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Local food and agriculture focus of farm festival

Local food and agriculture focus of farm festival

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POSTED June 4, 2010 7:30 p.m.

The fourth annual Pick and Gather at Riverdance Farms and Merced River Fair offers attendees the chance to reconnect with where their food comes from this weekend at a farm festival.

This is the sixth annual Pick and Gather at Riverdance Farms in Livingston, and it is hosted by local farmers, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, East Merced Resource Conservation District, and Valley Land Alliance. Cindy Lashbrook of Riverdance Farms said that the festival offers people a chance to get out on the farm, and also appreciate the Valley landscape.

Festival attendees will have a chance to pick their own fruit, including organic blueberries and cherries. There will also be workshops throughout the day, including presentations on hedgerows, native plants and native bees. Community Alliance with Family Farmers will be on hand to answer any questions about biological farming and local food systems.

The goal of CAFF is to advocate for family farmers and sustainable agriculture. They participate in activities like the Pick and Gather to help educate the public about buying local produce and supporting the Valley’s growers. They also try to use farming methods that incorporate more native plants and help reduce runoff into waterways.

Down at Merced River Fair the UC Merced River Research group will give demonstrations of river monitoring, and there will be more workshops including fly fishing demonstrations. Children and adults will observe native animals, and there will be a bird walk.

“Families with children will be really glad they came,” Lashbrook said.

Kids can pick their own fruit, go for a hayride, or visit the petting zoo. Lashbrook said that many children have never experienced a day on the farm, and they might enjoy just taking in the sights and sounds.

Anyone interested in enjoying the tastes of the valley can purchase food tickets.

“Evening events are really for the foodies,” Lashbrook said.

Fresh food connoisseurs can enjoy the “Tastes of the River Valley” event at Riverdance Farms from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight. There will be local wine and beer tasting for adults over 21 years old.

There will also be overnight camping for families and individuals who bring their own tent and camping supplies.

“We do something really cool at night. The local astrology club brings out their solar scope and everyone can look at the stars,” Lashbrook said.

Pick and Gather at Riverdance Farms starts at 10 a.m. today. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for children. Sunday tickets are half price, and the laid back Sunday events run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tastes of the River Valley runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. today and food tickets are $30 ($25 with day entry.)  Camping tickets cost $10.

For more information about the event, or to purchase tickets, visit




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