On Sunday, September 25, the Farmers’ Market and Farms of Amador held their annual fundraiser event, a tour of several farms in the Camanche/Jackson Valley area, which ended with dinner at Big Horse, Little Cattle Ranch. Despite unseasonable heat and the last-minute cancellation of one of the tour stops– the Lake Amador fish hatchery– the event was quite successful, with everyone reporting they had a good time.

When asked how he liked the tour, Keith Raddatz, who attended with Eva Lawrence, replied, “I liked the great diversity in ways of raising flocks and crops. I learned a lot, and the tour really helped Eva, who is homesick for Kansas and enjoyed seeing the farm animals.” Another attendee reported that the tour was “fun and quirky,” and was one of several people who expressed disappointment at not being able to see the fish hatchery.

Rave reviews were heard for the dinner, which was held in “Betty’s Gleann,” named for the late hostess of the ranch, Betty Stacey. The lovely spot along a small creek was given shade by oak trees, and atmosphere by the nearby “little cattle”– the Irish Dexter beef cattle raised on the ranch. Atmosphere was also provided by singer/guitarist James May, who played an array of folksy country tunes throughout the evening. The delicious dinner was catered by Cafe de Coco of Jackson, who started with a bean and vegetable soup, then had local pork cooked carnitas-style, served with rice and beans, and tortillas warmed on a fire pit grill, along with side dishes of sweet potato and fruit salad. The meal was made up of about 80% local ingredients, with the pork from the Vicini family in Plymouth, and the produce for the soup and the fruit salad from Motherlode Harvest, a local foods cooperative sponsored by Farms of Amador. Dessert was provided by one of the event organizers: strawberry trifle

and chocolate meringue cookies, also using some local ingredients, such as the eggs and strawberries.

Attendees enjoyed local wines, water, soda, and cold beer to beat the heat and complement the Mexican food, and “cowboy coffee” accompanied dessert.

The event ended with an extensive array of raffle prizes and silent auction items being awarded to lucky ticketholders and bidders. Highlights were Pat Noll of Glencoe winning the gorgeous quilt made and donated by an anonymous supporter of the farmers’ market, and Gary Reinoehl of Pioneer winning the basket of local products from the farmers’ market and 10 pounds of ground beef from Big Horse ranch owner Ray Stacey. The raffle and auction were organized by long-time market supporter Katherine Venturelli of Fiddletown, who did a fabulous job.

One tourgoer expressed regret that she hadn’t stayed longer to enjoy the balmy evening and sit around the campfire with Ray and others. She said, “I’ll definitely stay longer next year!”

Proceeds from the event will help pay for the farmers’ market’s expenses, such as advertising, licences, signs, management and musician fees, and state fees required for being a Certified Farmers’ Market. They will also help fund Farms of Amador projects, including local school gardens, Motherlode Harvest, and an advertising brochure for member farms.

The Farmers’ Market and Farms of Amador thank the volunteers and the tour farms that made this event possible.

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