and we were happy to celebrate and broadcast their successes and offerings. Here is a brief overview of our initiatives and sneak peeks at what 2022 has in store!

Our Shelter-in-Place web portal, launched in March 2020, continued in early 2021 to help you source local despite public health protocols that necessarily limited direct access. As businesses were able to reopen carefully throughout the year, we wound down this online tool, and focused our efforts on new features and experiences to make it easy (and fun!) to connect you with local farmers and producers year-round. Those included the following:

  • The launch of our new Apple Trail online map and guide during apple season, featuring where to find bulk apples, farmstead apple products, pies, cider, apple pressing, u-pick, and lots more.
  • The return of our annual Weekend Along the Farm Trails fall tour, with a brand-new online directory and mapping function to local pumpkin patches, special farm and ranch tours, cheese tastings, hands-on workshops, and more harvest fun.
  • The rollout of our new Holidays Along the Farm Trails online map and guide, plus brand-new Events Calendar, to help you celebrate this festive season with farm-fresh holiday food, drink, gifts, events, and much more.

We plan to bring back our popular Blossoms, Bees & Barnyard Babies spring tour in 2022! Stay tuned!

We know that farming is hard work, and it takes a village to make it a successful endeavor. To that end, we rolled out two new projects to support our ag community:

  • Established the Farm Trails Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, to provide training and services for the agricultural community and to educate the public about the importance of supporting local food systems. In 2022, our Foundation's efforts will focus on funding scholarships for ag youth, ag college students, aspiring farmers, and established farmers/producers, including low-income farmers/producers, and providing trainings for agricultural producers. We're so grateful to our donors who've supported the Foundation this year to get it started on solid financial footing! If you'd like to support our mission, please donate today by clicking here. Thank you!
  • Partnered with UC Cooperative Extension and CAFF to present an eight-part free webinar series for new and established farmers called Agritourism & Direct Sales: Best Practices in COVID Times and Beyond. In 2022, we will be continuing this series with more practical workshops and presentations. To view the 2021 webinars, click here.

The Gravenstein Apple Fair has been the primary fundraiser for Sonoma County Farm Trails since its inception in 1973, making our year-round work on behalf of our 160-plus members possible.

Unfortunately, the pandemic forced us to cancel the Gravenstein Apple Fair in 2020 and 2021. However, inspired by the nimbleness and resilience of our membership, we came up with a plan to celebrate the spirit of our beloved Apple Fair and raise much-needed funds for our operations, with a limited-attendance Benefit Concert in August.

Thanks to our generous guests, sponsors, volunteers, entertainers, vendors, board of directors, and dedicated Apple Core, we were able to raise the critical funds to save the Gravenstein Apple Fair. We are thrilled to announce that the Gravenstein Apple Fair will be back August 13 to 14, 2022! Stay tuned for more details in the new year!
Above: A look back at our 48 years (and counting!) of supporting local ag!
We connect the public to Sonoma County farmers and producers to ensure the economic viability of local ag and to instill an appreciation of ag as a vital part of our community.
Thank you for your support of Sonoma County farms, ranches, producers, and purveyors in our collective mission of preserving Farms Forever!
Carmen Snyder, Executive Director
Ellen Cavalli, Program Manager
Vince Trotter, President
Lauren Bowne, Secretary
Andrea Krout, Treasurer
Karen Bianchi-Moreda, Director
Alexandra Fox, Director
Rick Williams, Director