Tucked between the hills of Northern California in the scenic Carmel Valley, horseback-riding trainer Toni Venza and her staff help equestrians master the reins. The stable offers lessons for riders of all abilities, from beginners learning to walk, trot, and canter to experts competing in hunter-jumper competitions. A trainer for nearly three decades, Toni imparts wisdom on various learning styles through constructive feedback delivered calmly and clearly to help pupils feel comfortable in the saddle.
The Garrone family, now in its fourth generation, has been selling their homegrown organic mushrooms at Bay Area farmers’ markets for over fifty years. Proudly keeping the tradition alive, they ship orders in from their own 60,000-square foot farm in Monterey Bay, where the steady ocean breeze and northern coastal fog preserve ideal growing conditions.
In addition to filling up market stands, they stock their storefront operation, Far West Fungi, with 42 varieties of mushroom. They also line the shelves with exotic food products such as saffron tagliatelle, truffle honey, domestic fennel pollen, and Tahitian vanilla bean. Here, customers can load up on specialty mushrooms in person or opt for next day air delivery via the online shop. The internet store also allows shoppers to peruse all manner of truffle-related products, including oils, sauces, and oversized foam fingers that read “down with morels”.
Since 1982, three generations of a Santa Cruz farming family have opened the farm’s gates between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to equip fellow community members with bountiful white and douglas firs for the holiday season. Families walk the fields to pick out their perfect tree and browse the selection of fresh wreaths and local honey, after which they set up a brought lunch at one of the picnic tables and enjoy the view.
For more than three decades, ABC Tree Farms have provided the Bay Area with seasonal fun October through December. Summer inspires the first round of recreation in the form of Summer Fun Zones packed with inflatable bounce houses masquerading as castles and slides and fresh harvests of local cherries, peaches, melons, and other fruits. During October, they run 20 pumpkin-themed locations, some of which also feature inflatable bounce houses and other attractions. Once Thanksgiving passes, groves of Christmas trees spring up, having made their way south from Oregon and Washington. There they will stand until Christmas Eve, hoping to decorate homes or become the model that inspires a revamped line of evergreen air fresheners.
Torres Landscaping keeps lawns green and healthy through an array of lawn-maintenance and landscaping services. The outfit’s licensed and insured team restores lawns to wellness with mowing and edging and then blows the area free of grass clippings and Sasquatch toenails. For larger greenery overhauls, the company can also remodel exterior landscaping with services such as planting trees and installing sod, lighting, and waterfalls. Pressure washing and fence repair are also available to upgrade lawn ornaments.
At Maloney's Horses and Ponies, majestic steeds graze and buck in open pastures backed by a landscape of picturesque rolling hills and whispering ocean waves. Standing in the sea breeze is Cheryl Maloney, the proprietor and head riding instructor. Before opening her school, Cheryl taught throughout the United States and England, most recently directing the Stanford Riding School for 12 years. She is joined by fellow instructors Sara Williams, Sarah Platshon, and Jack Gosse-Fuchs; together, the team leads lessons in English-style riding for students of all ages and skill levels.
During lessons, students learn the fundamentals of riding?from sitting in a basic balancing position to standing while singing the horse anthem?along with necessary horsemanship skills such as grooming and tacking. The lessons take place in Maloney's all-weather back sand arena, where picturesque ocean views frame a colorful jumping course, and a front arena dedicated to dressage and flat exercises. The school also has access to more than 7 miles of beach trails that lead riders on explorations of the bluffs or trots down to the surf. The school also boards horses, sells and leases new mounts, and holds summer camps for riders up to 15 years old.