Monday, August 28, 2006

Family Farm Days Draws Bay Area Visitors

Family Farm Days Draws Bay Area Visitors
By Audrey Wong

Friends CJ Hillbrand, 8, and Griffin Ott, 8, head to the barn at Parker Farms with fresh tomatoes. (Christine Baker/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD - Brian Chew was jumping for joy over watermelon seeds and other things he saw in Suisun Valley on Sunday.

The 8-year-old San Francisco resident spat his way into first place in a watermelon seed spitting contest at The Vegetable Stand on Rockville Road. Afterwards he proudly pointed to the seed lying on the asphalt as he posed for a victory photo.

"This is very cool!" Brian enthused of the contest and other Fun Family Farm Days activities.

Brian's mom Lisa Chew said the family wanted to get out of the city for a while so they decided to sample rural life through Fun Family Farm Days. Participants follow a map of Suisun Valley and visit local farms and businesses featured on the map. Each stop offers various entertainment such as chances to pick produce, tours of orchards, crafts, even Taiko drumming and live llamas.

"It's fun, it's like exploring, it's like a scavenger hunt," said Joe Gordon of Orinda, as he browsed heirloom tomatoes at Parker Farms Produce. "It's educational and fun. It's better than an amusement park. You learn a little bit more."

Gordon's daughter, Kylie, 8, beamed over the jack-o-lantern planter she got at Parker Farms. While she didn't like tomatoes, Kylie was willing to pick them with her father.

The Suisun Valley Fund sponsored the event in hopes of drawing tourists to the "Harvest Trails," said Tracy Ellison, organizer and Suisun Valley Agricultural Commissioner. Unlike other agricultural attractions, visitors don't have to drive far in the Suisun Valley to see all the sights, Ellis said. They can travel in a loop around the valley to experience the wineries, produce stands, art galleries and other attractions.

Suzy Parker of Parker Farms said she saw many new faces Sunday.

The event surprised one Bay Area resident.

"I had no idea it was this nice next to I-80," said Lisa Stromberg of Berkeley. "People are really friendly at all the stops."

Sunday's event was the first of three Fun Family Farm Days. The next ones are on Sept. 24 and Oct. 22. Participants will offer different activities in the following family farm days.

For more information about Fun Family Farm Days log onto

Reach Audrey Wong at 427-6951 or

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