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Zinc House Farm: Family Roots and Sustainable Agriculture

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If you are looking for a delightful way to spend a day in the country, take a drive on Highway 120 to Escalon and visit Zinc House Farm. I recently had the pleasure of meeting co-owner Carol Franzia, who, along with her three brothers, is creating a world-class agritourism destination.

We meandered together through the certified organic farm, watching the early beginnings of a new season of produce. The lush fields support a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers that are sold at the farm stand. We stopped to admire the 30 lively hens that keep the farm stand stocked with fresh eggs. We chatted with creative master-mind gardener, Brandon Pruett, who shared some of the ways he creates an organic, balanced eco-system on the farm.

Our next stop was the shop. The shelves inside the beautifully converted old building are chock full of local products including jams, honey, olive oils, soaps and artisan-produced crafts. Sunlight streams through the windows, illuminating the beams strewn with dried flowers. Inviting tables beckon the visitor to sit and perhaps enjoy a glass of wine.

Carol explained how the farm has evolved over the years from a humble family farm into a dynamic, innovative space that reflects their values of sustainability and respect for the environment. For the “fearless foursome” of siblings, the farm fosters a deep connection to the earth and agriculture. The four have a shared dream of contributing and giving back to the local community where their family has lived for over a century.

The Ferrea siblings offer authentic experiences to all visitors, sharing their knowledge of San Joaquin Valley agriculture and their enthusiasm for living a healthy, natural lifestyle. The name Zinc House Farm comes from a small, prefabricated house that arrived from New York in 1850 and served as a hotel, a school and a stopping place for miners on the road between the Port of Stockton and the gold-rich foothills. Carol and her brothers love to share the history of this special place and entertaining stories about all that has happened on this property throughout the years. It doesn’t take long to feel connected, and to know that your first visit will not be your last. Visitors can experience guided tours, hands-on workshops and special Zinc House Kids programs in which children can explore the wonders of nature.

In addition to the farm, Zinc House is home to Clark Ferrea Winery, named after Carol’s two grandmothers. Carol is a fourth-generation winemaker and produces fine wines that are an expression of the land that she loves. Visitors to Clark Ferrea Winery will experience a variety of wines that reflect the unique characteristics of the area. Wine tasting is available Friday through Sunday from noon to 5:00 p.m. Currently under construction and set to open in 2024 are a gorgeous, state-of-the-art wine lab, tasting room and outdoor pavilion that will be available to host events. Come for some produce and leave as a friend.

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Laurie Eager is the author and illustrator of In Papa’s Garden. A seeker of beauty every day, she loves adventure travel, all things French and dark chocolate. She lives in Stockton with her husband, Steve, and can be found most mornings enjoying a cup of coffee and the first rays of sunshine in their abundant vegetable garden.