Visiting the farm

One way many growers in the region try to bring tourists and
business to their farms is the Country Crossroads Farmers to You
map, a long-time collaborative effort of farmers in Santa Clara and
Santa Cruz counties. The 30th edition, scheduled for a spring
release, will for the first time also feature farmers in San Benito
and Monterey counties.
One way many growers in the region try to bring tourists and business to their farms is the Country Crossroads Farmers to You map, a long-time collaborative effort of farmers in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. The 30th edition, scheduled for a spring release, will for the first time also feature farmers in San Benito and Monterey counties.

“It’s a great tool to educate the non-farming public about where farms are and what you can get there,” said Jenny Derry, executive director of the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau. “There’s a lot of people in the Bay Area interested in coming down here and going from farm to farm to see how food is grown.”

The Crossroads map shows the location of all the farmers who participate, a harvest calendar and a guide to finding particular fruits and vegetables. Every year, about 60,000 copies are distributed to hotels and tourist bureaus, and at events like those celebrating Earth Day and Arbor Day.

Derry said the maps are good resource for attracting children, especially home-schooled children.

“This is something that’s really big in Europe, visiting farms as a form of tourism,” she said. “I think it’s going to grow here and we want to be on the edge of that.”

More than 100 growers in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties were listed on last year’s map, offering everything from jam and honey to herbs and kindling wood, and more than 100 products in all. So far this year, seven farmers in San Benito County have joined the collaborative, but there are no new members from Monterey County, which has many more large-scale farm operations and is the third biggest agriculture county in the state.

“Quite honestly, most of our agriculture is very productive,” said Bob Perkins, executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau. “It’s not an issue of solvency, but the importance of this kind of thing is to expose the public to agriculture. Country Crossroads is a great idea.”

Bob Swank, of Swank Farms in Hollister, said he joined the collaborative because he had a little extra money this year and wanted to take advantage of another avenue to attract people to his farm, where he will open a new produce stand this summer.

“Our goal this year is to get some field trips of kids here to help them experience agriculture,” Swank said.

LJB farms on the Gilroy-San Martin border has been listed on the map for several years. The farm has a store that’s open from June through Christmas and features the variety of fruits and vegetables grown on LJB fields as well as dried fruit and nuts.

Judy Bonino, who owns LJB with her husband, Louie, said she hands out a lot of maps at her farm, but she’s not sure how much business it brings.

“A lot of people say that’s where they get a good portion of their business, but I’ve never taken a poll,” Bonino said. “The majority of our business comes from word of mouth.”

The 30th edition of the Country Crossroads map will available this spring:

Area hotels including

• Morgan Hill Inn, 16250 S. Monterey Rd.

• Best Western, 16525 Condit Rd., Morgan Hill

• Forest Park Inn, 375 Leavesley Rd., Gilroy

• Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, 7471 Monterey St.

• Gilroy Visitor’s Bureau, 7780 Monterey St.

• Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce, 17450 Monterey St.

• Local farms on the Crossroads map

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