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.
A certified Bay Area Green Business and a peddler of greenery, Fuji Garden Center raises a wide variety of rare plants, exotic trees, and flowering delights in its expansive nursery. Floras running the gamut of Santa Barbara daisies ($6.50/1 gal. pot) to ornate Crimson Queen trees ($38.50) convert sunlight into energy and dirt patches into alluring gnome traps. Planting compost ($25/yd.) sets out a buffet table for hungry plants, inviting Tuscan Blue rosemary ($18/5 gal. pot) and lotus flowers ($6.75/1 gal. pot) to the feast. Garden keepers can also treat foliage to premium potting soil ($45/yd.), nutrient-packed to fuel any plant's extreme-sport-centered lifestyle.
The professional debris-disposal teams at Dump Runners can load up and lift away any and all types of unwanted refuse taking up space inside homes or on lawns. Homeowners can get rid of spare sheetrock and shingles left over after remodeling projects or overambitious birdhouse designs. The crews cart off all sorts of loose lumber trimmed while landscaping, as well as old appliances—everything from refrigerators and old sofas to dressers.