Central Coast more than just a place for surf, sun and sand

April 28th, 2016

Did you know the Central Coast is more than just a place for surf, sun and sand? Of course, there’s wine country, but there’s an agriculture of a different kind that makes up one of the areas biggest industries—farming. While California is considered one of the most productive and diverse food producers in the US, it’s the Central Coast’s unique topography and climate that makes it a leader in the state for both productivity and diversity of crops. The best part for visitors during springtime means an abundance of fresh produce and the chance to explore and participate in some true hands-on farm experiences. Whether it’s embarking on a u-pick experience or milking goats to make cheese, you are sure to enjoy any of these local favorites.

Morro Creek Ranch:

About 2 miles east of Highway 1, this avocado ranch sprawls across 348 acres along Highway 41. The store itself is just off the road and offers a quick stop-over and the friendly staff are always happy to share some of the farm’s history with visitors. While the farm exclusively produces Haas avocados, the store also offers avocado-based oils and moisturizers, spices and condiments. This year the farm has also begun to offer avocados year round by including produce from other California farms during our off-season (Feb-May).

Jack Creek Farms:

Jack Creek Farms sits in the heart of the Paso Robles wine country and offers a great place to stop for a picnic or if you are traveling with little ones. The farm stand, which is modeled to look like an old west town, sits just off of Highway 46, 15 miles east of Cayucos and 6 miles west of Paso Robles. Out front is a display of antique farm equipment. Animal lovers can get an eyeful of hens, bunnies and ducks as well. Produce and local products are sold inside the country store: free-range eggs, honey, freshly ground whole-wheat flour, juices, gelato, baked goods and fudge. Crops grown on the farm are available for you to hand pick when in season.

Stepladder Creamery:

Available by appointment only, the creamery is part of Stepladder Ranch, a third-generation farm tucked into the hills between Cambria and Hearst Castle. The farm grows a variety of citrus and rare subtropical fruit, some of which laces the long drive in. At the creamery, every aspect of the cheese making process happens on site from raising the goats to making the cheese. They produce four types of cheese: chevre, rocky butte (aged four months), paso vino (which is soaked in local Syrah), and Cabrillo (made primarily in the fall when the goat’s milk yields a stronger character). If you miss the opportunity to visit, you can usually find their cheeses at local restaurants and cheese shops. If you do get the chance to visit, the farm is a beautiful site to see. The winding country lane has it all: babbling brook, picturesque pastures filled with friendly quadrupeds, wild flowers and culminates with an incredible view of the coast.

The Abalone Farm:

While the word farm doesn’t traditionally evoke visions of salt water and sand, that’s exactly what this farm is all about. Abalone is not widely known and a bit on the expensive side, due in part to the high demand among those who know about it. In fact, due to overfishing, the majority of the world’s abalone is supplied by farms just like the one found here in Cayucos. The farm is periodically open to tours. Give them a call or check their website for updated information. Tours include the process of breeding, raising and harvesting these lovely and delicious creatures.

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