Solano Grows Almost Everything
If you’re on a quest to eat fresh, you live in the right place. From apricots to zucchini, dairy to nuts, just about everything is grown right here in Solano County. Well, almost everything…
“Coffee, tea, sugar and salt are probably the only things not grown here,” says Ruth Begell of Slow Food Solano, one of many nonprofit organizations working to promote local agriculture, support local growers and increase people’s access to food that is fresh, tasty, seasonal and wholesome.
With more than 500 growers here, according to Solano County Agriculture Department, you’ll find a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey, olive oil, meats and dairy.
Since the 1850s, Solano County farmers and ranchers have reaped the rewards of our county’s Mediterranean-like climate and varied geography that includes 10 farming regions, from the Dixon Ridge to the Jepson Prairie, from the Suisun, Lagoon and Pleasants valleys to the Montezuma Hills.
Hot summers, cool breezes and the occasional fog from the Bay Area helps nurture everything from wine grapes to melons and water-melons, strawberries, lettuce, broccoli, kale, chard, pumpkins and tomatoes. Vacaville, with its warmer summers, has for generations been known for the quality of its stone fruits, such as apricots, plums and peaches, and its almonds and walnuts.
In the valleys and hillsides, cattle and dairy cows graze and pigs and chickens feed. Dixon is world-renowned for its lamb, and olive trees produce award-winning oils. Solano is also home to a ranch that grows bay leaves and another that cultivates endive in a darkened warehouse.
Farmers’ markets abound, some even run year-round. Or, you can select from what’s in season by visiting a produce stand—there are many located in Suisun Valley, along Leisure Town Road or North Orchard Avenue in Vacaville, or along Interstate 80 in Dixon. Find a list at www.suisunvalley.com/plan-your-visit/farm-stands.
Craving organic eggs, free-range chickens or locally raised lamb, pigs or beef? A number of ranches sell freshly harvested meats; many are members of Slow Food Solano, or Solano Grown, another non-profit that works to promote local growers. (See sidebar.)
You can grow your own fruits and vegetables at one of several local community gardens.
Promoting Local Growers
Promoting Local GrowersIn addition to the work done by Solano County’s Agriculture Department, a number of nonprofit organizations are working hard to promote local farmers, including those listed below.
Solano Grown is a partnership of Solano County farmers and ranchers committed to producing and marketing an array of high quality agricultural products. www.solanogrown.org
Slow Food Solano is a local chapter of the non-profit Slow Food USA. The group’s mission is to help create and sustain a food system that is good, clean, and fair for all. www.slowfoodsolano.org.
Want to grow your own vegetables but don’t have the space? Join a community garden! Here are some for your consideration:
Benicia Community Gardens
There are two in this city. There is no charge for maintaining a raised bed. The Avant Garden is located in downtown Benicia at 1st and D streets. The second is the Swenson Garden at Military and East 2nd. For information, visit www.beniciatrees.org/about-us/benicia-community-gardens-our-community-gardening-partner.
Suisun Community Gardens
There are 10 x 10 plots available for a $30 fee. For more information, call (707) 421-7200.
Solano Community College
The college’s Horticulture Club has a community garden, open to those who belong to the club, located near Building 1000. Call (707) 975-6856 for information.
Benicia Certified Farmers Market
First Street between B St & D
Thursdays • 4 –8 p.m. • April–October
Dixon Certified Farmer’s Market
East B Street between First & Second
Thursdays • 4 –8 p.m. • April–October
Fairfield Certified Farmers Market
Jefferson Street at Texas
Thursdays • 3–7 p.m. • May–October
The Green Valley Ag Conservancy Farmers Market
Green Valley Road & Vintage Lane, Fairfield
First Sunday • noon–4 p.m.• June–October
Rio Vista Certified Farmers Market
Main Street, between 2nd and 3rd
Saturdays • 9a.m.–1p.m. • June–November
Vacaville Certified Farmers Market
300 Block of Main Street
Saturdays • 8 a.m.–noon • May–October
Vallejo Certified Farmers Market
Georgia Street, between 300 & 400 blocks
Saturdays • 8 a.m.–1p.m. • Year-round
* Source: www.solanogrown.org