Years ago, there was a working farm called La Milpa Organica in the foothills of North Escondido. It was at the end of a dusty dirt road, just a few hundred yards from Interstate 15. I went to a vegan potluck on those farm grounds. The land was raw, and it seemed like this is how it must have been back in the original Woodstock days.
The potluck was such a good time that I vowed to go back, but it stayed on my to-do list for a long time.
It seems the farm went under after the economy tanked in 2008. But in March 2011, Stone Brewing Co. acquired the land. Everybody's heard about the massive brewery and restaurant Stone has in Escondido. But not a lot of folks know the beer company reconstituted the 19-acre farm, and that it's now open to the public.
Today, it's an organic food source for Stone, and also a quaint locale for picnics, guided tours and musical events that feature local talent.
It was a wonderful experience re-visiting the farm, and seeing well-tended livestock and thriving crops. Among the seasonal and year-round produce grown here are: chard, roquette arugula, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, amaranth, carrots, beets, onions and radishes. Other seasonal crops include spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini and peppers.
Yes, there really is livestock. Living here are chickens, ducks and quail that produce eggs for specialty dishes. During my visit I rubbed noses with a wonderfully friendly pig that I hope is enjoying a long and languid retirement on the grounds.
There's a warm and welcoming energy here, and I give it bonus points for the on-site store offering a range of brews for immediate consumption or take out. We sampled fire-roasted pizza, which was delicious.
I also observed families bringing in their own meals and tablecloths, and people were playing horseshoes and enjoying beautiful weather and a tranquil atmosphere. There was a young man playing the mandolin and a lady doing face painting.
It's truly blissful—but check things out online to make sure it's open before making the drive.
Stone Farms · 9928 Protea Gardens Road · Escondido, CA 92026
To see more off-the-beaten-path places in San Diego, go to hiddensandiego.net.