Field Trip: Oak Hill Farm

It’s right about this time of year that I begin thinking of meandering over to Oak Hill Farm, not only for their abundant choices of splendid organic vegetables, but because they have an annual tradition of creating the most wonderful altar in honor of Day of the Dead, which we are inclined in California to celebrate, our Waspy customs being marinated with the prior (and current) inhabitants, our Hispanic companion citizens. It’s a rich melding. So it was with happy anticipation that I played hooky on Thursday and drove down county to Sonoma, out through Valley of the Moon, into the long drive of Oak Hill Farm, parking just outside the big red barn that serves as store to the many wonderful creations of the farm.

Oak Hill Farm is over fifty years old, and consists of 45 acres of productive farmland set on 700 acres of protected wildlands. Each time I visit my spirits are enriched enormously and Thursday was no exception. I stepped inside the red barn hoping the annual tradition would still be intact. I was not disappointed!

A very creative addition this year were wonderful “curtains” of roped marigolds that framed each side of the altar–an orange curtain on the left; a golden curtain on the right.

This stringing of marigolds draws from the Hispanic tradition of wearing marigold necklaces in honor of the departed.

Handily, Oak Hill Farm had a flyer for customers explaining a bit about The Day of the Dead. It reads, “The Day of the Dead is a tradition started by the Aztecs. It is based on the belief that right after the harvest, the souls of the dead (including pets) can visit their relatives in the living world. Candlelight, vibrant colors, lively music, fragrant flowers, spicy foods and cherished mementos guide souls to their specially prepared altar, so they can eat and visit with their family.”

Indeed, the folks at Oak Hill Farm had lovingly placed photos of their departed loved ones on the altar with attending candles present. It was very endearing, I must say.

Turning my attention to the red barn’s other treasures, I was overwhelmed with the beauty and aesthetics in which I found myself surrounded. This same loving care and artistry is extended to every corner of the red barn store. It is a photographer’s dream, though I must confess the subdued lighting was a challenge almost beyond my skills. I share with you the best of what I was able to capture.


Gorgeous bouquets just adjacent to the altar…

Buckets of freshly picked zinnias


Organic vegetables beautifully displayed


Wreathes for which Oak Hill Farm is known and cherished

Festive seasonal pomegranates

Rich display of turban gourds with sunflower heads

Mini gourds on mirror

Lovely, simple, autumnal centerpiece

You can imagine that by now I was nearly sated with beauty! However, I can never go to Oak Hill Farm without poking my nose into the other half of the red barn, which is technically not open to the public, but, hello? the door is open and I have a camera in my hand. This is where much of the magic begins.

Doesn’t this look inviting? And here’s one more, where herbs are drying. Don’t you just love this?

Yes, Otto and Ann Teller, creators of Oak Hill Farm (Otto now being honored with altar, I must add) had a dream. Its magic prevails on every level. I am grateful for their vision and hard work and due diligence to have created such a wonderful oasis of beauty and purity of spirit. I’m glad I am able to share a bit with you. I now prepare to leave the farm. By the register I am captured again by the whimsy and creativity of these sugar skeletons made by local children to raise funds for their school.

Preparing to leave, I step outside and breathe deeply. Rain is in the air. I allow myself time to ponder the field adjacent to the red barn, admiring the amaranth and dipping sunflowers.

I love this area. I lived close by for many years. I turn to my car and my patiently awaiting Border Collies, Ruby and Conner, and head on down the winding road. I’ll be back next year. For sure.

Love and seasonal blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

26 Responses to “Field Trip: Oak Hill Farm”

  1. What a lovely spot to visit. Those marigold chains or strings — what a spectacular idea! It would make a great Thanksgiving decoration!

