Farm Trails 2022 in Review
Charting Our Path to Our 50th Anniversary
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 49 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 2022, and look forward to our 50th anniversary in 2023—and the next 50 years of cultivating community together.

All of us at Farm Trails thank you for your support, and wish you a happy, healthy, and abundant New Year! Cheers!
2022 Along the Farm Trails: A New Normal
With the turmoils of the pandemic (mostly) behind us, Farm Trails and its members forged a path to our new normal in 2022. Here is a brief overview of our initiatives and sneak peeks at what 2023 has in store!

We began 2022 with a commitment to resuming all of our normal programming, and thanks to the support of our membership and of you, we did it! Highlights included the following:
  • Welcomed 15 new members to the Farm Trails family, including flower, egg, and vegetable farms, farm stays, and wineries. You can view all of our members online.
  • Published the 49th anniversary print edition of the Farm Trails Map & Guide, the effort that began it all. We printed 22,000 copies, and distributed it via Made Local magazine and at visitors centers and other locations throughout Sonoma County.
  • Brought back our beloved Blossoms, Bees & Barnyard Babies Spring Tour, where nearly 4,500 visitors traveled to our members for farm tours, workshops, demonstrations, special tastings, and farm animals.
  • Organized the second edition of our 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.
  • Organized our annual Weekend Along the Farm Trails Fall Tour, with nearly 5,000 folks visiting our county for pumpkin patches, special farm and ranch tours, cheese tastings, hands-on workshops, and more harvest fun.
  • Celebrated Holidays Along the Farm Trails with dedicated email newsletters, social media, online map and guide, plus a dynamic events calendar, to help you mark this festive season with farm-fresh holiday food, drink, gifts, events, and much more.

We look forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary with all of our regular programming and a brand-new Map & Guide. Save the following dates:

  • Spring 2023: Publication of the 50th Anniversary Map & Guide
  • May 6 & 7, 2023: Blossoms, Bees & Barnyard Babies Spring Tour
  • August 12 & 13, 2023: 50th Anniversary Gravenstein Apple Fair
  • August to October 2023: Apple Trail
  • October 14 & 15, 2023: Weekend Along the Farm Trails Fall Tour
  • November 12, 2023 to January 1, 2024: Holidays Along the Farm Trails
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.

While the pandemic forced us to cancel the Gravenstein Apple Fair in 2020 and 2021, we were thrilled to bring back the Fair in 2022—along with a brand-new website! It was so gratifying to welcome back 14,000 of our community members to celebrate this cherished event.

We danced to top regional musical talent including The Brothers Comatose, The Musers, Eki'Shola, and Onye and the Messengers. We enjoyed all things Gravenstein, from fresh apple fritters to local cider. We met cute farm animals and learned about cow milking, beekeeping, home fermentation, and more. Kids of all ages had a blast with piglet races, tractor pedal pulls, face painting, apple juggling contests, and ag games. We filled up on the tastiest farm-fresh food and drink, shopped for artisan crafts, and relaxed in the new VIP area.

We also succeeded with our greening efforts. Since 2013, we have worked hard to make this the "Greenest Little Fair in Sonoma County," and our zero-waste initiatives made the 2022 Gravenstein Apple Fair our most sustainable one yet! Led by our Green Team and with the help of dedicated volunteers and sponsor-partners, we hit our target of 95% zero-waste by using real silverware, reusable glassware, and truly compostable serviceware; banning plastic bottles; offering filtered water stations; recycling all possible materials; diverting all food waste to a local pig farm; and donating surplus food to food pantries. At the November 17th Zero Waste Sonoma Board of Directors meeting, the countywide board responsible for waste diversion education recognized Sonoma County Farm Trails with a first of its kind Green Resolution recognizing the nonprofit’s outstanding service and commitment to the community and environment. 

We are already beginning the preparations for the next Gravenstein Apple Fair on August 12 & 13, 2023. This will be mark the 50th anniversary of the Fair, and we are excited to celebrate this monumental milestone with all the wonderful apples, local food and drink, music, kids' activities, and ag fun you know and love. Stay tuned for more details in the new year!
We know that farming is hard work, and it takes a village to make it a successful endeavor. To that end, we focused on two projects to support our ag community:

  • After launching the Farm Trails Foundation, our 501(c)3 sister nonprofit organization, in 2021, we were able to deliver on its mission 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 funded four historic scholarships for ag youth, ag college students, and aspiring farmers in partnership with Sonoma County Farm Bureau and Santa Rosa Junior College. The Foundation also distributed 160 Gravenstein Apple Fair tickets to local farm workers and their families. We're so grateful to our donors who've supported the Foundation this year! If you'd like to support our mission, please donate today by clicking here.
  • We partnered with UC Cooperative Extension and CAFF to present a free webinar series for new and established farmers called Agritourism & Direct Sales: Best Practices in COVID Times and Beyond. To view the webinars, click here.
Happy New Year from all of us at Farm Trails!
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, Membership & Marketing Manager
Pam Davis, GAF Operations Manager
Christine Margetts, Bookkeeper

Vince Trotter, President
Lauren Bowne, Secretary
Andrea Krout, Treasurer
Karen Bianchi-Moreda, Director
Alexandra Fox, Director
Alan Siegle, Director