Sunday, October 12, 2014

Toddler Favorites: Full Circle Farm


We visited Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale for the first time this morning, and were delighted to find a neat under-the-radar gem! Located just a few blocks off Homestead Road, right by Raynor Park, this is a full, working CSA farm, with rows and rows of fruits, veggies and herbs, an orchard of apple, plum and apricot trees, a couple of chicken coops and a super cool Children's Garden.

We went for the pumpkin patch and corn maze, but had a ton more fun touring the farm itself. 

First, we hit the main chicken coop. The chickens are very outgoing, clearly thinking that anyone who approaches the gate is there to bring them food. (There is a second chicken coop in the Children's Garden with four diverse chickens, each of which has a name/picture on a chalkboard -- playing "Spot the chicken" with your toddler can be fun.)


Next, we wandered over to the Children's Garden, passing the orchards on our right and pausing to notice the dozens of bee hives the farm maintains.


Just seeing all the veggies growing was neat for Toddler X -- it was fun to point out plants that we frequently eat, let him feel leaves, bark and stalks, and touch some of the herbs to give him a whiff of their scent.

 

The Children's Garden is, without a doubt, the highlight of the farm, and the dirt pile for "exploratory digging" is the highlight of the Children's Garden. 


An earthen mound, the sole purpose of which is to allow kids to get dirty, digging and experimenting and pouring -- what a brilliant idea!


There are holes (they look like rodent holes -- not sure if they really are, or if they're man-made) along the sides, just begging for sticks to be poked and rocks to be stuffed in them, and there are various pieces of farm debris near the hole on the top, just waiting to be tossed about, dissected or squished. 


Toddler X slid on his bottom down the side of the hill, but rolling would probably work too. The whole experience was ridiculously messy, but absolutely awesome.


The pumpkin patch isn't extensive, and the pumpkins were grown there in the garden, so they have a lot more...character, we'll say, than the ones you'll find at commercial farms. We ended up finding one really nice one, but only after picking up a few that were kinda squishy. You pay by weight, and the charge is reasonable. 


There are also small commercially-grown pumpkins available for kids to decorate. These are the typical grocery store-type pumpkins, but great for kids to attack with a wide array of paints (including glow in the dark and sparkles) and some stickers. The little guys are $2 each or $3 with painting, but if you buy one of the big guys from the field, you can paint it for free. 


The corn maze is pretty funny -- really just a few cutouts in their corn field, with an occasional plastic hand or bone painted with red paint. The ground is VERY uneven and there is significant undergrowth, so not good for young toddlers and definitely not for flip flops (trust me on that one). You can skip that and spend more time enjoying the farm.

They also have u-pick cherry tomatoes and herbs -- selection may be limited, depending on whatever is available that day.

Finally, the CSA farm stand has some really nice squash, kale, garlic and a few other things right now, along with local honey. Looking forward to cooking up some squash tonight!

Overall, definitely worth a visit -- if not for Halloween, then certainly at some point in the year. The experiential learning opportunities are endless, and no doubt change with the seasons.


Important tips: Wear closed toe shoes (the ground is almost all wood chips) and put your toddler in clothes you don't mind getting dirty (Toddler X was FILTHY after playing on the dirt pile -- but TOTALLY worth it!). 

Details: 
  • The farm is open for visitors to check out Tuesday-Sunday. Following are the hours:
    • Tuesday-Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    • Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - Dusk (West Gate only)
    • Sunday: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
  • The Farm Stand (where you can buy the farm's produce) is only open on Fridays from 3:00-6:00 p.m. and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. The seasonal pumpkin patch is only open to the public two during those hours. 
  • Admission is free, though they welcome donations (it's almost entirely volunteer-run).
  • Parking (in lot or on street) is ample and free.
Super fun day. We'll be back!

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