  2. Hi, Nancy! Yes, I was thinking same! Tucked that one away in some creative inner rolodex for future visitation! Thanks for the pick! Kathryn xoxo

  3. Beautiful!! Oak Hill Farm is such a Treasure! Thank you for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Love you,
    Antonia

  4. What a lovely farm rich in tradition and beautiful blooms & veggies.

  5. How lovely and vivid, dear Kathryn. I felt as though I was beside you on this lovely photo trip adventure … stunning fall colors so perfect for autumn. Today we celebrate ‘All Saints Day’ and making it even lovelier, my youngest son’s birthday (yes, I’m baking … a rich chocolate pound cake beckons from the oven as I write.) Hugs XO

  6. I think those marigold curtains are amazing it must take a lot of patience to do that – and alot of marigolds!!

  7. Hi, Antonia–I look forward to visiting Oak Hill Farm with you! Love, Mom xoxoxo

  8. Welcome, Racquel, Yes, Oak Hill Farm is a wonderful role model in healthy sustainability. Thanks for the visit! Kathryn xoxo

  9. Hi, Joey! Oh,that chocolate pound cake sounds so yummy! Happy Birthday to your son! Love, Kathryn

  10. Helen, welcome. I don’t think those marigolds take as long as one would think as they are so big! But,yes, you certainly need to have them in abundance to consider! I’d like that, wouldn’t you? Maybe next year!
    Kathryn xoxo

  11. Sounds like a very nice day.

  12. Hi,Deb! I would, indeed, have to chalk it up to a Very Nice Day. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the visit. Kathryn xox

  13. Kathryn as usual your words send us on a path in our minds and in our hearts. Today we stopped by our local yarn shop to feed my addiction (I had to at least LOOK at the new yarns!) and they were having a Day of the Dead celebration with cakes and candies and an altar where visitors could put pictures or remembrances. It is the first of these celebrations we have encountered and found it to be very comforting. In particular, with the multiple deaths we have encountered in the past two years, it gave us a kind of permission to feel that pain and leave it there. Thank you for bringing some of that back to us through your own journey.

    Peace to you as always…
    The Shibaguyz

  14. Hi, Shibaguyz! I’m so glad you had this experience and that you took advantage of what it had to offer you both. Thanks for visiting. I always love it when you come by. Kathryn xoxo

  15. What a beautiful, colorful place. Thank you for sharing it with us. I just got home from Austin’s Dia de los Muertos parade, which was so much fun. I’ll have a post up later.

  16. Hi, Pam! That is so cool that Austin has a parade! I look forward to your post! Glad you liked the Oak Hill Farm jaunt! Kathryn xoxo

  17. Just stunning…I want to go! Farming is such a feast for the senses…thanks for sharing!

  18. Hello, InadvertentFarmer! “Feast for the senses” is a perfect description! I barely knew which way to point my camera. Everything was vying for capture! Kathryn xoox

  19. I see why you’re drawn there this time of year Kathryn. What a marvelous setting for the farm and its rich traditions.

  20. Hi, Linda, Yes, it’s a blessing for the whole community! Wish you could all go! I bet you have something in your community equally as beautiful. Kathryn xoxo

  21. What a wonderful visit! I feel Like I was right there.
    I love the rain in the air…you have captured this. Isn’t it wonderful we had our first real rain!
    I love the day of the dead display. Had they lived in Mexico? they certainly captured the color and yes, celebration of it all. I love the strung marigolds.
    What a perfect barn…and the hundred year old eucalyptus is perfect as is the amaranth.
    Thanks for a wonder excursion! How fun ๐Ÿ™‚
    Best regards,
    Philip

  22. Hi, Philip! It is, indeed, truly wonderful to be experiencing the first real rain. It makes all indoor activity completely different! (I just baked and pureed kuri squash and pumpkin brought home from Oak Hill Farm!)
    I just called Oak Hill Farm to try to verify what I’d always heard–that Ann’s son had begun the altar tradition there. The woman in the office had heard the same thing, and also illuminated that Ann has some South American roots. She’s very fair, so I’d say Spanish roots. So maybe that would be why. And, yes, thank you for acknowledging that beautiful old eucalyptus–one of my favorite treasures of Sonoma County.Thanks for the visit! Kathryn xoxo

  23. Thanks for the tour.
    Color everywhere!
    Enjoying your blog…very creative.

  24. Welcome, Patsi! Thanks for the visit. So glad you are enjoying being here! Kathryn xox

  25. Hiya Kathryn,

    You seem to be top of the tree continuously ;-), so I thought I’d better take a look.
    Not undeservedly.

    Zinnias en masse as cutflowers and marigolds on a string: wonderful.

  26. Welcome, Jocodeane! I’m happy you came by for the look-see and seem pleased. ๐Ÿ™‚ I returned the favor but was unable to leave a comment as the verification window held only a question mark, so I got stopped in my intentional tracks. I’ll come visit again, though. Kathryn xox

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